Becoming a single mum is one of the most overwhelming life changes anyone will go through. Not only is the relationship over, but the whole family unit has changed. Becoming a single mum is one of the most heartbreaking, stressful and daunting experiences someone will ever go through. Whether you are pregnant or have teenagers, here are some tips to get you feeling better.
1. Be kind to yourself.
As women, we are our own worst enemy. We are very hard on ourselves, and often our self-talk is quite negative. But you have to be kind to yourself: stop negative chatter in your head and have some compassion for yourself. Stop analysing what you could have, would have, or should have done. This is not useful in the early stages of your new life as a single mum. It won’t get you anywhere. Would you criticize your best friend over and over again? Probably not. So be kind to yourself too. Nurture yourself with kindness and positive self-talk.
2. Look after yourself.
As a single mum, it is easy to put yourself last. But right now you really have to look after yourself. You’re not good to anyone if you’re running on empty. Simple things you can do to help yourself emotionally and physically are: eating healthy nutritious food, ensuring you get enough sleep, listening to music, exercising, and getting some fresh air each day.
Fitting some me-time into your schedule is equally as important. Sometimes you need to take some time out, recharge and do what you need to do to fill up your own tank. Some of the benefits of me-time include rebooting your brain hence assisting your mental well-being, helping you unwind (and de-stress), re-discovering yourself, giving yourself the time to think deeply and uninterrupted, and allowing yourself to sit with your feelings without distraction and not avoiding them. This is so essential to your healing process and will help you move forward and enjoy being on your own. It will also enhance your relationships. For you, the relationships that will benefit the most, are those with your children. So if you think me time is selfish – think again. Your children will be so much happier and better off, if you are happy too.
3. Try your best to have a positive co-parenting relationship.
Navigating the co-parenting relationship can be difficult. It goes without saying that arguing in front of children is not ideal. Similarly, you should never speak badly about the other parent to your children. This can be very damaging and confusing for them. Working on having a positive co-parenting relationship with your ex is in everyone’s best interest. Often people start out with the best intentions to get along, but soon after things can get tumultuous. Particularly if you can’t agree on parenting or financial arrangements. Something to help you if things get difficult are to think of your new co-parenting relationship as a business relationship. Try to avoid personal conversations, stick to the point at hand, and I always remain civil.
If your ex is saying nasty things to you, know that his words aren’t about you at all. They’re about him trying to get under your skin and hurt you, and his grief about the relationship ending. If you can understand the motivation behind his words then they won’t affect you as much.
Another tip is to not engage in the arguments. Stay calm and focus only on the issue at hand. Try to not immediately react to something; instead, leave your emotions out of it and just look at the facts. Bringing past arguments to the surface is not helpful, and it’s a good idea to pull the conversation back on track if it veers off onto another tangent. Whilst you cannot control the behaviour and actions of others, how you respond and react is up to you.
4. Meet other single mums
One of the best things you can do when becoming a new single mum is make friends with other single mums. It’s even better if they’re in your area. There are so many benefits to making other single mum friends. A good starting point is looking online. There are a lot of Facebook groups for local areas, for example. Otherwise you could start your own group! Some of the benefits include having babysitting swaps, getting and giving advice, having a rant to other people in the same boat, going on holidays together and house sharing. The best benefit however is that it’s good for your children too. There is no “normal” family unit these days. Anything is “normal” which is great, however it is still more common for children to have a mum and dad who are together; particularly when children are young. And when kids are around families that have a family unit like theirs, it normalises the situation for them too.
5. Start new traditions
Unfortunately life has taken you on an alternative path than predicted. But eventually you will move on, and accept that life is different now. A good way to put this into practice is to start a new tradition. Maybe that means going camping every Mother’s Day, or going out for brunch with the kids every Saturday. Or maybe you can go for a bike ride and have a picnic on Sundays? Start a new tradition for your family unit that is unique and different, but better than your past life.
Julia Hasche is a blogger, podcast host, author and mentor for single parents. She is the founder of Single Mother Survival Guide which aims to assist and inform single mothers in all things they may need to know about, support single mothers on their journey, inspire them, and motivate them to create the happy single mother life that they want. You can connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.