According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), about 45% of homes are headed by a single parent. That’s nearly half the homes in Kenya.
Mothers find themselves raising their children singlehandedly for a variety of reasons. Some of them make the decision to leave their relationships and go solo while others are abandoned by the fathers of their children. Some women are widows and they too become single parents.
Whatever circumstances led you to becoming a single mum, there are some things you need to remind yourself especially when the going gets tough.
1. Take it one day at a time
Life is ever changing. As a single mum, you will feel overwhelmed trying to juggle it all: your children, running a home, your work. Don’t stress yourself too much.
Set realistically attainable goals. Avoid planning too far ahead. Don’t aim for a perfect household, seemingly perfect life and perfect kids. There will be times when just being able to serve a homemade meal, do the dishes and have clean ironed clothes will be enough. Start off with a simple routine and once you have settled you can add on other tasks that you didn’t seem to have time for.
2. Have trusted confidantes
Surround yourself with people who support you. Avoid people who criticise you or who are very negative. It’s better to have a few trusted friends or family members or both who you know you can rely on for support when you just need a break. These people can also chip in and babysit so that you can have a self-care day or help pick up the kids from school.
Have a group of single mum friends with whom you can exchange your experiences. This will show you that there are many women in a similar situation to yours and you needn’t worry. You will have people to walk the journey of single motherhood with you.
3. Don’t worry about money
You might have lofty goals when it comes to providing for your little on and that’s okay. However, don’t beat yourself up when money becomes tight. Remember that you are doing the best you can and that your child will appreciate whatever little you have to offer.
4. Have confidence in your situation
Inasmuch as being a single mother is not a strange thing, don’t be surprised when some people criticise you. Your situation, though not traditional or ideal, is yours and you shouldn’t apologise for it.
5. Remember to live your life
Yes, your little one needs you and being the only present parent and sometimes sole breadwinner can be draining, physically and emotionally. But you also need to go out, socialise and enjoy adult company. And when you’re ready, date.
6. Dealing with your ex
M. Gary Neumann, author of Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way wrote, "You have an obligation to your kids to stay friendly -- or at least civil -- with your former spouse.”
This might be a bitter pill to swallow but it’s important for your kids to see the two of you getting along no matter how hurt you both are. Avoid speaking badly about their father in front of them. Find a way to communicate that allows you to rein in your emotions before you speak. A New York based family lawyer suggests using email which gives you the opportunity to ‘sleep before you send’.