31 reasons being a single mom is AWESOME (according to readers)

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A while ago a member of Millionaire Single Mom on Facebook said: “I’m a new mom, expecting in a few months. What POSITIVES can you tell me about single motherhood?” I responded with a few points, and invited other members to share about being single moms. Here is what we said:

How to be a single mom — including with no help

I often get asked: “Emma, how can I be a single mom?”

What the question really means is: Emma, how can I be a kick-ass, successful, happy single mom?

And deep within that question is:

I'm pregnant and it looks like I'm doing this alone — how hard can I expect it to be??

I have to get out of this relationship — how hard is it to be a single mom after divorce?!! Please tell me now so I can decide?!!

I'm thinking of getting pregnant on my own. How hard will it be?

If this resonates with you, then let me help you out. What you are really, actually, truthfully asking me is:

How do I make sure my kids won't be messed up — and are even successful, productive adults?

How can I break the stereotype of the welfare, broke, angry single mom?

Will I ever find love? Romance? Where do I even start?

Can I even be a happy single mom?

WTF, this is hard and scary and I don't know where to start?!!!

The fact is that you can more than cope, or financially survive as a single mom — you can thrive.

Becoming a single mom

Maybe you are going through a divorce, got pregnant during a casual relationship, are considering becoming a single mom by choice, by adoption or fostering, or any of the other countless scenarios you can find yourself a single mom.

This can be terrifying. After all, all that responsibility of caring for and paying for a human will likely fall on you.

Single motherhood can also be exhilarating. Listen to what this single mom has to say:

[Emma’s note: If at all possible, find ways to collaborate, forgive and move forward with some sort of co-parenting relationship with your kids’ dad. Studies find this is really what is best for kids, but it is also what is best for MOMS! You need a break, support, a second adult to share in the time, emotional, money and logistical responsibilities of raising a human!

Plus, all that free time when your kids are with their father, you can build a business or career, date, relax, exercise, volunteer or hang with your friends. More on how to successfully co-parent — even with the most toxic ex]

“I love being a single mom.”

 When my ex husband left me pregnant, I could not imagine how I would survive. Now, I struggle to imagine a life as a partnered mom. Like many single mothers, I enjoy the autonomy of parenting solo, I cherish my financial and sexual freedom, and I am really proud of what I have accomplished. 

Most of all, I realize how resilient I am — and how resilient we are as humans. Also, it is impossible to know what will make us happy.

What are the benefits of being a single mom?

  • You can do what you want as a single mom. Especially if you are a solo parent, you don’t have to negotiation about much at all.
  • You can date!
  • Sex is better after motherhood. New relationship with your body + not giving a shit any more = AWESOME SEX. [Best dating apps and sites for single parents]
  • You can have a great perception of life that you will model for your child. You’ve gone through it. You know that all those ‘perfect’ families are secretly quirky at best, probably disintegrating, and your friends all confide in you their messed-up marriages, dysfunctional sex lives and all the other perfectly normally messy human foibles. [Are single-mom families whole families?]
  • You may find new and better ways to co-parent with your ex. So many women report being stunned by how much better of a father their kids’ dad is after divorce, and how they find new and improved ways to co-parent with their ex. A co-parenting app may help.

Being a single mom: How to be a good single mom

  • “You don’t have the expectation of how the other person will act/behave so don’t have to face the disappointment when it doesn’t look/feel like you thought it would. I don’t say that to be cynical, I appreciate that I already know that I have to do it all and can prepare accordingly. Expectations of others can be a real bitch.” —Traci
  • “You will fall in love with your village and yourself. It might not happen right away, but when you look back a month, 6 months, a year out…you start to say to yourself, “Hey! I can do this!” You will learn that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of strength and in the asking you will learn how loved you are. I became a single mom without planning to do so and have been on my own from day 1. It was tough. There were a lot of tears and a lot self-doubt…but I have to say, once I let go of the life I thought I SHOULD have, I was able to start to fall in love with the one I never imagined.” —Ana
  • “You learn to talk to yourself, question yourself, your motives, your joys, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, you learn what works, what doesn’t – you know you need to make it work for you and your little one and in that process you go way out your comfort zone and you learn so much about yourself.You know your weak spots and how to handle them and you really get to know your strengths and how to handle them. For me its just like a big network of super exciting tunnels of depth and you learn every minute. Damn, you feel alive!” —Shana
  • “My relationship with my kids is very personal since I became a single mom. In the years since the divorce, I feel like my kids know “me” beyond just who I am to them as a parent. When I was married, I was part of mom and dad. Now, they see me independently. We talk about my job, my goals, even my date prospects (my 8 yo daughter likes to scrolling through e-dating prospects with me, identifying guys she think would be a good match.) Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed with the work of single parenting. But when I don’t, I feel a stronger connection to my kids than I ever did before.” —Tiffany

