Single parenting is a full-time job and then some. We have to be the mom and the dad. Single parents have to single-handedly make all of the decisions and do all of the work of two parents. We also have to somehow make enough money to support our families.
It’s fucking hard.
I’m a single mom of two girls and also a business owner of two businesses. I constantly get asked, “How do you do it?” from those who don’t understand. Aside from that question I also had a lot of criticism from people around me. Being a single mom wasn’t an option for me but it was the best thing that I could have done for myself and my children.
When I first became a single mom I didn’t have a system. I didn’t know what I was doing and I just survived somehow. Doing what I thought was right at the time, I worked two jobs while my mom watched my kids and just survived. Honestly, we were barely surviving. I was working a 12-hour-a-day retail job and we were just making ends meet. I spiraled into probably the darkest depression of my life when I realized I was working and still couldn’t pay the bills.
Working outside the house is great. Having that social interaction is amazing when you are a single parent but financially it wasn’t working for us. I realized that I had to figure something out and I had to figure it out quick.
Becoming an entrepreneur was one of the best things I could have done. I’m not a risk taker. Honestly, I’m pretty damn chicken when it comes to doing anything that’s outside of the box. Starting my own business scared the shit out of me and I didn’t know if I would be able to grow a successful business but I knew I had nothing else to lose. I couldn’t keep working retail because it was taking a toll on my body. I was always tired, always in pain and couldn’t function much after getting home from a 12-hour day. It was impossible and I physically couldn’t do it anymore, it wasn’t worth the pay.
I built my businesses up on my own and couldn’t be more proud of myself. I started at rock bottom and slowly started to gain optimism as I learned about business and how to be successful. My family was my inspiration and I knew that I had to do absolutely anything to succeed and build those businesses up. Being a positive role model for my kids was all I could think about. They knew how badly we were struggling and I wanted to show them that it was possible to turn that around with just some hard work. My girls are now extremely grateful for everything we have in life and don’t take anything for granted. They know how hard I worked to build a life that we now love and they’re thankful every single day. My girls also know that they can do absolutely anything they put their minds to and I love that.
So how do I do it with two businesses and two kids?
I have help
Throughout my life, I’ve been so lucky to have family members who were extremely supportive of me emotionally and financially. When I couldn’t pay the bills and was in danger of having the lights shut off I had family that offered some help. They didn’t expect me to pay them back but I did as soon as I was financially able to. My family was also very supportive of me taking the risk and starting my own business. They weren’t critical of me, they weren’t judgemental, they were very supportive. I honestly couldn’t have asked for more.
Now that I have my businesses, kids and not enough hours in the day I still have help. My mom, unfortunately, can’t live on her own because she’s disabled so she is able to live with me and help as much as she can. She’s my babysitter, my emotional support when I need it and my rock. My mom raised me as a single mother and I have to say, I can only wish that I will eventually be the single mom that she was. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mom.
I stay optimistic
Yes, I struggle with depression and sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. But I make myself. Being a single mom I don’t have the option of sleeping in while someone else gets the kids ready for school. That responsibility solely falls on me. I stay as optimistic and positive as I can even when I feel hopeless.
And there are plenty of times throughout the week when I feel hopeless.
I try to think of everything that’s great in my life and how far I’ve come — it helps me a great deal. Even though I can’t control when my depression hits or how hard it hits, thinking positively gets me through the day.
I learned how to budget
Budgeting has been a part of my life since I worked that retail job. I had to learn quickly how to support a family of three on a small income and had to learn how to spend my money wisely. We’re no longer financially struggling but I still budget my money because I do have a nagging fear of everything crashing down again. Every month we know how much we need to put away to spend on bills, we know how much goes for rent and we know exactly how to spend every cent. Budgeting has always helped us to feel secure knowing that we have the money for our bills above anything else. It has also taught my kids’ financial responsibility. They know how to sit down at the beginning of every month and plan where the money goes. Savings has also been something that they quickly learned about. We spoke about putting money away every single month in order to have a safety net just in case everything does crash down some day. You always want to have something to fall back on because owning your own business is a risk and you never know what can happen.
Also read: How to Teach Your Kids About Money
Saving/Investing with apps
While searching for ways to save money I came across two apps that I absolutely love. They’re called Acorns and Stash. These apps have a variety of ways to save money on a monthly basis and they’ve helped me out a great deal. They both are apps that teach you how to incorporate investing into your savings plan but they teach you investing by allowing you to invest in smaller exchange-traded funds. (ETFs)
Stash (shown below) allows you to choose from causes or things that you’re interested in so you can invest easier. It gives you a rundown of what companies you’re partly investing in and also shows it’s progress in graph form. This will help you to make an educated decision on what to invest.
