With Melinda

Single mum lifestyle blogger

Romance author


Life as a mum is a very busy one; there is no time to stop and stare. Life as a single mum is even busier. But however busy our lives may be, we all need a moment to take time for ourselves. Here are listed the struggles of being a single mum and how to overcome them. It’s time to let someone help.

A single mother is a mother who parents on her own. Maybe she was once in a relationship, then separated after having a child. Or she decided to have a child by herself, as a solo parent. There are so many different paths and struggles of being a single mum. Unfortunately, single mothers still face stereotypes and discrimination from society that can make their journey a more difficult one.

Single mum statistics

Gingerbread, a UK charity that works with single parents states that there are 1.8 million single parent families in the UK today. These account for 25% of families in total. Of these, 90% are headed by women.

Struggles of being a single mum

Although there are struggles of being a single mum, you need to remember there are many joys to be had as well. Let’s first look at the potential obstacles that can trip you up on your solo journey then find the resolutions that are most definitely there. Your life will become much simpler, the cloud of anxiety and stress will start to clear and you can enjoy your journey as a mum.

1. How to survive financially as a single mother?

The definition of a nuclear family is a mother and father living together with their children. One of the benefits of this is the possibility of two incomes supporting the family unit. With a single-parent family, one wage is split between all the family members. The difficulty here is that one wage is essentially only meant to support one person. Not to pay for the clothes, food, and rent of somebody else. Looking at your weekly or monthly pay and figuring out how to split it between you and your children can be tough.

Single mums also often find themselves in lower-paid jobs. These include flexible work, e.g. term time only or part-time which pay less than the equivalent full-time job. Mothers often fill these roles, whether from necessity or choice. In 2021. 9.61 million women were working full-time whilst 5.88 million were working part-time.

2. Self-Doubt in single mums

Becoming a mother is tough. Every situation is new and different to anything you have ever done before. When there are two adults living in the household, you can bounce ideas off each other but with a single mum she has to make all decisions herself. This is where self-doubt can kick in.

Whether it is ‘can you afford it?’ to ‘do I take my child to the doctor or the hospital?’, it can be crippling, anxiety creating and can cause doubt in every decision.  At its best, you may not act on that one question you were considering. At worst, it may impact on all areas of your life and that of your child’s. The struggles of being a single mum are not always related to finance.

3. Work life balance of single mums

A survey by the ONS showed that men have an average of five hours more leisure time each week than women. To make us feel even more tired, women with children under the age of 15 have 14 hours less leisure time a week compared to women living on their own. These statistics show us that women with children do not have a good work-life balance.

The fact that women make up the majority of the part-time workforce already puts us at a disadvantage. Part-time jobs usually expect full-time effort. This does not work well with mothers who also have to deal with school pick-up, chauffeur duties, household chores and more. Family chores erode into their leisure time causing stress and potential burnout. So how are working mums able to find a work/life balance? Luckily, there are solutions.

4. Custody arrangements

Custody arrangements can often cause a minefield of problems. Separated parents would have different schedules and lifestyles, so arranging custody can be difficult. Depending on the location both parents, there can also be extended travelling time transporting your child.

Custody can also cause emotional issues for both you and your child. It can be pretty traumatic having to hand your child over at certain times every week. Having to talk to them when they are unhappy with the situation and explain why it has to happen is expecting a lot of a child. It can be a draining time for both of you. Another struggle of being a single mum.

5. Child Support

Child maintenance can either be managed privately by the separated parents or through the courts. The parent receiving maintenance is usually the mother for two reasons. One, she is normally the primary caregiver. Two, she is also often the lower wage earner due to also having to care for her child. Most parents try to arrange maintenance privately, which the courts recommend but in certain situations, it can become necessary to go the legal route.

Maintenance can be a very stressful issue for single mums. Not knowing if it is going to come through regularly every month means you cannot factor this into a monthly budget. This depends on your relationship with your ex-partner. You could view this money as a welcome extra, rather than factoring it into your monthly budget.