Being a single mom: How to be a happy single mom

  • “You can pick the name, the school, the clothes. If my kid wants to play wearing my bra and a sparkly hat (which he has done) he gets to play wearing my bra and a sparkly hat. I have the most INCREDIBLE bond with my son. We are a team. We have a wonderful village (many members of which we didn’t meet until after he was born, fyi, in case you are worried about your current village or lack thereof.) But we went through a lot in the beginning (prematurity, adoption complications, etc) and we are stronger for it.” —Laura
  • “It’s just FUN. Single mom often carries the image of a downtrodden woman struggling to make ends meet. And while there are certainly shades of that sometimes, it is FUN. I didn’t have to make dinner for anyone when he was a baby so I could sit on the couch or the floor and play with him and make faces to get him to laugh for HOURS if I wanted. Now that he’s older, we can take off when we want and go to the zoo, the children’s museum. We aren’t accountable to anyone but us. Becoming a solo parent was THE BEST thing I could have done with my life.” —Sharon
  • “And although there have been times where I’ve felt overwhelmed, he is so wonderfully awesome that he reminds me every day of my very important job as his mama. I have a tattoo with an anchor and his name. He’s the thing that has always motivated me to stay grounded, make the hard choices, and even if i slip up, knowing he needs me brings me back to reality to keep pushing on. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” —Roberta
  • “You certainly become a master at time management and this skill migrates to all areas of life. The motivation to work effectively skyrockets. And my self esteem went up. Not immediately, but really soon :) .” —Stefanie
  • “You ‘know’ more about relationships once you’ve been on both sides of love.” —Shanice
  • “Knowing more + integrating the good of what you’ve learned = wisdom.” —Camilla
  • “When your little one is sleeping you can do what you want, watch what you want on TV (Bravo is my lame addiction that no straight man would understand), eat what you want, not shave your legs, burp, fart, etc. You decide how to parent- no arguments on religion, diet, schools, daycare, health, etc. YOU will be an excellent role model for your child – I love the idea of a 2-parent household – but it’s not always ideal – you can show your child how one person CAN do it all. Even in great relationships the person can still die – and leave you alone – so proving to your child that you can is amazing. No other person to clean up after.” —Briana
  • “You don’t have to share the closet or the bed.” —Christina
  • “Get a good group of friends you can count on to make you laugh and help you unwind. I recently downloaded a friendship app to make friends in my area.” —Leighann

Being a single mom: How to be a strong single mom

  • “I became a single mom when my oldest was 17 months and I was 5 months preggo with my second. There are struggles, to be sure, but there are so many positives too! I make the decisions and that means I get to take 100% credit for how wonderful my boys are. Proud mom here! Also, learning how to juggle, strategize, multi-task, and problem-solve makes me super confident and has extended into my work / career as well.” —Tia
  • “Travel is so much easier! Sure it’s a lot to juggle, but everyone goes out of their way to help you when traveling. Also, the two of you can conquer anything, that’s very empowering.” —Alex

7 tips for taking a road trip with little kids as a single mom

  • “No matter what, you are always stronger than you think you are. You will be amazed at what you can do.” —Nicole
  • “If you move to a town where you thought your dreams would come true… and they don’t… you can pick up and try somewhere else!! There are so many positive things about being a single momma! I simply enjoy the small things, the times we share just her and I… each night after dinner when we cuddle on the couch together and talk about life… or the giggles when we’re sleepy right before she falls asleep… The bond we have is so strong, it is truly like no other. And to watch her grow and thrive! She is so full of love, so happy. My heart overflows with love watching her!” —Alma
  • “I am more confident than ever before. I now know that I can accomplish anything. I can fix a leaky sink, change a car tire, but together a bike and run my own business that I never ever thought would be possible. I love that I am showing my girls that they can do anything with confidence and grace. You will be amazing and cherish every moment. Even the 3am moments as they will just be a blip in time.” —Cassie

9 ways to feel confident when you feel old, gross and fat

  • “One of my married best friends said she was jealous that when I had to breastfeed in the middle of the night I could turn on the lights and watch Netflix while she would carry the baby down the hallway and feed her in the dark and quiet so she wouldn’t wake her husband up. A little thing but a perk! I also think as a single mom my friends and family really rally to make a community for my son when friends or family may not become as involved as much with married parents to avoid intruding or stepping on toes. I also think being a single mom gives me the incentive to make plans and do lots of activities with other people whereas my 4 married siblings seem to stay home with the kids and spouse. I feel like it has made my son really outgoing and open to new experiences and people.” —Sandra

Being a single mom: How to make it as a single mom

  • “You and others will be awe-struck by your strength and perseverance.
  • “I wish I had known about all of this when I found out I was pregnant 13 years ago. I was so scared! No one had much positive to say to support me at all. Listen to the advice of these ladies! It may seem overwhelming, but you seriously can do this! You will have such a special bond with your child, that no one else will have or can replace! You get to what you want, how you want, when you want! You get to make the best choices for your child!!! All you need is some family and great girl friends to stand beside you, and you have all that you need!!!”

Top highly-paid careers that are great for moms!

7 ways single moms can get their financial act together this year and beyond!

Being a single mom: Spending time alone as a single mom

Ultimately, you are now a single mom for as long as you choose — why not lean into it, embrace this new life for all that it is, and then assess your next move?

I was recently speaking with a recently-separated friend. She had been with her husband for more than 15 years, and the prospect of spending so much alone time was daunting. Taking care of the car, the yard and the taxes were new to her. She craved a vacation, but the thought of traveling alone scared the shit out of her.

All of that perfectly normal.

Especially in a world that promotes coupledom as the highest goal, and constant-companionship of a romantic partner / family / friends / pets / happy hour acquaintances as an inferior, but acceptable substitute.

Meanwhile, as the economy, social norms, and gender equality progress, we collectively chose more solitary lives. To wit:

41 things every woman should do alone before she dies

This is a list I co-created with the wonderful members of our closed Facebook group Millionaire Single Moms:

