Hello, awesome readers!
I recently had the opportunity – and honor – to speak at the Fearless Women’s Summit in Miami. As an ambassador for single mothers, my talk was on remembering who you are and the importance of living a life with purpose with what I call the 3 Cs. I brought the audience through a time machine as I shared some of my own story, from when I was a young, single mother.
To summarize, once upon a long time ago I was 24 years old and suddenly found myself in the thrust of single motherhood. Just to be clear, it was my decision. A decision that I had to make as I realized the true reality of my crappy life with my girls (a toddler and baby at the time) and their father, someone I like to refer to as Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking. I knew this resonated with my audience when they chuckled at the reference to a man I had outgrown.
And even though it was my decision to leave him, I was scared. I was doubtful. And I was dissatisfied with my life. As you can imagine, single motherhood was not what I had imagined for myself.
At the time, I was working in an office as someone’s secretary and I wanted more. I wanted a career that gave me a sense of purpose. I wanted to be a writer. But in order to achieve that … in order to change my life, I also realized that I needed to change some things about myself. Getting rid of Mr. What-Was-I-Thinking was only the first step. I knew that this wouldn’t be enough. Somehow, I came to the conclusion that I needed three things to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be.
The 3 Cs.
I was scared. I needed COURAGE. I was doubtful. I needed CONFIDENCE. I was dissatisfied. I needed COMMITMENT. I needed to make a commitment to myself.
And so, it was with these three tools – courage, confidence, and commitment – that over time, I learned to put a sense of purpose into my life.
But here’s the thing … (What? You weren’t expecting a thing?)
Making the decision to live a life of purpose and have a career is one thing. Making the decision to live a life of purpose and have a career as a single mother is something else altogether.
If you’re a single mother, you’ll understand what I mean when I confess that there’s no end of the day at the end of the day when everything falls on you. You work. You pick up your kids from daycare or school (or both). You get home with hungry, often cranky versions of your children. You too may be tired, hungry, and cranky, but there’s still another shift to get through. Meal prep … bath time … homework … You know the routine.
And then there’s all this talk about work-life balance and you wonder if perhaps you’re just not on top of your shit. You wonder if maybe you’re lazy … not enough … not giving it your all … Again, you’re probably familiar with the swirl of thoughts that buzz in your brain.
And since I don’t have all the answers, I reached out to a few other single mothers that I have the pleasure of admiring for their achievements and contribution to the world.
Following is a glimpse into their lives with some powerful insights into the infamous work-life balance from a single mom’s perspective.
If you have thoughts on this, we’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.
Rebecca Eckler is the Executive Editor of https://www.savvymom.ca and the author of Blissfully Blended Bullshit.
I have a love/hate relationship when people ask me about work-life balance and single motherhood. I think it is great that people are having this conversation, to support and validate single, working mamas, most of whom, let’s be real, have to work. On the other hand, especially when you’re a single mom, there is, has always been, and always will be, only one answer, ever! Which is, “there’s no such thing called balance!”
Candidly? I have a nanny. But before you jump to conclusions, I’m not necessarily coming from a place of privilege. I say this even though I truly don’t know how I could be a working mother, especially a single, working mother, without a nanny. How many employers would allow employees to leave the office at 2:30 in the afternoon to pick up their kids after school? I have great empathy for single, working mothers. But because I love my job, and because I honestly don’t have what it takes to be a stay-at-home mom, I work hard to be, basically, working to pay my nanny’s salary.
And, you’ll hear over and over and over and over, “You feel guilty not seeing your children because you are working. And, you feel guilty for not working, when you’re with your children.” I hope single mothers reading this will trust me on the following:
Once you accept that you’re always going to feel guilty, that your emotions are completely normal, the guilt kind of goes away. I especially like to compare feeling this kind of guilt with being insulted by a troll on the internet. If you don’t take the guilt “personally,” then it doesn’t sting as much. And quite frankly, even though I may be tired and cranky at the end of a long workday, I actually think being a single, working mother has made me a better parent; more apt to soak in the times, and really be present when I do have my children.
The fact that people are still asking this question in 2020 and having this conversation proves that single, working mothers, especially single mothers who want to be stay-at-home moms but can’t for financial reasons, shows that single mothers still need more support; to be acknowledged on how difficult it is, and that society needs to be adjusted because there are so many of us now.
