We’ve all heard the divorce rate in the US hovers around 50%, but did you know the number of single parent households has tripled since 1960? Statistics show that 25% of households in the US are spearheaded by single moms, and that number has been steadily increasing. The Atlantic refers to this as the mysterious and alarming rise of single-parenthood.
This article debunks the notion that the reason we are seeing more ‘Breadwinner Moms’ (the highest earners in their households) is because women are being paid more than ever before. Rather, the reality is more women are the breadwinners because they don’t have spouses. Sadly, single mothers often struggle for survival by earning only one quarter of the income that married women earn. This financial burden and struggle only adds to the pressure every parent has.
Being a single parent is a hard. I know this because I am one. My daughter is now 21 years old and I raised her entirely by myself. I had little family support because my family still lives in Germany, so I was the sole person responsible for catering to the physical, emotional, and educational needs and demands of my child.
When I talk about managing the “second shift” at home after working a full time job, I speak from experience. I needed to work full time to pay our bills, and 60% of other single mothers do the same according to the article in The Atlantic. I know firsthand how hard it is to function when you feel that you are in a constant pressure cooker trying to balance the demands of a job and parenting. Plus, there are other desires, such as having and maintaining a decent social life, taking care of yourself physically, preparing healthy meals, etc. Many single parents just give up hope that they will get everything they want—they can barely survive with the lives they have now.
A single parent who juggles children, a job, and a social life can become burnt out and let all the balls drop. The Women’s Code explains it through the Superhuman Paradox: we want to be perfect in all areas of our lives and often end up feeling like failures when we fall short. We blame ourselves for not fulfilling our expectations to master everything we do with excellence.
We can’t simply find more time or energy in each day, so how do we manage our expectations with our realities? The answer is to find our ego-RHYTHM and set a Main Focus. The concept of ego-RHYTHM is time-based and it allows us to identify what our personal rhythm is right now. Once we understand what the most important aspect of our life is, we focus on excelling in that one area. A rhythm only lasts three to four years before our focus naturally changes, so you can excel at everything you want if you allow it to happen over time. The realization that this is just now, not forever allows us to breathe a sigh of relief.
Here are a few tips that busy single parents can use to de-stress:
- Find support. When I was raising my daughter, we took turns with other families, often with single parents, to have weekend sleepovers. A weekend to myself once in a while was priceless! Cherish those relationships like your sanity depends on it—because it does.
- When you have ‘me’ time, opt to do something fun instead of catching up with laundry and cleaning. Go see a movie, take a leisurely walk, or have coffee with a friend or even alone. Make a conscious effort to allow yourself some grown-up fun whenever you can.
- Stop feeling guilty. Single parenting probably wasn’t your first choice, and besides, children of single parents do just as well as children of married couples. You are doing great—you are doing everything you possibly can. When my daughter went to college, it took her only five days to send me text thanking me for how I had prepared her to cook, shop, clean, and manage her time. You can expect a similar text message!
There is a simple way to support the single parents you know: invite them to all your social gatherings. Women especially can feel like social outcasts because, while there is always a place at the table for a single dad, single moms aren’t invited much. Let’s break this trend by supporting each other!
If it hadn’t been for my married friends, Carol and Kelly, I would have emotionally not survived. Both of them understood that I wasn’t after their husbands, but that I simply needed friends. Help your single parenting friends by getting them out as often as you can. They will thank you forever.