  1. Travel
  2. International travel
  3. “Travel somewhere where you don’t speak the language,” says Cheryl.
  4. Roadtrip (if you ever want to roadtrip with your kids, read my 7 tips for roadtrips from my many long trips with Helena and Lucas)
  5. Hike
  6. Camp
  7. Stay solo in a hotel
  8. Go to the beach
  9. Buy a home
  10. Buy a car
  11. Negotiate a car or home
  12. Orgasm. Says Cheryl: “Learn how your body works and what makes you have awesome fulfilling orgasms!” Related: Why dating is better as a single mom
  13. Go to a sex-toy shop.
  14. Open and own and fund a savings account — in your name alone.
  15. Open and fund an investment account
  16. File your taxes (or work with a tax professional). Courtney says: “I’m currently irritated in the process of learning this, and wish I had done it sooner.”
  17. Write a will / estate plan
  18. Buy life insurance
  19. Live alone in your own home. Not being alone a lot because your partner works a lot / travels extensively / is deployed. No – sign your own lease, put all bills in your own name, buy your own furniture. Lola shared: “My mom always said the one she regretted was never living alone. She went from her parents house to married life then kids. Living alone before I had kids was the best time I’ve ever had 😊.”
  20. Fix a major appliance
  21. Decorate your home, just as you like it.
  22. Enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant. Says Kelsi: “For some reason, that was a big one for me. But now I love taking myself on movie and dinner dates. I have no problem being alone now but it took some work to get there.”
  23. Go to a movie
  24. Attend the theater
  25. Go to a sporting event or a concert
  26. “Start a fire (campfire or in your fireplace),” Jennifer says.
  27. Go to a bar or club alone. “I was so intimidated but it was such an empowering feeling to be able to do it confidently!” says Jasmine.
  28. “Go dancing (salsa, swing, ballroom, whatever sounds fun to you). People go solo and it’s no big deal, you get to have fun and meet great people!” — Selena
  29. Intentionally carve out an evening to stay home alone and binge Netflix / Hulu / Amazon Prime, and savor every minute.
  30. Go on a date with yourself, says Rebecca
  31. “Buy a china pattern and use it!” — Kat
  32. Work a power tool (and yes, that kind, too)
  33. Change a tire
  34. Home improvement projects
  35. Mow a lawn. Says Gina of the three above: “Not because any of these are fun but so you CAN!”
  36. Spend a major holiday solo. Says Cameron: New Year’s Eve! I spent it alone last year, and it was the most wonderful, introspective and empowering experience to be alone on NYE and totally okay with it!”
  37. Throw a dinner party. Just because! My roundup of grocery delivery and meal-planning services.
  38. Basic car repairs and maintenance. Says Danyle: “Know how to check your oil/put more in if needed, check tire pressure, and know other basic things about cars so you’re not taken advantage of — and then make a man feel like an idiot when they tell you your cars needs some ridiculous thing and you can set them straight…feels so good!”
  39. “Take out the trash cans to the street,” Cynthia says. “I use to hate doing this. But now i feel so strong doing it without a man. Such a simple thing but so powerful for me.”
  40. Spend several days alone — not visiting or speaking with anyone else.
  41. “Be wild, be powerful, be rich!” — Angelika

And, final words from Christie (who learned to ride a street motorcycle by herself):

“Identify one on this list that sounds a little scary and hard, and then chip away at it until you’ve conquered it. That is a goal anyone can achieve!”

Single mom resources

My experience traveling alone internationally as a single mom

Posted August 3, 2015

I am in Denmark for the next three weeks, staying in an apartment I swapped for my own in New York, working, exploring, and generally hanging out.

Thursday, I drove my kids and ex to JFK, where they flew to Crete to visit family there. I don’t usually miss my kids so much when we’re apart — after all, part of being a divorced family is that you are apart from your kids, and everyone gets used to it. This time we were all so sad about saying goodbye. The worst was seeing little Lucas, 5, who’d all day been saying, “I’m not going to Greece. I’m going to Copenhagen with you,” standing on the curb where I’d just hugged and kissed him and his sister a zillion times, calling after me: “Bye mom!” and fighting back tears with his little, tight, downturned mouth that was trying so hard not to cry.

The following afternoon I found myself on a plane, catching up on all the great TV that I never watch (Veep, Silicon Valley) and chatted for a few hours with the young Danish woman sitting next to me. She was returning from a visit with her boyfriend who is studying in Los Angeles, so of course we talked about dating and men most of the time. She is 32, uncertain about her relationship, but wanting a family. “Do you ever regret having children now that you’re divorced?” she asked.

“Oh my god no!” I said. “You cannot imagine how much you will love your kids. It will blow your mind!” I reached over and grabbed her hand. I got serious. “If you want babies, have babies.”

Telling this stranger about my children, and my plans to spend the better part of a month alone in a place where I don’t have any friends felt sad. When I was in my 20s I traveled all over the world by myself. It was lonely sometimes, but mostly a great, fun adventure. Things felt different now. Now I have a full life. Then, there was a hostel or Irish pub in every city where other young travelers like myself met. Now, I don’t know where to go. Now, I miss my kids, an I am particular about how my coffee ought to be in the morning. Now, I feel the urgent tug of work, owing to my uncharacteristically empty days. Now, I am a middle-aged mom. Where does a middle-aged mom find some delicious trouble?

I admit that I hadn’t done much research about my destination, or made many plans — sightseeing or otherwise — aside from some big work projects I plan to tackle. When we landed at 6:30 a.m. local time, I felt a little nervous about navigating this foreign country without a word of its language. Even if the Danes speak very good English, I find it rude not to make an earnest effort to speak the local language, and I hadn’t learned a word. Not to mention that not knowing the country’s tongue puts you at a great risk for making an ass of yourself. So when, following my host’s public transit instructions, and I missed the bus stop, I ate my slice of humble pie and asked the driver to set me straight, and after crossing the street and catching my next lift, arrived at the big, old apartment complex in Vesterbro, an artist-turned-yuppie neighborhood, not unlike New York’s Williamsburg.

Per my host’s instructions, I buzzed the neighbor, a filmmaker of about 50, who was very sweet as she showed me around the light- and art-filled apartment with a small and highly designed kitchen outfitted with excellent pots and spices. My host had left me Danish bread — a dark and heavy, of sprouted grain — blueberries, local yogurt and beer, along with a hand-written welcome note. My new neighbor showed me to what would be my bike, the laundry, and an outdoor common yard outfitted with a sandbox, grills and elaborate recycling system.

We then took off on our bikes to the local supermarket, which was not too unlike an American store, except this one had an “American” display, with Mississippi Belle (wtf?) brand peanut butter, Jiffy marshmallow fluff, McDonald’s brand catsup and mustard (wtf squared!) and Charleston Chews. We laughed and took pictures.

