Building your support network as a single mom is critical. No one can do it all, and as single moms, we feel like we are expected to do everything. A friend told me that this generation of parents is really the first generation that believes that we have to do everything. We work, take care of the home, take our kids to activities, review and help with homework, and everything in between without asking for help. As a matter of fact, another friend posted on social media about how her mom was coming over to help her with her laundry and another woman with children scolded her for being a burden. We are conditioned to do everything alone and refuse to ask for help because asking for help shows weakness. If you haven’t heard this yet, let me tell you that this is a lie! Jesus didn’t intend for us to be alone. When he was on Earth he traveled with disciples and he performed miracles using ordinary people. Even Jesus didn’t do his work alone, so why should you? Don’t miss out on critical rest or peace of mind because you are trying to be Supermom.
In the past, people raised children in a village. Depending on how old you are you may have experienced a time where you came home from school and immediately you got in trouble. You were probably thinking, “I just walked in the door. What could I possibly have done?” Then as your parents told you what you did, you immediately realized that they knew that you either got in trouble at school or you did something you weren’t supposed to do before your parents got home. To this day, I still don’t know the network of eyes that my parents had set up to report back to them. This was the way it was. Parents didn’t get upset when someone told them their child was acting up. They respected the teachers because they knew that the teachers played an important role in ensuring their children could thrive. They appreciated the neighbors because they could report back what happened when the parents were at work and the children were at home, or they could even help to make sure that everything was okay. This was a part of the village. In today’s society, many of us are missing that community. I have to confess, there were times where I lived places and didn’t even know my neighbors. When I was growing up, that was unheard of.
As single moms, it is even more imperative that we get to know our neighbors, build strong partnerships with our children’s teachers, and identify other parents that are good people who share your values who can help with some of the transportation duties. It’s also a good idea to see what educational and fun community programs exist that your children can attend. This will help you avoid burnout, reduce stress, work, and give you the peace of mind that you are caring for yourself and your children are ok, too.
Who can you look to for that village?
Here are 7 ways that you can build your support village.
- Family. Do you have any family nearby? If you don’t have family nearby then maybe you can consider moving closer to family. There is no shame in deciding to move because you want your children to grow up around people who love and care for them. Being around family can give you amazing peace of mind too because you can leave your children in a safe environment so you can work, get some me-time, or run errands without worry.
- Friends. Do you have friends who have children or don’t have children, but love them? With this one, I recommend that if you are pregnant to write the names down of everyone who offered to babysit. If you are not pregnant, then write the names down of everyone who asked you to let them know if they can help. Even if you don’t want to leave your children alone, you can have your friend over while you do dishes, laundry, nap, etc. I would have my friends visit so I could teach virtually, catch up on chores, or play with one twin while I bathed the other. Just having someone keep one twin occupied so I could bathe one twin in peace was so helpful. The little things do matter.
- Other moms. This one may be difficult for some people, including me. With this one, you really have to trust the Holy Spirit and ask Him to guide you to moms who are good people who share your values and morals. With all of the insanity in the world, you really need to stay prayed up and listen to God about who you can trust to help with your children. Once you find a great mom, see if you can work together to coordinate and trade off school drop-off and pick-up responsibilities, transportation to and from activities, etc. You could even take turns hosting playdates with other moms and children. There is a lot that you can do to help ease the workload. A friend’s daughter is friends with a girl whose mom is single. My friend knew that with the mom’s work schedule it was very hard for her to get to work on time and drop her daughter off at school. Therefore, my friend got to know the mom and the daughter and then said that her mom could drop her daughter off at her home and she would give her breakfast and take her to school. It’s about building community, listening to God, and trusting that He will put the right people in your life to help.
- Church. If you attend church, talk to some of the members to see what programming is available for children. If your children are too young to participate, see if there is a trusted member who is able to babysit or provide care in the home.
- Care.com. I prefer to stick with referrals from church members or personal friends. However, I do know people who have successfully hired nannies and babysitters on Care.com. Just make sure you really screen and interview the people who you are considering hiring.
- Early childhood education providers. This can cost a little more money, but get a few referrals from friends, family, or the church to identify early childhood education centers that provide wraparound services. These services include things like pick-up from school, extended hours, drop-off at school, etc. These are services that you may be able to use if you work early and/or work late, or even if you just need to take a mini self-care break after a long day at work. Check the prices and your budget to see if you can use this on a weekly, monthly, or as needed basis.
- Community centers. Similar to the early childhood education centers, check your local community center or the YMCA to see if they have services or programs for small children or after-school programming. This will also allow you to drop your child off, and they can have fun, while you take some time for yourself. If you use this or the early childhood education centers, just make sure that you do periodic pop-up visits to make sure that you like the environment.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms transform their finances, enjoy life, and stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!