Acorns is similar except they allow you to save/invest with roundups. Let’s say you spend $5.50 at Starbucks. Acorns will recognize that and invest/save $0.50 for you automatically in order to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar. These apps are both amazing and have helped me to save up over $1,000 in the past year. I highly suggest them to any single mother who needs to save a little more.
Also read: How I Save Money with Acorns & Stash
I stay organized
When you’re a single mom with any type of job you need to stay organized. I’m sure your kids have tons of after school activities just like mine to and it’s hard to keep everything straight. Here are some options that I use to stay super, super organized as a single mother.
Your phone is probably your lifeline but it could also be an amazing organizational tool. Over the past few years, I’ve found so many amazing apps that help me to stay organized throughout my day. Alerts help me to never forget an appointment, activity or forget my kids at school. (Hey, it happens!)
Evernote – I use Evernote to save important emails or documents that come from the kids schools, in the mail, etc… Evernote easily allows you to take photos of important papers and save them. You can also forward emails right into your Evernote inbox and tag/categorize them in order to find them at a seconds notice.
Trello – Trello is an app that I constantly sing the praises of. This app is basically a blank slate that you can mold into whatever you want. I use it for planning business, cleaning, parties, etc… I love it because you can make it fit your needs. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of app. If you don’t download anything else off of this list, this is one you need to download.
Wunderlist – I’ve tried tons of different to-do list apps over the past few years. TONS! Wunderlist is the one that fit my needs the best. I love the attractive UI, the ease of adding/checking off tasks and the ability to categorize. This to-do list app is one of the best and one that I will continue using for a long time to come.
Tiny Calendar – Of course on every phone, you have the🎶 stock calendar app but Tiny Calendar is much better for my personal needs. I mostly just love the UI and how attractive the app is. I like pretty and clean things. Don’t judge me.
Google Keep – I use Google Keep for quick notes that I would normally just slap on a sticky note. This helps to reduce the amount of paper and random notes that I have in my purse and on my desk. (However, I am still a sticky note addict and love collecting them to use in my planners. Again, don’t judge.)
GrubHub – Okay, you got me, these last two aren’t actually organizational apps but they’re helpful as hell to a single mom. I use GrubHub at least once or twice a week. There are nights when we just don’t have time to cook because of activities and this app is a lifesaver!
MyFitnessPal – All moms should try to lead as healthy of a lifestyle as they can. MyFitnessPal helps me with that so I can track what I eat, when I eat and my weight loss progress. Without this app, I probably wouldn’t be as conscious of what I eat and how many calories I have left to eat to keep my weight on track.
Also read: 10 Apps to Keep Busy Moms Organized
🎶 “I like big planners and I cannot lie…” 🎶
For real though, have you visited our Instagram and seen the size of my planner? It’s huge…and heavy… I use my planner(s) to plan out my entire life. Actually, I have multiple planners that I use for different purposes to even further organize my life. My absolute favorite planners to use are Filofax and Kikki-K. To be completely honest there’s not much difference between the two with usage. The planners are set up exactly the same. The only difference between the two is price (Filo is more expensive) and materials (Filo is usually made of leather). The quality of both are amazing and they both stand up to the test of time.
I currently use both in my planner arsenal. My Kikki-K is my personal, home and life planner and my Filofax is for business. I love them so much and I don’t know what I would do without them, honestly. If you’re looking for amazing, high-quality planners I’d highly suggest considering either Kikki-K or Filofax. They both have a wide variety of planners to choose from. Kikki-K, however, has fun colors, designs and is just a more playful brand.
But I digress…
Planners are essential for a busy mom, especially ring-bound planners because of the versatility. You can print off papers and punch them to put within a section or you can rearrange things with ease. The versatility is what turned me on to ring-bound planners. I often like to switch out to my Travelers Notebook but I always come back to the ring-bound system.
Just food for thought.
I’m sure we all make to-do lists but I had to include this since it’s such a big part of my day. To-do lists have become the most important thing to me when organizing my day. I make separate lists for business and personal and try to limit to only what I know I can handle in a day. It honestly gives me so much satisfaction when I’m able to check off something that I know I had to get done. It’s one of the best feelings of being accomplished.
I make time for myself
I recently wrote about self-care and the importance of taking care of yourself. This is one of the most essential things that every mom should do, not only single moms. Taking care of yourself and spending some time alone is important for your mental and emotional health as well as your sanity. Whether it’s locking yourself in the bathroom with a glass of wine or having a babysitter for the night so you can go out with friends, it’s important to take a short time off. It will help you relax, unwind and refresh. This really, really helps — trust me.
Even though we aren’t single moms by choice it’s still very important to make the best of what we have. We’re strong and powerful women who can overcome any obstacle that’s in our way. We just have to believe in ourselves and take small steps to improve our everyday life.
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