I’d made so many purchases (so American?) they barely fit in the wooden crate affixed to my handlebars, but we made our way home on the bike lanes — separated by an actual curb — that run parallel to most of the city’s roads. My neighbor friend was fun and sweet, laughing along with me as I nearly tipped over on my over-loaded bike. That combined with the graciousness of my host, who I liked so much even if I will likely never meet her, but will live an intimate, intertwined co-existence with her, cooking in her kitchen, and sleeping in her sheets, gave me a sense of generosity of the universe. That reminder that there is no need to feel lonely or alone because there are always kind and sweet people who will give you a little or a lot of love whenever you have the sense to open up your doors to take it in.

Back in my new home, I unpacked, took a long and hot shower and slept for a few hours before making myself a cheese-and-Danish-bread sandwich and tomato-cucumber-and-blueberry salad and hit the town on two wheels.

I will say here that exploring Copenhagen via bike was the single thing that I was most excited about this journey. Bicycle riding is my No. 1 favorite form of transportation, as well as my No. 1 form of exercise. For three hours I explored the main roads, and the cobbled side streets and the post-card favorite Nyhaven, where old, colorful homes (now mostly touristy restaurants and gift shops) line the canal. I cruised along the inlets and around the harbor and circled through the parks.

Along the way I’d passed a cool theater, the Grand, and noticed the Amy Winehouse biopic was playing, so after my American thighs started to feel the burn, I headed back to the movie house, bought a small, brown sack of cherries from a street vendor and purchased what turned out to be an assigned movie seat. Sure, the movie was sad, but mostly it made me happy. Because she was such a very real, pure and original talent. And she owned that talent, shared her art with us, and we still have it. Just because her life was shorter than average doesn’t mean it was shorter than it should have been. By the time I left, it was close to 9 p.m., and I found my bike and headed the 2 miles back to my apartment, chilly in the evening, as this Nordic city is cooler than any clothes I packed for.

Copenhagen is small — fewer than 600,000 people — and spread out, with neighborhoods separated by ponds and parks. Even though it was Saturday night, none of the streets were crowded, and in many ways it feels like a large town, rather than a capitol city.

In my apartment, I found a wok and a cast iron skillet and cooked myself some local fish, oily and tasty, and sautéed the bok choy, and drank the large Pilsner from the bottle while sitting at the long dining table in the large living room, feeling quite content and tired.

I slept long and hard, and woke up to look from the bedroom door to the large living room windows streaming northern light onto the  worn pine floors and Danish chair. It was all plain and gorgeous, and taking it in made me swell with gratitude.

I put on my robe and made myself two large cups of espresso with hot milk and lots of sugar, one after the other, using two of the many coffee-making methods available to me in this one-person home (a capsule Nespresso machine, and then a stovetop espresso maker, which fits on the gas burners with a special wire rack), and wrapped up a client project I’d been procrastinating on.

I then put on my running clothes and jogged through the campus of Carlsberg brewery and its famous elephant gate towards Søndermarken-Frederiksberg Park, when I happened upon a flea market that looks like any flea market you would find in New York City, except the prices are what flea market prices ought to be, and not 80 percent of the original retail price.

Now, I was still in my black capris leggings and sports tank top, neon Brooks sneakers, good and sweaty. In the United States, wearing your Lululemon getup to run errands in the middle of a week day is a status symbol — one that suggests, “I am coming from/going to pilates in the middle of the day because I don’t work thanks to my ability to snag a rich husband.”

But this isn’t the United States. This is Europe, where women get themselves together before they leave the house and interact with other humans, including flea market vendors. So when I spotted a smart light-weight, bat-winged jacket in my favorite shade of dusty blue, priced at $8US, I had to jump on it, even if I was the sweaty American who spoke no Danish. These Danes, they are cool customers. The two blonde young women happily folded up my purchase and sent me on my way with polite nods.

I wandered to the next vendor and decided on a pretty black silk oversized blouse and mauve and orange silk batik shirt-dress, and the pretty middle-aged vendor quoted me 110 crowns, and — being the American that I am — I offered 100. She smiled in a way that only European women can. In the way that says, “In your country I am old and irrelevant. But I have perfect cheek bones and wear hardly any makeup on my smooth, smooth skin, and even if there are lines around my eyes and my lips are thinning, I dress wonderfully and am naturally elegant and just so very really beautiful because I’m European.” I paid 110 crowns, smiled in thanks, and walked home.

There I cooked myself some very good pasta and cheese sauce with some brie I’d bought the day before, and regretted not buying any wine, even if it wouldn’t have fit in my bike basket. I sat down and started writing this post, but then started to feel very isolated and like I am wasting my time by not meeting locals, so I reached out to some friends-of-friends contacts and set up a drink meeting with one, and then researched local leading women in tech, one of whom responded immediately to my Tweet, and she is meeting me for lunch this week.

Because there is no need to feel lonely or alone. Indeed, there are always kind and sweet people who will give you a little or a lot of love whenever you have the sense to open up your doors to take it in.

Another experience with a solo vacation as a single mom

As I’ve mentioned, my kids are in Europe with their dad for more than two weeks. Everyone kept asking what special things I was going to do with all my free time. I had a long list of friends I hoped to see, work and home projects that had gone unattended to, and for the most part I can say I didn’t make a dent in any of that.

But I did fixate on getting away for a few days. Recently I’ve fantasized about a writer’s weekend. I envisioned myself in a cabin in the woods where I could escape city noise and filth and lavish in the gruesome loneliness that creative people know fuels great art.

But then that fantasy started to feel like garden-variety loneliness. After all, I spend much of my life writing, alone, and feeling lonely. Doing the same in a prettier location is no vacation!

Enter my recent lover. We started planning a weekend at an inn upstate New York. At the last minute he sprung a fever and took to hibernation, and I considered canceling the getaway all together. But I just could not squander the precious kid-free time away. So at 4 p.m. Friday I booked an AirBnB property – a funky cabin in the woods upstate New York – tossed my hiking boots, swim suit and a going-out dress (you never know) in my overnight bag. Grabbed some croissants at my corner bakery and fruit at the weird Pakistani bodega that sells more or less nothing you would ever need but has fantastic melons and avocados — and I was outta there. 

