By Alicia Harper, REDBOOK
There's no doubt about it: Being a single mom is tough stuff. Raising kids all by your lonesome self is not for wimps or softies. But it is possible, especially with these tried and true "Single Mom Secrets."
Mom and Toddler
Build up a savings account.
It may seem like you don't have extra money to save every month because, well, you're pretty much doing everything with one paycheck. I know the feeling, and it's not a good one. However, I've learned that I can't rely on child support because the times that it actually comes are few and far between, and the inconsistency is not helpful at all. So trust me on this one: Start building up your savings account. Start small if you have to, but start somewhere. I have a certain amount of my paycheck automatically deposited into my savings account twice a month. At first I really missed that money (like, really missed it), but now I'm so used to living without it that it's like I never had it to begin with. More important, whenever an emergency arises, I'll be prepared, and I won't have to rely on credit.
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Get rid of "mommy guilt."
Okay, so maybe you can't really get rid of "mommy guilt." Someway, somehow, it'll manage to find its way in. Comes with the territory, I suppose. Between working full time, freelancing, and attending media events in the evenings, at times my Mommy Guilt is at a 15 on a scale of 1-10. Although I only commit to one or two media events during weeknights, I still feel guilty when I'm not home in time to tuck Aiden in bed. It also makes me feel terrible whenever I have to miss a field trip with his class because I have a meeting at my full time job. There's always a trade-off, and there's always something that gets sacrificed. Oy! But I always remind myself why I'm working as hard as I am - it's so that Aiden and I can have the best lives possible. And that makes it all worth it.
Schedule "dates" with your child(ren).
Sure, I'm busy throughout the week, and it limits the amount of time I can spend with Aiden. But that's quite all right because when Saturday and Sunday rolls around, it's our time. On Saturdays, we head to swimming class or soccer practice in the morning, which is typically followed by lunch and some type of child-friendly activity - a show, a fair, a trip to the children's museum - you name it, we're there! And although I like to party with my girlfriends come Saturday night, my day dates with Aiden are usually a lot of fun. (Sans the tantrums. I can always do without the tantrums.)
Be humble enough to ask for help when you need it.
I'm a pretty independent person. In order to survive, I had to learn to take care of myself at a very young age. But everyday, life as a single mother teaches me how and when to ask for help. These days, I ask for many things - a schedule change at my full-time job, a scholarship that wasn't advertised at Aiden's school, babysitting bartering - the works! It doesn't come easy for me, but I know that it's necessary. Plus, I'm learning that there are people out there willing to help - and that's a great feeling.
What "Single Mom Secrets" do you live by?
Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a single mother, freelance writer, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University who's now a mental health therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue-her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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