The Single Mom Survival Guide

5 minutes

Single-parent Indian families, though not the norm, are increasingly becoming more common.

Irrespective of whether it’s a woman who adopted a child, a wife who lost her husband after the birth of their child or sought separation from her husband, or an unmarried mother, single mothers are undoubtedly, more than capable of providing a healthy, nurturing, loving and supportive environment for her child to grow in.

In a patriarchal society like India’s, a single mother not only has to worry about raising her child ‘right’, but also has to fend off awkward questions, verbal insinuations and attacks from the society, intrusive questions about the absence of the husband and hushed whispers of people doubting her ability to provide a nurturing home without a husband to depend on. Society often treats her like she’s is incapable of surviving on her on, let alone looking after a child.

The outward display of confidence is repeatedly and secretly interjected by self doubt. “He hasn’t lost as many baby teeth as others his age, am I feeding him right? Or, his vocabulary isn’t as good as others, am I giving him enough exposure?” These could be some of the endless panic inducing questions bothering single mothers. The anxiety could sometimes be exacerbated by thoughts like, “I’m sure all my other friends who’re mothers, worry about it too, but they have their spouses to reassure and support them” The struggle is real, and sometimes frightening.

Here are some tips to help you cope better and feel less overwhelmed as a single mother :

1. Build a Support System

It is important to build  a community of supportive well-wishers as well as people you can depend on, whether it is someone you want to grab a quick cup of coffee with or someone to lean on for advice.  Support can come from various avenues – friends, family, a neighbourhood support community, or even online support groups for single parents.

Support System

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2. Stay Healthy

It is necessary to stay healthy to be able to cater physically as well as emotionally  to the needs of your child.   As the saying goes, “you cannot pour from an empty cup”, likewise, you will not have the stamina or the mental space to deal with the tantrum your child throws or even fully appreciate the good things you’ll do together, if you yourself are not feeling well.

3. Establish Ground Rules

As a single parent, you have no one to fall back on when your kids don’t play nicely.  It helps to establish your expectations from their behaviour, core rules to follow at home and consequences of not sticking to these rules.

4. It’s OK to Ask for, or Accept Help

No one can be a supermom. Being aware of your shortcomings, and being open to accepting help when offered, will save you a lot of anguish, anxiety and make your life smoother.  Asking for help does not make you look weak. Rather, it provides you and your child with that extra bit of support, that may otherwise be lacking.

5. Share Childcare Duties with Others

This is an extension of asking for and accepting help. As frightening as it may seem to entrust your child to another person, it may be necessary to maintain your sanity at times. Hiring a nanny, or enrolling your child in a creche or play school, while you take some time-out for yourself or to complete some pressing tasks, is completely acceptable and advisable.

6. Be honest with your children: As much as every parent wants to be their child’s role model, at the end of the day, they cannot be their child’s best friend or peer or people they will look at as equals. You are a parent and will always be a parent. Being honest about your capabilities, expectations and thresholds will set the tone for what the child is expected to do.

7. Reward Yourself

Giving yourself due credit is rarely even entertained let alone practiced.

When single mothers do not feel a 100% mentally healthy, it feels hard to get anything done successfully at any level. Allow yourself to unwind, do things that you like doing so take a break to recharge yourself.  

self care

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All in all, make sure to stay healthy, physically and mentally to be able to cope with the daily stressors.

No doubt all mothers, single or not, love their children unconditionally. The bigger question is how much attention do they give to their own wellness. It’s time they did. Talk to a YourDOST Expert for personalized guidance.

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Gayathri Rao

Gayathri is a psychologist by profession with over 5 years of experience. She is liberal by nature and a vegetarian by choice. She loves nature and believes in the healing powers of the mountains and the oceans, love and kindness.