Less than two hours later I pulled up to the cabin, secluded from the road and just big enough for one or two people — and it was all mine for the weekend. I was greeted by my friendly host who invited me to join him for dinner — pasta made with swiss chard pesto from his garden. As we drank cold beer and chatted about work (he’s an exhibit designer), and romance (he just wrapped up a two-year affair with a local college boy whose name he does not know) I was brought back to my own many solo travel adventures in my teens and early 20s — the way people and experiences magically unfold when you are on the road.

The next morning I woke up in the windowed sleeping loft surrounded by the vision and smell of green. Took my time enjoying black coffee and figs on a chaise lounge the stone patio (close your eyes and imagine me as Cleopatra – I did) when a flock of eight or nine wild turkeys emerged from the property’s many raspberry bushes.

I then jumped in the car and headed to a forest preserve a few miles away. Thrilling in an outing unencumbered by kids and the many accruements they require, I all but leapt out of the car with nothing more than my keys, a tampon and a $20 in my pocket.

The preserve was perfect and empty of any other people. Golden late summer sun shone through the giant trees. A quiet lake where I sat and sat — silver fish intermittently leaping out, here, there (did they sense me?). It felt so good to move my body, climb up mossy hills and over logs, fill my lungs with clean air. It was delightful to be totally, completely alone.

“I’m completely alone,” I thought. “Wait, I’m completely alone.” An edge set in. I wasn’t sticking to the marked trails. I had no food or water. I’d left the map in the car. Bears can smell your period, right? I started to think about The Blair Witch Project.

Needless to say I found my way back – and in a way, back into my old self.

This weekend — like those years ago, backpacking around South America and Europe, jetting off for last-minute weekends to see friends — the experience was just being. Just being in the quiet. Just falling asleep looking at the stars through the skylight. Just napping without guilt or a wakeup time. Just sitting in the cool mountain sun and being so grateful that there is time and place and money to luxuriate in the opportunity to recalibrate.

I thought about how in the past bunch of months I have felt a disconnect from my kids. There are parenting tasks I do not enjoy — I do not enjoy playing make believe (hello — I’m a journalist. Real life is really interesting, kids!). I do not enjoy hanging out at the playground or engaging in a game of tag. No. But I do enjoy travel. And exploring, and meeting people and talking and learning about the world. And that is what I plan to do more of with my family — without guilt for my disinterest in the other stuff.

And so, in my ongoing gratitude exercise I am grateful for this time away. Time away all by myself. Because being alone doesn’t always have to feel lonely. In fact, it can give you the perspective you need to connect with people in your life in new ways.

Frequently asked questions about being a single mom

If you are new to being a single mom — or thinking about becoming one — you have questions. We have answers!

Is being a single parent difficult? Is it hard being a single mom? 

It can be difficult being a single mom, but not taking smart financial steps is going to make it a thousand times worse. Money affects your mental health, the stress level in your house, your access to health care, and your ability to make wise decisions about career / men / family / time. If you feel really broke all the time, you make those decisions from a place of fear and a poverty mindset. If your bills are paid, your career is growing, you have a little extra money in the bank, your vision for your future includes security, financial wealth, your decisions are more likely to come from a place of abundance and confidence.

The good news is that, thanks to technology and troves of information from experts (like moi) it is easier than ever to get your financial act on track, and gain the confidence you need to build the foundation of an incredible, full life for yourself and your family.

7 lies single moms tell themselves that keep them broke, overwhelmed and alone

Are all moms stressed out?

Are all moms stressed out? Yeah, pretty much. Washington University researchers found that women across the world found balancing child care with paid work to be stressful — and in the United States, that issue was especially pronounced, as we have the least amount of social support for working parents among developed countries.

Many studies find that single moms are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, isolation and suicide.

In other words: Everyone is stressed out, and you are not a bad mom for being burned out, anxious and angry.

Are all single moms broke?

The majority of single moms are poor and with low education.

A 2018 Pew Research Center analysis found the poverty rate by household head was:

  • 30% of solo mothers
  • 17% of solo fathers
  • 16% of families headed by a cohabiting couples
  • 8% of married couple families

Single motherhood is correlated with lower education and younger age, according to Johns Hopkins:

  • 71% of millennial moms with a four-year college degree were married, and typically were in their 20s when they first gave birth.
  • 74% of millennial moms without a bachelor’s degree were unmarried, and typically had children younger.

Also, the pay gap for single moms is greater than mothers overall, which is larger than for women overall.

Mothers overall suffer a pay gap of 29%, earning an average of 71 cents for every $1 earned by a dad — or an average of $16,000 less per year, according to the National Women’s Law Center. 

This motherhood penalty is dramatically worse for single mothers at 35%. According to Pew Research, single moms with a household of three earn just $26,000 per year on average, compared with $40,000 per year for single dads.

More single mom statistics.

These stories tell an important story, which is also about race, class, education, generational poverty and other issues.

It is also about stereotypes that are outdated.

What do single moms struggle with?

Are all moms stressed out? Yeah, pretty much. Washington University researchers found that women across the world found balancing child care with paid work to be stressful — and in the United States, that issue was especially pronounced, as we have the least amount of social support for working parents among developed countries.

Many studies find that single moms are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, isolation and suicide.

In other words: Everyone is stressed out, and you are not a bad mom for being burned out, anxious and angry.

It is also about stereotypes that are outdated.

