Dancing in the Kitchen

Dancing in the Kitchen

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A Solo Mom’s guide to the ultimate playlist

“Music is the soundtrack of your life.” —Dick Clark

I love music. As a New Orleans native, I grew up surrounded by live music, learning to appreciate a variety of genres. My childhood can be retold through song, such as the day I learned Madonna’s “Material Girl” was about clothing and not my favorite cereal (Cheerios), or when my friend Toby and I played Snow’s “Informer” on repeat until we thought we’d learned the words. I chose a music town for my college experience and enjoyed attending numerous Jennifer Nettles concerts when her music was more gospel than country. I personally met many bands as they toured through town on their rise to fame and even celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday sitting next to Michael Stipe, whose nephew was best friends with the boy I babysat.

As an adult, my love of music has only grown. Now, instead of recording songs from the radio onto a cassette tape, I use Pandora to create custom radio stations and Spotify to make playlists. I’m thankful for the Internet allowing me to listen to any song whenever I want and for taking the guesswork out of learning song lyrics. (We were wrong about “Informer.”) I have a playlist for everything. Kitchen a mess? There’s one to help me clean. On a deadline? Nothing beats my favorite mellow tunes to get the creative juices flowing. Getting ready for a date? I sing and dance along as I’m getting dressed. Hosting a party for your Solo Mom friends? I’ve got a great one for that.

I believe that every Solo Mom needs a playlist of songs custom-made for her life. For those of you who didn’t play the New Kids On The Block’s first tape on repeat in the late 1980s, mourn the loss of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in the ’90s, or decide that U2’s “Beautiful Day” would be your personal anthem for all of the 2000s, I’m here to help. Inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books of my youth, I’d like to help you create your ultimate playlist. I’ve taken 50 songs (plus a few bonus tracks—remember those?) and categorized them into various Solo Mom experiences. You can either make each section its own mini playlist or combine them together to best express your particular story.

Feeling blue

Having a bad day, week, month, or year and need a little pick-me-up? Are you looking for some songs that will inspire you to fight another day? These women know how to do just that:

  1. “I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor
  2. “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten
  3. “Love Myself,” Hailee Steinfeld
  4. “Respect,” Aretha Franklin
  5. “Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé
  6. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” Pat Benatar
  7. “Roar,” Katy Perry
  8. “Stronger,” Kelly Clarkson
  9. “Raise Your Glass,” Pink
  10. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper

Bad breakup

Whether you’ve just left your marriage or ended a postmarriage relationship, breakups always require music. Even if you didn’t hate your partner by the end, you are probably still angry. Cry, rage, and celebrate a little, too:

  1. “Not Ready to Make Nice,” The Dixie Chicks
  2. “Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift
  3. “Breaking Up,” Rilo Kiley
  4. “Ex’s and Oh’s,” Elle King
  5. “Goodbye to You,” Linda Ronstadt


Found out about the affair and dreaming of getting revenge? While I cannot condone those actions, I can encourage you to participate in the fantasy and take out your frustration with a few lyricists who know just how you feel:

  1. “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood
  2. “You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon
  3. “You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette
  4. “Don’t,” Ed Sheeran
  5. “The Best,” Tiffany Houghton
  6. “Bust Your Windows,” Jazmine Sullivan

My ex is crazy

Won’t stop calling? Harassing you via e-mail and text? Begging for another chance? Or, even worse, your friends and family are worried? Use some music to remind yourself it could be worse. If it couldn’t, consider calling the cops:

  1. “The Old Apartment,” Barenaked Ladies
  2. “Redneck Crazy,” Tyler Farr
  3. “Trigger Happy Jack,” Poe
  4. “Basket Case,” Green Day
  5. “I Love It,” Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX

You’re angry, really angry

Your ex is being a jerk. Again. It’s hard to put your children first when your “coparent” is irrational and simply refuses to cooperate. You just want to move on, but your ex can’t seem to let go. Sing it or scream it—let the rage out:

  1. “Break Stuff,” Limp Bizkit
  2. “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Twisted Sister
  3. “Fuck You,” CeeLo Green
  4. “I Hate Everything About You,” Three Days Grace
  5. “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” Nancy Sinatra

The house is all yours!

You did it! Your ex is out, finally! Time to celebrate. Sing and dance your heart out—you are F-R-E-E:

  1. “Done,” Frazey Ford
  2. “Shake It Out,” Florence + The Machine
  3. “Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson
  4. “It’s Too Late,” Carole King
  5. “Get Gone,” Fiona Apple

You miss him

You’re not ready to let go. We’ve all been there, including, apparently, Adam Levine. Some breakups are harder to get over than others, so don’t let anyone rush you. Take it at your own pace. Levine and some others are here to help:

  1. “Don’t Wanna Know,” Maroon 5
  2. “Your Mistake,” Sister Hazel
  3. “Try,” Pink
  4. “I Touch Myself,” Divinyls
  5. “Superhero,” Ani DiFranco


Verbal, mental, physical, or sexual—abuse doesn’t end when the relationship does. Even with a good therapist, it’s hard to fully heal when your abuser is also your child’s parent. A quick-trigger warning: if you’ve recently left your abuser, leave the first three off of your list. And definitely don’t take advice from the Dixie Chicks:

  1. “Goodbye Earl,” Dixie Chicks
  2. “Church Bells,” Carrie Underwood
  3. “Luka,” Suzanne Vega
  4. “Touch, Peel and Stand,” Days of the New
  5. “The Sound of Silence,” specifically, the version by Disturbed

Kids’ music

When I told my kids about this story, they asked to participate and create their own list. Here are the top five songs we sing and dance to almost every day. They hope your kids will like them just as much as they do:

  1. “Happy,” Pharrell Williams
  2. “HandClap,” Fitz and the Tantrums
  3. “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Justin Timberlake
  4. “Brave,” Sara Bareilles
  5. “Party In The U.S.A.,” Miley Cyrus

Bonus tracks

I could easily double this entire list—there’s so much great music! Here are a few additional songs that didn’t fit into any one category, but I really hope you will include:

  1. “Hallelujah,” any version, but lately I can’t get enough of Pentatonix’s beautiful harmonies
  2. “Beautiful Day,” U2
  3. “Gives You Hell,” The All-American Rejects
  4. “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye
  5. “Your Guts (I Hate ’Em),” Reel Big Fish

Do you have any songs that speak to you as a Solo Mom? Please share below—I’d love to expand my playlist.

ESME’s Gia Miller is a Solo Mom to a nine-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. She writes about health and wellness, parenting, divorce, food, and general lifestyle. Her work has been featured in online publications including the Washington Post, Healthline, Paste, Headspace, and more.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

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