There’s no form of mom guilt quite like single mom guilt!
It’s like taking regular mom guilt and amplifying it because, as a single mother, you are especially low on time, energy and limbs to do everything you want to for your child.
Plus, you feel bad for being single in the first place and not providing your children with a two-parent home – even if your ex is a horrible garbage person.
Oh, and top that off with not having enough money to give your little ones the luxuries you wish you could.
Yes, single mom guilt can be a huge burden on your mom life, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
I lived that life but I finally got fed up with feeling guilty all of the time.
How am I supposed to enjoy my time as a mother if I feel like shit about it 24-7?
Letting go of guilt, especially single mom guilt, is a hard thing to do but I want to share with you how I overcame it and finally got to happily live my life as a single mother.
1. Give Yourself a Break
You have your reasons for being a single mom – maybe it was by choice, maybe it wasn’t.
Either way, you need to give yourself a break. You’re in this situation and as long as your kiddos are happy and healthy, you are doing great.
Sure, they might not have fancy toys or get to go on thrilling adventures, but they have stability in you because you love them and are dedicated to taking care of them.
And if you feel that you’re not spending enough time with them, remember, you are pulling the weight of two parents! It’s impossible to take care of yourself and your responsibilities and give your children your undivided attention every moment of every day.
So, when worse comes to worst, pat yourself on the back for keeping your children alive during the day.
And give yourself a break.
2. Spread Your Wings
Just because you are a single mother doesn’t mean you have to buy into the stereotype that you will always be poor and struggle to provide for your children.
You have the strength and power to change that situation. Spread your wings and fly!
There are so many resources out there that can help you find a job or even go back to school. Hell, there are many free online courses that can help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to pursue your calling.
Not everything requires a fancy degree!
You can start a business, like selling handmade crafts or watching children in your home, or get into online work like freelance writing or transcribing.
The possibilities are endless, and you don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances.
Apart from making more money and providing your kids with more, getting out there will give you a sense of accomplishment, productivity, and pride!
3. Play With Your Kid
I’m not one for getting on the floor and playing. There, I said it.
But I feel horrible for not wanting to play with my daughter. She’s an only child so I’m her sole choice when it comes to having a playmate at home.
I realized there were two main reasons why this was a struggle for me.
First, I don’t like playing. I spent over seven years working with preschoolers, so my player is all played out.
Second, I hate playing for long periods of time because I’m always thinking of what else needs to be done or what else I could be doing.
To combat these struggles, I came up with two tricks:
- Find common ground. There are many activities my daughter and I both enjoy, such as coloring or playing Minecraft together, so I try to encourage these from time to time.
- Schedule in playtime. Yes, I schedule my one-on-one playtime with my daughter. This way, I know when we’re going to play, so I can get my crap down (and get it out of my mind) plus there’s a time limit so I know I won’t be stuck playing with LOL dolls for three hours.
Since I started doing these things, my daughter requires less of my one-on-one time and I don’t feel bad at the end of the day for not spending time with her doing what she wants to do.
4. Have Quality Time, Not Quantity Time
Kind of in the same vein as playing with your kid, make sure that the time you do spend with them is quality time.
This is especially important if you are a busy single mom and don’t have a lot of time to spend with your kiddos – so make it count!
That means putting down the phone and actually focusing on them and what you’re doing – even if it’s something you’re not particularly interested in.
I just realized recently that sitting and watching my daughter play Minecraft is enough to fill her “love bucket.” I’m not expending a lot of energy or playing with toys I don’t enjoy playing with – I’m simply sitting there and watching and, to her, this is quality time.
I know once she gets older and grows out of toys, this will be especially important. She’ll want me to observe her hobbies or have conversations with her.
By ensuring that my time with her is based on quality and not quantity (because, remember, I schedule our playtime), I don’t feel bad for the moments I take for myself.
Which leads me to…
5. Take Time For Yourself
Okay, easier said than done when you’re a busy single mom, but having moments just for you is important even if they make you feel guilty.
However, when you make more effort to connect with your children throughout the day, the less guilty you will feel when you do have time for yourself.
Since I started really focusing on spending more time with my daughter (which is peppered with some time to myself while she does some solo activities), she goes to bed without begging for me to stay with her.
That really says something, doesn’t it? As if she has had enough of my attention for the day.
So do I feel bad when I plunk myself on the couch to watch Netflix? Or send her to her grandmother’s for the weekend?