More advice and inspirational quotes about being a single mom (from single mothers)

  • “I never have to explain or justify my parenting decisions. I get to show the kids what I think love is without it being tempered by someone else.” —Amanda
  • “You get to create your own special traditions that are YOURS and yours alone with your child. You will come to find that you are surrounded by so much love and support, more than you ever thought was possible. It takes a village to raise a child and you will find your village. When you do, your heart will be so full and your child will be loved and cared for by so many. As your child gets older they will articulate their love for you and something in you will feel like bursting…with pride, inexplicable happiness, love…or as my 5 year old said to me, “Mama, I love you more than I can feel.” That right there makes all the challenging days worth it. The bond you will create with your child and have created while they have been in the womb will be one that no one can ever replicate. It is beyond special and your child feels it…each and every day!” Jenn

Single mom holiday manifesto

  • “People tell me all the time what a great little girl she is and guess what?! Here’s the best part of parenting alone……I did that. No one but me gets the credit for raising a kickass little person.” — Jessica
  • “When you aren’t distracted by a relationship, it is SO much easier to understand what you need to do and devise a plan to do it. I found being single to be extremely motivating, and that I could realize my goals so much more easily. Logistics can still be hard, but when a relationship isn’t healthy, or is just distracting, it can be even harder. Also, I found that in a relationship, because of the patriarchal society we live in, I could feel a palpable pressure to be more focused on my boyfriend’s success, and that it was more important than my own. No more of that now!” —Monique
  • “You can live…. Bloom and grow any way that you want to. There’s freedom, beauty, bravery, strength and grace.” —Kim
  • “The wonderful bond you & your child will have!!!! My relationship with my daughter is AWESOME & we are extremely close. & I know single parenting is to blame.'” —Tina
  • “You get to see just how strong and smart you were all along! You will appreciate the good stuff more and forget about the distractions. You will find many people who will love and look out for you :)” —Jennifer
  • “I love that I don’t have to share her! I’m already so proud of my little nugget. She has a great personality, and I’m so excited for what comes next! I can’t wait to see what kind of person she becomes. I’m happy too that single motherhood I think has given me the kick in the butt I needed to really go for it. It’s not just my life that my laziness affects now. I want to stand on my own two feet, and provide an awesome life for her!” —LaTonya
  • “You get to see how your family and friends will rally around to support you and your little one!” —Stacy

Single mom inspirational stories

Laura Vanderkam's book, Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, might just change your life. It changed mine.

Upon hearing about this theory, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, “Before breakfast I’m sleeping! Because as a single working mom of two kids who are up and down all night I’m exhausted, you sanctimonious whore!” But I shut it and accepted Laura’s generous offer to give me a time makeover, which she also wrote about on her CBS MoneyWatch blog.

For one week I logged every hour of my day in an Excel spreadsheet. One thing I felt good about: My days were indeed full. From the time I woke until the kids went down were chockablock with work, exercise and the personal tasks I simply cannot do without childcare. But the evenings were often squandered as I either dithered it away on the Internet or as I lay motionless on my bed in an exhaustion coma.

In my email to Laura I laid out a few goals: Spend 20 minutes of one-on-one time with each kid each day, find a chunk of alone time regularly, tackle the marketing and strategic planning that a business requires and get a grip on all the little household projects that pile up. Oh, and remove the sense of chaos from my life.

In our phone consultation, Laura started out with some heavy petting: “First, congratulations,” she said. “Your schedule is amazing. You have a lot of professional success in not a lot of work hours [the kids are in daycare between 30 and 35 hours each week], and you’re spending a lot of time with the kids as well.” Okay, I thought, keep talking.

After 30 minutes I got some great suggestions. But the general takeaway was to have more fun and meaning in life. Happy people are more engaged and better doing whatever it is that they do. Also, I remember how long it took me to sign on to Laura’s other time-saving edicts, so while I clearly have a long way to go, I am hopeful.

How to find supportive, successful single-mom friends

Read blogs about single moms

Of course there are plenty of other single mom blogs. Here are some of our favorites:

Kate Anthony.com. Kate is a divorce coach, single mom, podcaster and really smart woman. Her takes on single mom parenting, co-parenting, moving on from your relationship and more is smart, thoughtful, empowering and for our modern times. 

@themichelledempsey Divorce coach and author Michelle Dempsy’s IG is a popular place to get your divorce and single mom inspiration and laughs.

Are you part of our Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms? No income requirement, though BIG GOALS and a POSITIVE MINDSET required! Join now!

Who deserves to call themselves a “single mom”?

What are the benefits of being a single mom?

You can do what you want as a single mom, especially if you are a solo parent, you don’t have to negotiation about much at all.

Is being a single parent difficult?

It can be difficult being a single parent, but not taking smart financial steps is going to make it a thousand times worse. Money affects your mental health, the stress level in your house, your access to health care, and your ability to make wise decisions.

Is it hard being a single mom?

t can be hard being a single mom, but not taking smart financial steps is going to make it a thousand times worse.

Are all single moms broke?

The majority of single moms are poor and with low education. Single motherhood is correlated with lower education and younger age, according to Johns Hopkins.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.


What is a single mother doing running around having sex? How is that beneficial to her or her children?

