Becoming a single parent can be one of your most challenging experiences. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, don’t worry – you are not alone. Around 25% of children live in single-parent households.
Getting through the first year can be the most difficult, but many single parents thrive. If you need some encouragement that it will get better, check out these successful single mom stories.
Here are some tips to help you get through those first few chaotic months.
First, The legal stuff
1. Establish a budget based upon one income
If you’re a newly single parent, it’s important to establish a budget right away and make the most of your limited resources. You will find several changes need to be made to acclimate to a single income.
When creating this budget, there are many things to consider, such as housing costs, child care expenses, and lifestyle changes. In addition, if you divorced, you likely have legal fees to add as well.
However, by taking the time to sit down and map out your finances, you can make the transition on your budget much smoother.
Here are a few tips on how to Create a Single Income Budget
- Create a budget and stick to it.
- Spend wisely and avoid unnecessary expenses.
- Find ways to supplement your income.
- Seek out help from family and friends if needed.
- Stay organized and stay on top of your finances.
- Keep in mind that things will get better with time.
2. Ensure all bills are under your name
Divorce is hard. There’s no sugar coating that. But what’s even more challenging is being a newly divorced single mom trying to handle all the bills independently.
You need to do a few things to ensure your bills and credit are in order.
1) Change your accounts and ensure everything is under your name. This is important because if your ex has money issues, you can be liable for them if you are listed jointly. Additionally, you’ll need to have your address updated if you moved. Note: some companies and creditors will require a divorce decree or proof of residence to remove someone from your account or to add yourself.
2) Get organized. Having everything in one place will make it easier to track what’s due when and how much money you have available.
3) Set aside one day a week to review your budget and bills. If possible, consider auto-payment for all your fixed expenses. You have enough happening in your life – you don’t want to chance missing a payment.
4. Establish credit, if needed
Establishing credit is essential not only for your own financial security but also for the well-being of your children. Here are some tips on how to get started.
One of the most important things you can do is get a credit card in your name and use it responsibly. Pay your bills on time and keep your credit utilization low.
Another way to build up your credit is to open a savings account under your name only and make regular deposits.
Once you have established a strong credit history, you will be better positioned to obtain larger loans and mortgages should you need them down the road.
5. Review insurance policies and retirement plans to update the beneficiaries
There are a few things you need to take care of right away. One of those things is updating your beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies. You most likely no longer want your ex to be the beneficiary, so it is crucial to make sure the right people are listed.
Creating a will and designating a power of attorney are all things to think about and update or create. Talk to an attorney or a financial planner if you need help updating your beneficiary.
The emotional and practical stuff
The legal details are not necessarily the most important. Having peace of mind and support is crucial, especially during the early days.
Here are some things you’ll want to do for your and your children’s emotional protection.
6. Setting boundaries for yourself and your children
It is important to set boundaries from the start. It is much easier to set expectations from the start than trying to win back some boundaries you let go of early on.
Boundaries will help you establish authority with your children and maintain a healthy relationship. First, decide which activities you are comfortable doing with your children and which ones you need time for yourself.
Your parenting plan or divorce decree most likely lists when the child’s other parent can spend time with your children. However, things will come up on both of your ends. If it’s possible, strive to be fair and consider the needs of both you, your children, and your children’s other parent.
7. Create and Stick to a schedule
A schedule will help you stay organized and on top of your responsibilities, which can be a challenge when juggling everything independently. A schedule will also make the days more predictable, which is comforting for children.
By taking some time to create a plan and sticking to it, you’ll be able to manage your time and stress levels better. Here are some tips for creating a successful schedule as a newly divorced single mom.
8. Reach out for support from friends and family members
Whether it’s an encouraging phone call or a meal dropped off at your door, your community network is invaluable when you’re going through such a significant life transition.
9. Take care of yourself
You may be an emotional mess in the beginning or you may feel like you’re in a constant state of exhaustion. Either way, be gentle with yourself for the first year. Give yourself grace each and every day.
Taking care of yourself can mean anything from carving out time for exercise or simply taking five minutes each day to sit in stillness and relax. Whatever form it takes, prioritizing your own well-being will help you stay grounded when things feel chaotic or overwhelming.
10. Look into Free Resources
There are many programs and resources available to single parents that you may want to check out here.
Finally, try not to view yourself solely as a single parent; instead, see yourself as an amazing parent navigating life’s transition into single parenthood with grace and resilience. Remember that there is no “right” way to do single parenting. Although it doesn’t seem like it now, one day, you will look back at this time in your life and be amazed at how far you’ve come.