Tips that will inspire you to live your best life!
“They’re so hard on themselves!”
That is how psychologist and life coach Lisa Kaplin describes her single mom clients.
“They are constantly comparing themselves to other people, and they tend to look at what they’re doing wrong instead of all the things they are doing right.”
Kaplin is a 17-year veteran therapist who is the founder of her Chicago-based life coaching practice, Smart Women Inspired Lives. She said a large number of her clients are single moms, and that from talking to them, she has learned how complicated life can get.
“Between raising kids, dealing with an ex, working and trying to have a social life, and then feeling guilty that they’re not doing a good job, single moms have a lot going on,” Kaplin says. “What’s unbelievable to me is that most of them say, ‘I’m bad at all of this.’”
On a positive note, life can be pretty darn amazing for the single mom, according to Kaplin. It’s all in the mindset.
Here are Kaplin’s 10 tips for the single mom.
1. Be a fighter! Do you see yourself as a victim or a warrior? Sometimes single moms hang on to self-pity for longer than they should. If you see yourself in a “not fair” space, it’s unlikely that you will gain the confidence and energy needed for a fulfilling single mom life. If you see yourself as a fighter, fighting for what you feel you deserve, for what you want, for what you need to have the life you want, you will almost certainly persevere.
2. Never say no to offers of help! If neighbors, friends, or family members ask, it’s most likely not a big inconvenience for them to drive your child somewhere or have your child over to their house. In fact, many people actually have an innate need to help the single mom, so let them! But if you are going to feel guilty about it, it will become counterproductive. Guilt is a huge waste. One solution for feeling guilty is to reciprocate at another time, when it works for you. You can also pay it forward. As far as feeling guilty with regard to leaving your children with others, don’t. It is actually very healthy for kids to get rides with other families and to go to different homes. It fosters confidence and independence.
3. Choose how you view your situation. Whether you planned on being a single mom or not, you get to choose how you look at your situation. You can see it as a challenging adventure or a nightmare. Whichever one you choose will dictate how you experience it.
4. Realize that it’s good for kids to have alone time or time with a babysitter. A lot of single moms tell me they feel guilty going on a date if their kids are going to be home alone or with a babysitter. My response is, “What’s better for the kids: If you’re with them and you’re sad that you aren’t getting adult time, or you come home and you’ve had a nice night and you feel happy and not resentful and you’re a better mom?” Having alone time or time with a babysitter makes kids stronger, more independent, and more appreciative of their mom.
5. Accept your body. Like all women, single moms are so critical about their bodies. If you are unhappy with your body, you’re likely to attract someone who agrees with you. So, you have two choices: accept and celebrate your body the way it is, or make lifestyle changes to get your body to where you feel good about it. The key to loving your own body is to exhibit behaviors that will cause you to take pride in and appreciate it. That might mean healthy eating, working out, or doing yoga. It’s also very important to change your mindset. Instead of negative thoughts and self-talk, such as “I’m fat,” say “I have gratitude for my healthy body.”
6. Stop caring about what others think. A lot of clients will say, “I know my neighbors are talking about me and judging me” or “My mom is constantly saying, ‘How come you’re not with someone?’” The only person who needs to be comfortable with you is you—and only you. If someone disapproves of the way you are living your life, that’s his or her problem. Also, a lot of times, not just single moms but all women tend to draw conclusions about what someone thinks of them, and half the time they end up realizing they were wrong.
7. Don’t hang on to resentment. Happy single moms say, “I was in the wrong marriage, and this is better for me, my kids, and my ex.” I have also heard clients say, “I was upset that he ended it; however, why would I want to stay married to someone who doesn’t want to be married to me?” The single moms who are unhappy are still hanging on to resentment and bitterness.
8. Define what you need. When a client tells me, “I’m lonely,” I ask, “What does that mean? Does it mean you want to be out more on weekends? Does it mean you want someone with whom you can sit on the couch and eat popcorn?” First, you need to define what you need so you don’t have that feeling. Look at your weeklong schedule. If you have a lot of alone time, start setting up things to do—for example, make coffee dates with friends, look into online dating, join a group, or take exercise classes. Physically putting yourself around people eventually leads to social interaction and, many times, fun groups of friends, true friendships, and even romantic relationships.
9. Educate yourself about money. A lot of clients will talk about their fear of finances. The first thing I ask is, “Is this fear realistic?” Many times, single moms who are financially well off become insecure about finances. Why? Possible reasons include guilt, self-judgment if they have the luxury of not working, or unwarranted shame. If clients are worried about money and it is a realistic fear, we talk about what needs to happen. Do you need to cut expenses? Change jobs? Get a job? Get a second job? Do you need a job coach or a financial planner? When people begin worrying about money, they can become paralyzed with fear and then they don’t do anything, and the problem gets worse. They can also get into victim mode, which never helps anything. My advice for those who have a legitimate fear of their finances is to invest a little time and money to plan your future out. Educating yourself, as difficult as it is, is empowering and will help you figure out solutions to your problems.
10. Work on your self-confidence and believe in yourself. A lot of single moms are getting negative feedback either from family members or from their ex. They often tell me their ex will say, “You’re not a good mom.” My advice? Turn off that noise in your head, and work on your self-confidence and the belief that you can do this on your own!
Join our community of Solo Moms to connect with other moms who understand. We also have closed Facebook groups such as ESME Divorce, ESME Wellness, and ESME Parenting for additional support and connection.
Jackie Pilossoph, ESME’s Divorce Resource Guide, is the creator of Divorced Girl Smiling, a website that helps men and women facing divorce. She is also a weekly Huffington Post divorce blogger; the writer of a weekly column, “Love Essentially,” for the Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press; and a freelance corporate and business content writer. Pilossoph holds a master’s degree in journalism. She lives in Chicago with her two children. Oh, and she’s divorced.