What I learned by being a single mom…

Tonight, as I sit here with massive writers block, but the desire to write it dawned on me that I could write about the one thing that I do not need to research, or think too hard about. I can write about all that I learned by being a single mommy.

Being a single mom is the hardest job that you will ever love!

Be Organized!

I honestly feel like I have beat this point to death in many of my posts. Hence the links below… I am not going to continue to beat this into your head. Honestly, read the posts, you with thank me for saving you a ton of time trying to find your scissors next time you need them. Mama, you do not need any more stress in your life.

Learn how to stick up for yourself

Before I became a single mom, I honestly feel like I could not have stood up for myself if it was the last thing I had to do. Now, all the years later I realized that the reason I was able to stick up for myself, was because I had to stick up for us. For Olivia and me, I was the only one that could stand up for us.

Now, sticking up for yourself is not about having a venimous attitude, or being nasty to the lady at the utility company… it is about being able to negotiate, be firm, and require what is fair from those around you.

Negotiate in my mind means to come to a mutually beneficial agreement between two parties through open and candid discussion.

You will need to learn how to negotiate with your child’s other parent, your family, their family, your utilities, friends, and your creditors. I will have a post upcoming about how to negotiate finances and talk to your creditors.

People are finicky creatures, but if they feel they are getting something out of the transaction, they will be more agreeable. For example, if you negotiate with a friend to watch your child for a night, offer to clean their house, or watch their child, or do something you know they hate. Which leads to one of the next things that I learned…

Find other single mom’s for support

There are websites out there that are designed around this very concept, to gather single mom’s so they can connect. Or even sites that will help like minded people to connect around a particular hobby. When Olivia and I lived in Northern Virginia I joined a site called www.meetup.com. This site has everything from people who like looking at stars to people who like to run a lot, adventure to parks, and whaaala–single parents!

I would not join the group and start the first night asking for favors, but join, make friends, and find those that you have things in common with outside the group. Some of my favorite friends from NOVA I met through these groups, they were single mom’s, some of them were just groups that I attended one event, and moved on as well. It is a great way to meet people who are seemingly interested in the same things you are. Disclaimer: remember that you are meeting people online so you still have to be safe, but in theory you are meeting in a group of people so it should be safer, just be smart!

It is okay, to NOT be okay…

Say this to yourself when you are not okay mentally, physically and financially.   It is okay to have bad days, and to be the dragon lady it is okay to feel like the whole entire world is against you and you have no other choice but to ball up in your bed, order take-out, and watch the entire season of the next famous show on Netflix.   It is okay to call your mom and cry…lord knows that I did this plenty of times.  

It is okay from time to time to fall apart, or to ask for professional help. We should not take this overboard though it is not okay to be self destructive, to hurt yourself or the kids, or participate in bad situations. I am simply saying it is okay to have a bad day. For heavens sake you are doing this all on your own all of a sudden, and, that was probably not the plan. Or it was, and so either way… it is okay to have a bad day.

It’s okay to be a “bad” mom and find time for you

There is a unfortunate school of thought out there that mom’s do not have time for themselves, that is insane.   Go get a babysitter and go out with your lady friends, take the kids to the YMCA for their “parents night out” and go to a movie YOU want to see.  

This goes without saying, do not do this every night, but every once in a while you need time for you.     How about a date?   Get a babysitter, make yourself feel amazing, and go out with that guy that keeps asking you out.   Set a reasonable amount of time for the date, and be home in time to take the babysitter home.   

Someone once told me that a happy mommy makes for a happy Olivia and they were 100% right.   I made time for myself, granted Olivia spent summers with her dad so I was able to go out in the summer time and play adult softball, go to the movies with girlfriends or go for an after work drink with co-workers.   It made me feel like I was still young, and viable.    I was happy, now after she was gone for a week or two I wanted her back and I wanted to get back to our routine, but that is because I am a creature of habits.  

Dating is hard but not impossible

Dating is hard, not only from a single mom aspect, but just because it is a needle in the haystack to find good, compatable, non-narcassistic men. My dad told me when I was dating, “if you find a man at your age that is not married, there is probably something wrong with him.” He was right, until I met the one that I will spend the rest of my life with. But, it took 12 years to find him. I enjoyed being single, and not having anyone to answer too, but I also missed having someone other than my dad (when they came to visit) to check on my tire pressure, my oil, and put up the pictures in the hallway.

Dating is tough no matter the circumstances, but make time for it. Even if it is just to get attention and who knows maybe you will find a friend or your future in the process.    This is a good time to use the babysitter, because if you are not having a good time, you can say, “well, I have to get home and take the babysitter home.”  Just saying…

Your child’s love is all that matters

I know it is tough to be single, if you do not believe that I am not an expert, as I said above, it was 12 years before I found “the one.”   I dated yes, had a couple boyfriends, but not the guy that I was meant to be with for the rest of my days.    Your childrens love is all that really matters, the love that your children can give is nothing that you can replace. 

Understand basic house and car repairs

Unless you rent an apartment or house that is fully maintained by a landlord, you have to understand a few things about house and car repairs. I chose while we lived in Northern Virginia to rent, because I did not want to be responsible for house repairs. Also, it was far to expensive for me to buy a house on my own. Understanding basic house issues like plumbing, fixing a vacuum cleaner, and what to do when the breaker is flipped will go a long way. I have to say that I used youtube alot for figuring out what I could do to fix things until the maintenance people could get there. Olivia and I had a tendency to plug to garbage disposal (I still have this problem) so we would have to have some sense of what to do– get a plunger–it works wonders for many things.

Basic car repairs I would suggest that you understand would be how to fix a flat tire, how to change your own oil (or at least know that it needs to be changed), put in washer fluid, and know when the brakes need to be replaced. I had to change a dead front light on a vehicle once in a dark parking lot because Olivia and I were leaving early in the morning to take her to her dads house. I had no idea what I was doing, and no one at the auto parts store offered to help, so I opened the hood and figured it out! I know how to change a tire, and the oil because my dad taught me when I got my first car. Again, Youtube is a good place to learn how to do this stuff.

A plan is as good as it is, until it is not…

Well, this is one of the most profound things I have ever learned, and I have learned this the hard way over and over again. We can plan as much as we can, we can save money (my mom says that the universe knows when you have extra money) we can plan to get to work on time, but the universe sometimes has a different idea for us. Hence, the plan is good until it is not. Plan well, but realize that things will change, and will need to be changed in accordance with the current situation. Realize that it is okay to change plan because when one door closes another may be opening.

Being a single parent is the hardest job, but it is not impossible. Find your way, do the best you can and hug the little ones as much as possible. Check out the other blog posts from Savvy Mom for helpful tips.

Much Love, Amber & Olivia

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