6. Loneliness as a single mum

This makes me feel a little sad just writing it! The level of loneliness as a single parent can depend on your situation. The part we often struggle with the most is not having the physical or mental support needed to bring up a child.

Often, grandparents babysit, and without them, single mums can struggle with childcare. This means we do not see friends as often as we used to. Sadly, in some situations, friends do not know how to deal with your new status and can drift away. At a time when you need more support, this can exacerbate the struggles of being a single mum.

When we are going through a change in our situation, we often need to talk through our problems. To know that there is support there when our mood fluctuates due to the pressure of single parenting. Even to have a shoulder to cry on it if gets too much.

what are the problems of being a single mum

Life as a single mum

Although the struggles of being a single mum can be challenging, it is also true that there are solutions to the above problems. There are lots of positives to be had in being a single-parent family. So let’s turn to how you can get on the right track in your role as a mum.

1. How to get your finances under control

Whatever your financial situation currently is, it can be improved. Taking control of your money is a big step towards independence as a single mum. A healthy bank balance helps towards peace of mind.

  • Take a deep breath and have a good look at your bank account
  • Create a spreadsheet for monthly incomings and outgoings
  • Open a savings account if you do not have one
  • Once you know what is left over each month, use an app like Chip to automatically build savings
  • Make an appointment with a financial advisor. It may seem optimistic at the moment but to plan for your future, you need to know your options.
  • Stop spending until you are in control of your current account and savings.
  • Lastly, make plans. One year, five years etc. With spreadsheets and timelines, our goals seem that much more achievable. Who needs a man when you can do it by yourself?

2. Letting go of self-doubt

Wouldn’t it be the most exhilarating feeling if you knew how to overcome your insecurity and low self-esteem? You would be free from self-doubt and the constant questioning of your decisions and motives. Follow these tips below to help you to move on with your life, mentally and emotionally.

All of these are achievable in conjunction with work on your mindset. It doesn’t come overnight but you can start right away and see your confidence flourish.

  • Change your language. Whether it is spoken to others or just your thoughts, your language needs to be positive. Talk and think about yourself positively.
  • Write down daily affirmations and say them out loud every morning. They will set a positive, can-do tone for your day ahead.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Allow no room for negativity or negative people in your life.
  • Don’t doubt past decisions. If you know some of your choices have been bad ones, there is no point in dwelling on them. Feel confident that you have learnt from any mistakes and know not to repeat them in the future.
  • Lastly, use the above points to give yourself confidence in the future. With affirmative thinking, affirmations and positive friends our mindset will start to grow, and our self-doubt will start to vanish.

3. How important is work-life balance (to you?)

The answer to this should be the same for everyone as the need for a work life balance is within us all. With single mums, you have many invisible threads pulling you in multiple directions. ‘Mum, where are my clothes?’, ‘When will dinner be ready?’. ‘Can you work overtime? It can feel never-ending.

There is always a point where you need to say, ‘no more’. Whether it is work or home life, you have to say to yourself that you need some personal time. Go through your calendar and list the main jobs you do each day and week.

  • See which can be delegated to others. Can your children help more with chores?
  • Work out how much time you think you should be dedicating to work and home chores each day.
  • Set a fixed time to finish each day.
  • After doing these, draw up a routine for yourself.
  • After trying it for a couple of weeks, tweak it for any improvements.
  • List what you would like to do in your leisure time and make sure at least a couple of these are factored into your week.

4. Making split custody work for both you and your child

Believe it or not, custody arrangements can work well for both you and your child. The important thing to remember here is that your child is the priority.

  • How old is your child? As your child’s needs are paramount, it is imperative they are looked at first. It is important they have a good relationship with both parents but also important they feel like they have a primary home for a stable routine. As they get older, they can have more of a say in where they want to be during the week.
  • Before deciding anything, look at your daily schedule. What rota would suit you?
  • How far does your ex live from you and your child’s school? This should be an important part when deciding on custody.
  • Make sure you look at your child’s current relationship with the other parent. If it is not a good one or the parent does not have the best reasons for wanting more custody, then fight for what you think is right for your child.