But if you’re looking for some “secret” to figure out work-life balance as a single mother, I’m sorry, but there just isn’t one. Not yet, anyway.
Jacqueline Patterson, Deputy Director, National Non-Profit, Single Mom Advocate
I stayed home with my first child for almost two years. After returning to work, I quickly realized how hard it is for single women with children. All the sick days, school snow days, parent-teacher conferences, and special events we must attend. And PTA for some of us working, single moms is just out of the question. How do we manage it all? I knew I’d be president of the PTA, but I could never get out of the office to make a meeting on time. I found myself walking into the daycare unable to check in with teachers, only nodding at them, because I was on conference calls.
I sacrificed a lot with my first child. When I returned back to work with my second son after only 6 weeks, I made it clear that I was a single, breastfeeding mom, who had hard stops. Daycare can cost upward of $25 a day in late fees and I was not going to be the last mom picking my child up any longer. I became vocal and unapologetic about my special needs as a single mom and executive. I stopped working and taking calls from 6-9 p.m. because that time became dedicated quality time: dinner, bath, bonding. I was fortunate that I worked amongst women in leadership positions who understood my needs, unlike the corporate males who couldn’t care less and only wanted results, i.e. profits.
I created my work-life balance, but I realize many women don’t have this flexibility and it can be overwhelming. This is when your village is necessary – people you can call on to help out because in life, our ultimate goal is interdependence because we CAN NOT do it all on our own. My children’s dad never helped out on sick days, closed school days, etc. so I always have to figure it out on my own, even now. It can be really tough when you get those midday calls and your 6-year-old kid is in the nurse’s office, wheezing, and you’re in a meeting. Or lately with my oldest (10) in the principal’s office in trouble. I take a deep breath, exhale, and call people for help these days; something I wasn’t comfortable doing before kids.
Cheryl Besner – LifeStyle Strategist
EMPOWERING you to live by your own design.
Certified Relationship Expert / Author / Pro-Speaker / reTreat Facilitator
At the forefront of many conversations these days, you will hear more and more high achievers talking about a desire to create a “Work-Life-Balance” in their lives. For some, it means choosing to step away from their present job, accepting a lower salary for more free time, while others change their profession altogether to slow down their fast-paced lifestyle in the corporate or business world. Then some feel that it’s not about putting in less time that will tip the scale but rather channeling their energy into something more meaningful to their everyday life. Finding purpose, which ultimately helps the balance as work becomes part of who they are and not something they do.
For single parents, there is an added challenge as there is no relief at the end of work. Sometimes alone to allow for life, and by that, I mean your life… not as a mother/father but as an individual. How do you find Work-Life-Balance, when there is only work and then home to kids? Yes, as parents we may feel that our kids are what we live for but as a person, we need LIFE outside of responsibility to our WORK and family. You may be asking yourself now, “How is that an option?”.
Well, in a storybook world we would have a fairy godmother that would magically appear and grant us three wishes. However, this is real life for many of us, so instead, I will offer three strategies to help you find some personal balance.
- GET UP 30 MINUTES EARLY each day and spend alone time before you wake the kids up. You are sacrificing sleep time, but the awake time alone to yourself will energize you more than those 1,800 seconds.
- CREATE A CO-OP BABYSITTING ROUTINE with another single parent or group of parents. Once a week, the kids go to one home for a group homework session and dinner while the other parent takes their time out to go shopping, go to the gym or go on a date! The following week you rotate. This is a great way for kids to help each other, bond, and even empower older children if there is an age gap. This also saves babysitting money which can be used to buy yourself a much anticipated and well-deserved cocktail!
- ASK FOR HELP! This is the hardest one for many, as we often feel as single parents that we have to do it on our own as if to prove that we are capable. Why is it that at work we often have assistants, staff or teams all working together to get the job done, yet we don’t apply the same strategy at home? Make your kids part of the process of achieving the harmony that allows everyone in the house some free time to enjoy the home. This is a growing opportunity for them to develop team-building skills as well. This strategy also includes asking for assistance from other family members outside of your nuclear family, like your parents or siblings.
Work-Life-Balance starts with you choosing to drop some weight, how much, it is all up to you!
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