The single parents’ road is a tricky one to navigate. In some ways, it’s smoother than being with a toxic person but it’s also a lot rougher, especially emotionally. It takes time to find your footing and there are a lot of bumps along the way, not to mention things to sort out like parenting plans, finances and simply coming to terms with the title of ‘single parent’.
As a single parent myself, I don’t always share what’s really going on with those around me. But here are a few things single parents feel, even though we might not ever find the words to say it.
How single parents really feel
1. It can be lonely
It’s lonely parenting alone. I mean, it can be great to spend time with your children but without the companionship of a partner, it can also really cement the fact that you’re on your own. Getting used to not having someone who is an adult to talk to and celebrate those amazing parenting milestones with can take time.
We don’t have that financial and emotional support like married mums do, but we also don’t have that carefree party vibe like our single (child-free) friends have. We’re in this grey area which can be great sometimes. But it can also be isolating.
2. The stigma hurts
‘Single mum’. ‘Single dad’. ‘Single parent’. None of these are super flattering and we are aware of the bias that does come with these terms. But remember, most people don’t plan on becoming single when they fall pregnant (some do and that’s totally cool).
But most think they are starting a family as a team. And once this family breaks up and you’re single, it can be seen as a failure. We know this is the stigma attached. And it does hurt.
3. We aren’t rich
Raising kids is expensive. Doing it alone makes it even trickier and many single parents actually don’t receive the financial support they are entitled to.
Weekends into town with friends are probably not on the budget anymore, especially when you also have to factor in the costs of a babysitter.
4. Co-parenting is really really really hard
I know so many ex-couples that have it all worked out, that have a system in place, that can work as a team even though separate. But even in these situations, it’s still hard.
Going a week or weekend without your kids can be painful (especially if they are young or when you first separate).
Spending every 2nd Christmas without your kids can be heartbreaking.
Behind every ‘co-parenting’ schedule there is sadness. Even if it’s for the best in the long run, it can still be really really hard.
5. There will always be drama
Here’s another thing about co-parenting – even in the best situations, there will always be conflicts with the ex. We try as hard as we can to be reasonable adults but everyone gets emotional where their kids are concerned.
Every mother and father will disagree on certain things, even parents that are together. It’s just the conflicts and arguments may seem more escalated when the parents are no longer together.
6. We have to be a parent 100%
When the kids are with us, we need to be their 100% parent.
There is no 50/50. And when they are with their other parent, we go to 0%. This intense change can be really hard to deal with, especially at first.
It can also mean we may overcompensate during the 100% days. Our kids are our everything, even on the 0% days but it’s on the 100% days that we really get to show it. Thus, it’s easy to go overboard.
7. We don’t have a strong sense of “self”.
‘Me’ time is often broken into fragments when we don’t have the kids, which, can be very rare for many single mums. This can make it tricky to do things outside of ‘mumming’ unless you have a strong support system of friends and family that can help with the kids.
8. We constantly worry about being good enough.
While technically, we’re not two parents, sometimes it feels like we need to play the role of both parents when our kids are with us. We know how important both mum and dad are to kids, and sometimes it’s hard to remove the guilt of not giving them this every day.
It’s easy to say we’re not doing a good enough job when there’s so much pressure to be everything.
There are so many amazing things about being a single mum and for many single parents, a breakup in a marriage or relationship means a new chance at life and a better future for the kids and for yourself.
But it can be really hard. So, to all the recently single mums, know that you’re not alone. What you’re feeling is part of the process. It does get better and, never doubt yourself.
You are good enough.
What to read next
- How to Overcome the Challenges of Co-Parenting with an Uncooperative Ex
- I’m a Single, Almost Empty Nester. This is What I’m Looking Forward to the Most
- Why Being a Single Mum and Co-Parenting is so Bloody Hard