Empowering advice from resourceful single moms who fly solo, but know it takes a village.
The to-do lists for all moms are long: planning the meals, keeping track of everyone's doctors' appointments, throwing in the laundry, reading the best bedtime stories, among a million other things that we don't need to remind you about.
But for single moms, this list may feel like it's double the length since there isn't another parent to pass the baton to. And if there is, they're likely not on-duty when you are. Single moms really have to do it all, so we asked some of them to share their secrets for living a full life—one that still includes a little "me time" (truth: it's very necessary).
Their answers, from the pragmatic to poignant, are relevant for every parent—coupled up or not.
Early mornings = me time
"I get up at 5:40 a.m. every single morning. We have two cats; I feed them and I clean out their litter boxes. Then I shower and have a little thing of yogurt to get me 'til work. I do my makeup and my hair, and by the time my son wakes up, it's 7 a.m. Then from 7-8 a.m. I am fully focused on him, getting him ready and having a morning together. At 8 I'll do the last finishing touches. By 8:15 a.m. we're out the door." – Cindy C.
Outsource tasks and hire good help
"I work 24/7. I commute four hours a day—two hours each way, except on Fridays, when I work from home. So as a busy mom, it's all about maximizing time with my kid. Amazon has changed my life. I get everything delivered: pet food, toiletries. I have the means to be able to do it, so I have a housekeeper. She comes every other week. I am not going to spend my time cleaning. And meal delivery, that's completely one of my secrets. It keeps what we're eating diverse, it's something fresh and it shows up at my house. I used to nanny-share with my sister, however, these days I have an au pair." – Trent Z.
Lean into your unpaid network, too
"It's always "taken a village," and we still rely on the village, but the village members have changed. Now it's the moms of my son's friends at school, our neighbors. We live in New York City and we live on top of each other like all families do. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help." – Nancy K.
All that matters is that your kid feels loved
"When I was married, I tried living up to this idea of the perfect home, the perfect marriage, the perfect kids. Even though I am surprisingly more content [single] than I thought I would be, having things not go according to the plan has given me the freedom to tell myself that things are not perfect. I very much subscribe to the "good enough" philosophy: If you are a good enough mom, that is perfectly fine. My son 100 percent knows that he is loved. I just think letting things not go as planned has also allowed me to go easy on myself—in a lot of different ways." – Nancy K.
Active Facebook groups are a great source of parenting advice
"One night, I was reading a little book to my son before bed and it was the father's birthday in the book. My son looked at me and was like, "I want a Daddy. Where is he?" I always knew I'd have to address this, I just didn't know I'd have to do it at two and a half. After he went to sleep I reached out on a Facebook group I'm a member of, with a post like, "How do I handle this? What do I say? Using advice from other parents in the group, I talked to my son about how there are all different types of families: some just have a grandma, some have two daddies, two mommies, no mommy, three daddies. And our family is me and you." – Michelle A.