Almost midnight… I am a single mother of two, by choice. To add insult to the injury, I even paid for sperm donation.
I’m not rich. My kids have all they need, but I’m certainly not the kind that drives expensive cars.
I wouldn’t be so sure about being able to date as you wish. I did have the best sex while being a single mom, but this is not something you get every day. Every day, you get diapers.
I agree about people confiding in me. I am seen as a menace (how can women survive without men?!), with envy (she gets to be free and I don’t), and as a hero (she did it!). The combination is not at all successful, as I get a lot of backlash especially from the first two categories.
On the other hand, I must admit, every time I see people divorce, and the filth that comes with the child custody battles, I congratulate myself for having had the brains to stay alone.
When we go on holidays, and we cross the border, I don’t have to show any papers to justify I’m not stealing the kids. I can see sometimes the hatred on the customs officers’ faces, when they realize I don’t obey anyone, and I don’t need anyone’s approval to travel (it’s Western Europe I’m talking about, not an Islamic country).
On a global note, I don’t think there were many times I felt sorry for my choice, but there certainly were many times when I felt happy with my choice.
As time goes by, and I see the misery of others, I start realizing how many things I have, that they don’t, and never will.
Evenings are not adult time. Evenings are for the children. We watch cartoons.
Free time is to talk about school, about my eldest son’s girl friend, about the activities we’ll plan for the weekend. This debate is between me and the children, not between me and another adult, and then the kids would better follow. And when they go to sleep, I’m done and I can go to sleep, too.
We play at the playgrounds. We do “pencil battles”. We’re not on the clock when doing this, and there’s no one stomping behind me to put the kids to sleep faster, so we can “do our stuff”.
I don’t have to find places to drop them so I can have ‘adult time’.
To sum it up, I get my time and time with them, and that’s it. There’s so much more time to do things, when you divide time only between two sets of interests, rather than three.
Some argue, on one hand you win time, on the other you lose time, because you don’t have someone to share chores with. While this is valid for functional relationships, such relationships are a minority, not a majority- in spite of appearances. And at a totally cynical level, it’s cheaper to get someone to clean the house once a week, than to waste hours everyday trying to make work something that is fundamentally dysfunctional.
There’s also the argument, if you couldn’t get prince charming, it’s because you’re not a good woman. Doesn’t hold really, the issue is a lot deeper, what we want at 20, we might not want at 40, and, statistically, the chance that 2 people change the exact same way, is very slim. In fact, there’s a lower divorce rate within categories where people don’t change.
Finally, there’s one more thing I feel worthy of mentioning, there’s a huge difference between being alone, and becoming alone. For me, there is no loss, and no trauma. This is how I am, this is how we live. My kids are old enough to see they have everything kids with two parents have, maybe even more for them, as they don’t share the mother with another adult. It’s not the same when you become alone. My neighbor just moved in, she’s divorcing. She’s all about loss. About what she had and doesn’t have anymore. About how to cover for the loss the children feel. This is a lot harder than starting out single, and the worst part in this cases is that women transition from the financial security of a marriage to having to pull their own weight. When you do this (pull your weight) all your life, it’s nothing special. When you start doing it at 40 or 50, it’s a lot more difficult.

Only those who experience being single moms can relate …. love this ! And to all the haters out there ….get a life bc mothers/moms can do it all these days !!

Yes! I do it all, and I don’t feel stressed or overwhelmed! In contrast, I think I WOULD feel overwhelmed if I had to cater to a man’s needs on top of my childrens’ needs.

Well i have to say as a single mummy to 4 amazing children i found this post god awful to read and very disgraced if anyone has this reality as a single mum i mean come off it you get to do what u want when u want??? Really i cant take a shit in peace……you get to decide their name school etc…..so no father involved then?? Shamefull….my children love and respect their father and he has parental rights so has been and will be involved in all of these aspects…..you get to have awesome sex with whoever whenever??? Clearly im missing out NOT have some god damn reapect for yourself!! As a single parent of 4 amazing kids my kids come first i made that choice i chose to have my children and i will raise them to be the best they can be……when u have children its no longer about u!!!! Its about them i found this post to be very selfish all i saw was me, i, my….. i will never be this self centered parent…… real life of a single mummy….up at 6am get the kids organised get breakfast, their teeth brushed faces washed nappies changed for the baby…. get to school on time….home do washing, make beds do chores….get dinner preped… i run an at home cake business so may have to make a cake to pay some bills…. grocery shopping…..pick tribe up from school take them to gymnastics, cadettes… home get dinner…..homework….playtime….baths…. let them watch some tv until dishes are done….bedtime story then sleep at 8pm… this is where u run about like a lunitic…. have a coffee….run a bath….hoover…..pack school bags…organise clothes…..make sure shoes are polished….lunches done and in fridge….go in a bath and get to bed to get up and do it all again tomorrow…… when my children are away i catch up on ironing….make meals wash all their bedding so they come home to nice clean sheets….more grocery shopping…..might watch a movie but always fall asleep 10 minutes after it starts…..prepare to feel overwhelmed at times….prepare to feel tired and prepare to feel like your failing sometimes but ur not!! As for dating……not a chance i dont have time for it right now and i am happily content with that as i have my children and they need me more than i need a man……the real account of single motherhood from a more realistic point of view!!!!

wow thanks a lot for taking any good or positive points out of being a single parent. I read a lot more here than being able to sleep with whoever you want!! Why didn’t you just tell everyone to go slit their wrists you damn negative nancy!!!!!

Sometimes the father doesnt want to be involve in the parenting. why she says pick up the school and those stuff. This is her and the baby. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a good relationship and kids respect their father and love him. Not everyone is that lucky and have to deal with motherhood completely alone

You’re this busy, and you’re polishing shoes??

I grew up with both parents, and my father was the best dad ever. Unfortunately, my ex husband didn’t step up to that role, and the thing is that for us, as women, gone are the “some day my prince will come” times when we have to wait for that prince to marry us in order for us to have children… and then finding out he’s really the devil in prince’s clothing. Some of us wait too long for that prince, and then can’t get pregnant because our eggs are too old! Carpe Diem, ladies! If you’re lucky enough to find that prince who adds great things to your life, then that’s a wonderful thing. But don’t hold out for him – they don’t make men like they used to.

You missed the point of this article, Grinch. It was about looking for the positives in a situation that could be so difficult and stressful! It was about women lifting up other women when it’s most needed.