Custody arrangements can be a stressful time. It is best to get a routine in place that suits all of you as soon as possible. If you decide to do it informally, make sure it is in writing. This way, it is easy to refer to if there are any arguments.

5. Child maintenance calculator

When couples split up, money often becomes an issue. As the primary care-giver you are going to be paying the most day to day costs out of your pocket for your child, so you need to get it right.

The CSA (child support agency) says it is always best to try to resolve this issue privately. They tend to only get involved when the parents cannot settle it amicably. In order to resolve it quickly and with as little stress as possible, I would recommend the following.

  • Use the CSA calculator as a guide. Enter both of your incomes and details including how often your child stays at the other parents. It is an easy calculator to use and gives a rough idea. Bear in mind, this is the basic recommended amount the non-primary care giver should pay and only covers the essentials, e.g. rent/mortgage and food.
  • Once you have this amount, look at your own financial situation. Write down your incomings and outgoings and work out how much your child costs a month. This extra amount should be shared between the two of you.
  • Try not to rely on maintenance. Unfortunately, it is not a guarantee you will receive this money every month so to factor it into your monthly budget would be a mistake.
  • If you and your ex cannot agree on maintenance, maybe try mediation where you can both put across your point of view. The person with you is impartial and will help you understand the other persons viewpoint. This could be a peaceful way of rectifying the situation.
  • As a last resort, you need to approach the CSA for help with making sure both parents are contributing financially for their child’s upbringing. To learn how maintenance is calculated, go to the Child Maintenance Service . They will set up the process legally for you. If you do not receive some contributions you can go back to the CSA for them to contact your ex. However, this process can be stressful and ugly, so it is always best to resolve it amicably between the two of you.
  • Money can be a difficult situation to get right between the two of you but if it is done as smoothly as possible, both you and your child will benefit; financially, emotionally, and mentally.

6.  Combatting loneliness in your struggles as a single mom

  • We have all experienced loneliness at some point in our lives. But sadly, it is almost a given that single mums will feel this more than others as part of their struggles of being a single mum. But don’t reach for the packet of biscuits and wail if you are reading this on your own. As an experienced single mum, I have been there and came out the other side singing and dancing.
  • Accept the fact that at the beginning of your single parent journey, you are going to sometimes feel lonely. And upset. Then lonely again.
  • Learn to love or at least like your own company. What activities do you enjoy doing by yourself? Can you add to this list?
  • When planning your week ahead, look at the time you will be either by yourself or just with your child. Plan a family activity for both of you.
  • Learn to enjoy down-time by yourself. This is a time for you to relax, with no one telling you what to do.
  • Make sure you keep in regular contact with friends. Friendship is a two way street and requires work to keep it healthy.
  • Recognise times when you feel the loneliest and plan in advance. For example, if there are dates you would rather not be by yourself, like an anniversary then call a friend and plan a day out.
  • Take care of yourself. Loneliness can be part of the road to poor mental health. Looking after yourself physically and paying attention to how you feel mentally is all part of good mental health.
struggles of a single mum. single mum guild

Single mum guilt

The road of a single mum is often riddled with guilt. Guilt about not spending enough time with your child, not having enough money to do everything they want and not being able to bring them up in a family with two parents. But it is important to remember that all mums feel some level of guilt, no matter whether there is just one parent or two.

Positives in being a single parent family

As a single parent, you are on a journey. The beginning is going to be rocky with some bumps along the way, but with perseverance, confidence in yourself and maturity, you and your child will succeed in building a beautiful life together. Society sees a single parent family as a negative unit but you don’t need to. Your relationship with your child will grow closer. As you are challenged with your struggles of being a single mum, your confidence in your abilities will increase. With daily affirmations, organizing your finances and planning for your futures, both your lives can only get better.

Read the lists above and see how they relate to your situation. Don’t feel demoralised, rather feel energised. Decide on your immediate and long-term future and rejoice that you recognise what areas can be improved and that you have the tools to do so.

A single mum is a warrior. You are fierce and protective and have the joy of raising a child. Any negativity in your path can be swept away as you forge the future for yourself and your child. I have every confidence in you.

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struggles of being a single mum