Thriving as a single parent

We talked to Erica, a mom of a three year old and the owner of a growing business, about single parenthood. She gave us an intimate and honest account of what it is really like and how she makes it work.

How do you make single parenthood work for you and your child(ren)?

Deep breaths and lots of baths. Single parenthood is work.around.the.clock. Now that my son is in preschool until 3pm, it’s much easier because I have more “Me” time to work on my business and my own self care for 6hrs a day. I also have a set routine for him, and this helps us get through the afternoons and weekends. All in all, I think I make it work just by owning who I am (even my shadow), by offering presence and love even in the hardest moments, by being real with my emotions and by honoring my child’s emotions and needs. 

It’s so tough doing it alone but it’s also rewarding at the end of the day to get all the kisses and love from this child. Even after a tantrum, he’s just the sweetest being and I eat that up. There have been a lot of ups and downs the last few years as I learn how to be in the world and parent as a single parent. I make it work by accepting and loving us as we are ♥️.

What are some challenges that you face as a single parent that a family with two parents may not have?

I think the hardest thing for me is just feeling alone in it all. When my son had a head injury last month, I was in a trying moment. I needed to keep myself calm. And I needed to keep him calm. Looking back, I did a mediocre job at both. I felt really alone. I called an ambulance for help because I realized I wasn’t comfortable driving without someone being next to him in the back seat. It may seem like an over-reaction, but I just wanted him to be safe. Sometimes I feel I carry more worry and anxiety and am more overprotective of him because I have to handle it all on my own. Looking back, I am also just so grateful for healthcare and the access I have to a system that will care for us when I am in a trying moment. I wasn’t alone in this case; I had a team of responders within reach.

I do not have a partner to take over when things get tough, or to ask for help or to ask for even a small break. I do not have another adult to support me emotionally on a daily basis and to talk to when my child goes to bed.

Who else do you receive support from? 

My mother helps me pay for things that are completely out of my budget as I restart and redirect my business after my pregnancy and early parenthood journey. This means my son’s preschool bills. It is such a blessing to receive this gift from her. My son is thriving at school and this makes me feel so much more at ease while I am working with clients during the work week. If she weren’t able to help with this, I’d have found a very low cost day care option and I would have grown to love it as well! Having this gift from my mother lifts a huge part of the load for me. What I love about it is that I have learned not to feel guilty about it! She wants to, she can, and I show gratitude for it. And she’s such an emotional support as well. We moved closer to her so my son has a close relationship with her. He loves her!

What does your community look like? 

I call on many long distance friends for support. I’ve lived in various cities and have become close with many people throughout the years. It’s lovely but it also means that wherever I go, I have to start over again. Texting and phone chats with these close friends prove very supportive for me in difficult or lonely moments. I also just appreciate keeping in touch with them and knowing about my close friend’s lives. I like taking myself out of my own head and concerns and really being there for my people.

Here, locally, I have made a sweet group of friends (moms and friends who aren’t parents, too), and have met some incredible women that remind me of my strength and power. In person support and connection is SO important. Seeing people eye to eye with a hot tea in hand is so nourishing. As a mother, in general, it’s easy to lose site of the person you were and the dreams that were your life before having a child. I cherish those moments where I feel I am whole and creative, and when I can take myself out of my motherhood experience for a second!

What advice would you have for a single parent who is pregnant? 

  • Talk to your community about what you think your immediate needs will be (help with the baby at night or while you nap, errands, self care needs) and gather a list of who is willing to help
  • Ask other parents for advice but leave behind all the advice that doesn’t fit with who you are and how you intuitively feel about your pregnancy or new parent experience
  • When you’re feeling lonely, tell people, call on your people. They will hear you and support you and help you come out of it.
  • You’ll feel like you’re a new mama for a really long time. It’s okay. Keep calling out for support and connection. Don’t feel like you have to be further ahead. Stay on track and keep nourishing you.
  • Learn good financial habits. You are the primary and only breadwinner for your family. Knowing how to budget and save so you have funds for emergencies and wants is important.
  • Don’t ever give up—you are a superhero.