Not at all.
As long as you balance time with your kids with time to yourself, there’s no reason you should feel guilty about doing what you enjoy doing by yourself.
6. Ask For Help and Accept Help
Ahhhhh! The dreaded “ask for help” advice!
I used to be too stubborn to ask for help, thinking that I should be able to do it all by myself.
But the reality is that I can’t. And neither can you.
Remember that asking for help doesn’t always mean getting something from someone else, such as their time. Reaching out for help can mean seeking advice or merely emotional support.
And for those that offer you help? For god’s sake, take it!
As far as reaching out for resources, such as financial aid or even accessing a food bank, they are there for a reason. You should never feel bad about using them if you need to.
7. Don’t Worry About Not Having a Partner
I used to feel bad that my daughter didn’t have a male figure to look up to in her everyday life.
While there was no way in hell I would ever get back with her father, I still wanted her to have a positive male influence.
However, if I had let this bit of single mom guilt get to me, I may have made the mistake of accepting any man into my life that simply wanted to be there – which could end up not providing a positive male influence at all.
Instead, I reminded myself of three things:
- Her father not being directly involved in her everyday life is a good thing.
- The right man that will be a positive influence is worth waiting for.
- Positive male influences do not have to be my “boyfriends”. She has an amazing uncle, grandfather and my male friends that are good for her.
I guess in the end I’d rather her see me alone, happy, and independent than in a relationship and miserable.
8. Stop Comparing Yourself
This piece of advice may just be a cure-all for all mom guilt, not just single mom guilt.
Social media makes it so easy to showcase moms’ lives as “perfect” – and just as easy for us to look at these moms and feel like shit because we’re not doing as well as they are.
You know what? They aren’t doing as great as their pictures imply.
In fact, most pictures that you see on your FaceBook feed hide the reality of parenting.
You can’t validate your success as a single mom based on what you see on social media. You have to create your own checklist of what makes a great mom and work from that.
Because when you try to live off someone else’s list, you’re going to feel like a failure.
So do yourself a favor and define yourself as a single mother and don’t turn to social media to see what that’s supposed to look like.
9. Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Kids, unfortunately, do not come with a handbook, so parenting is all about figuring shit out as you go along.
And, when you’re a single mom, this means figuring it out alone.
So, you’re going to make mistakes – that’s inevitable. The important thing is that you take those mistakes as learning opportunities and you put in the effort to make changes.
For me, I made the mistake of relying on YouTube to entertain my child so I could get work done or simply relax. Now, she’s a YouTube-aholic and could spend hours upon hours watching videos.
I knew this was a problem but I didn’t understand the severity of it until she was constantly having meltdowns in the evenings.
I realized that, as much as she loves videos, she was bored and not being stimulated in a healthy way. For some psychological reason, I’m sure I could research but I don’t feel like it, this was causing major tantrums.
So we started scheduling video time (along with playtime, yes) and she is allowed to have one hour of videos per day. She can choose when she watches them and whether or not she wants a full hour or to split her sessions into two half-hours.
Instead of getting down on myself for letting the videos get out of control, I took a chance and tried something that I thought would help – and it worked!
If you want to see your mistakes as devastating life-halting moments, then you’re going to continue to wallow in single mom guilt. Take them as opportunities to learn and grow as a mother.
10. Don’t Make Friends With Your Guilt
Just because feeling guilty as a single mom is part of the “experience” doesn’t mean you have to accept it as normal and live with it every day.
You don’t have to accept guilt into your life.
To work against my guilt and banish it from my life, I started “butting” it.
For example, if I said to myself, “I feel bad that I don’t have enough money to spoil my daughter,” I would follow it with, “but she has everything she needs and plenty of toys to play with.”
“I feel bad that I don’t make my daughter eat more healthy foods but she does make some good food choices and is healthy.”
“I feel bad that she goes to my mom’s every weekend but she is always invited and my mom wants her there.”
“I feel bad that I don’t have the energy to play with her in the snow but she gets to at school and sometimes we do.”
Instead of justifying your guilt, push back against it. Remind yourself that you are making good parenting choices and that you are a fantastic mom.
Kick Single Mom Guilt to the Curb!
Why let single mom guilt take over your life when you can kick it to the curb and truly enjoy being a mother?
If you’re a single mom, I’d like to hear how you handle single mom guilt! Let us know in the comments below!