I get married at 18, right after my first daughter was born. She was so beautiful and sweet, she certainly did my days happier.
As a teen, she became a smart, independent and brave little woman, until her dad started to belittle her. He’d call her fat and laugh at every single dream she had, saying she’d never be able to do that.
It broke my heart every single time I saw the pain in her eyes, because she idolized her father so much.
At the age of 14, my little princess, Casey, ran away. Took months to find her, and when we managed to get her back, she decided to move to her grandparents’ house, because she called our house “toxic”. After that, she stopped talking to us and we rarely saw her.
I got divorced and never will forgive him for pushing me away from my daughter.
I remarried and had five beautiful babies: four boys and a girl. We got divorced and I became a single mom. Best choice ever.
The dad is still around but I’m mainly in charge, and it’s great. My kids are so happy and I wish I could have gave my daughter that opportunity.
My girl is now a mom of her own and we are trying to fix our relationship, but it’s not easy.
Anyway, what I mean is: SINGLE MOTHERHOOD ROCKS!!
You can raise your kids how you want to, have sex with whoever you want to (bye, “is he the one?” pressure) and being able to leave your kids with daddy when you want to have a break.
Love your blog Emma, it helped me so many times with my kids in the last couple years. Stay awesome!

I laughed and cried at this, I can relate to it all. I remember feeling terrified two and a half years ago the night before I gave birth. This post would have been perfect in that moment. Taking on single parenthood – albeit finding yourself thrown unexpectedly in the deep end – truly is the most rewarding personal journey you can ever venture on. The challenges make the successes that much more sweet.

That may be true, but the statistical effects on Society are plain as day: households with 2 parents do better across the board. And there are those politically motivated to accelerate the destruction of the family.

Your statistical information is incorrect. Children are best raised in a loving supportive environment. Trauma shrinks children’s brains and one of the biggest issues in families is Domestic Violence. Nearly one in two relationships at a point in time. You also no one person can complete another. I love all the positive quotes and feedback. People should be valued on who they are and their values not on their titles. Single Mums rock.

You missed the point jenifer, but for sure this paragraph…”There were a lot of tears and a lot self-doubt…but I have to say, once I let go of the life I thought I SHOULD have, I was able to start to fall in love with the one I never imagined.” Nobody said that being a single mom is “cool”, this is an article about support , love and finding beauty in being a single Mom. You are a sad girl jenifer.

Thank you so much for this article it helped decrease my fear and increase my strength and excitement for me and my 8 month old nugget

I genuinly hope this trend of young children being left for whatever the reason to be raised by only one parent ceases, our culture here in states has never seen so much hardship for children are basically not as happy and eventually will seek and want the other parent and also experience deep insecurities about themselves simply because the other parent was not in their lives, kids feel something is wrong and automatically feel it is their fault the other parent is not around and in their lives.
TO THE author of this article my dear friend and fellow mother, you should truly desire for your child to get to have the other parent in their lives as no matter how imperfect they may be, their presence will add tremendeous stability and confidence in your child and your little nugget would feel complete knowing there is that very important connection in their lives, never berate the importance of two parents…. or life will never have been rigged that way … Visnja

It depends on the circumstances. I disagree with your comments. You can always show good examples of good marriages to show how parents should relate to one another. If one parents commits a crime against their own child will you place your child in trauma?

Um, the blog is called “WEALTHY Single Mommy.” Some of us are fortunate enough to be wealthy without being reliant upon a man’s income, and it’s so empowering and so freeing. I love being a single mom. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Really, well I know lots of Single Mothers who are really wealthy. I guess it depends on whether they choose to create the life they dream of or choose to be victims. There are many people like that, not just single Mums.

This article is SAD at very best, trying to make the single parenting into this beautiful thing which naturally is not. This mother if she really thinks as genuine parent will not say or think ” I am so happy not to share my nugget with the other parent “. So many reasons to explain why other parent is not needed, if that is the case we all will be raised ideally with only mom and dad and be without other parent our most formative and most important time of our lives. How could you glorify single parenting, it is not true!!
Ideally we know truth is kids do best with both biological parents, definitely, without fail. Kids need both mom and dad. They DO. This is the fact. Lets simply acknowledge this. If we end up without the other spouse for whatever reason and alone in raising our child we certainly do our best we certainly try to compensate for those things the other parent would do.

Shame on you to judge. No one is glorifying single parenting, and in most cases it is not the desired plan, but it happens. A toxic relationship between parents in front of children is far more damaging- I think many can concur given the low rates of divorce in the past! Single motherhood is filled with tons of work, guilt, struggles- but with the right support system and attitude, it can be liberating and positives for the mother and for the children. A happy parent makes for happy children. I agree- how the parents handle the separation and communication to child is vital for the child well being- and it would be encouraged (if possible) for both parents to take a co-parenting class or even counseling. However, for your comment, it was hurtful to me and I’m sure many women, but I wont give it another thought after this and Ill tell you why. Getting out of my marriage was both the toughest and best decision I have ever made in my life for BOTH me and my kids. I’m proud that they will see a happier me and their dad, see the strength in both of us, and not be exposed to dysfunctional relationship/family life just for the sake of having two parents @ home and to satisfy society and people like you! Shame, shame, shame

No one said single parenting is beautiful or good for he kids involved. Of course is best for kids to grow with both parent figures. If your marriage is happy and harmonious. But when you have no other choice because your husband doesn’t work for 6 years, no plans to look for a job, only watches porn and football all day when he around, rejects you sexually for years, rejects you emotionally , gets angry at you without you knowing the reason, stops talking to you and give you the cold shoulder for more than 10 days, disappears for up to 3 months and lives you alone with the baby when you have to overcome an operation at that time, at the last moment he dicides to take the flight for our vacations and the only way you got pregnant was via IVF because he does touch you. What kind of example your kid is getting? To live in a disfuctional marriage? Is that better that being a single mother? I found this article empowering, because when you are already in a huge dark hole and want to get out of it because you have lost all yourselve esteem, your dignity, your will and hope. What one neess is the positive things from other single mothers and what they say. I personally think this article has inspired me to get out of my dark hole. Where I have to pay everything, take care of my baby all by myself, where I am neglected and emotionally abused. While my husband watches porn and football all day long or simply is not there. I just wanted to hear it is possible to be happy as a single mom. I prefer to be a happy single mother than a miserable wife that has to do everything, work and pay everything while my husband is in complete denial. Thank you for the post .

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