The Single Mom Book List | What every single mom should be reading right now!

Readers are leaders! Whatever your single-mom related questions, issues, joys or challenges are, there is a single mom book for it.

In fact, I wrote a book for you, too! Here is my list of vetted titles of books for single mothers, designed for you in whatever state of your journey in, no particular order. *cough*

Featured: The Kickass Single Mom (DUH!)

This is my baby.

As I write this, The Kickass Single Mom is scheduled to come out soon, and I am so proud of it. It is all about my own experience becoming a single mom, the details about how much pain I went though, how I got back on my feed financially, thrived professionally and in my motherhood, and came to enjoy dating, sex and romance.

It includes lots of incredible stories from other, kickass single moms, research, and tips from incredible moms and experts.

You’re not going to want to miss this one!



Maxed Out

I had a great conversation with Katrina Alcorn, author of the new bestseller Maxed Out: Working Moms on the Brink.

Alcorn, a married mom of three, found herself physically and emotionally incapacitated by trying to do it all: be a mom, wife and fulltime professional. Maxed Out tells her story to recovery through her research which supports what you already know: Corporations and the U.S. government do little to support families, and moms bear the brunt of this.

It’s important work, this book, and it is no wonder Alcorn is getting scads of much-deserved press. But I worry that it is dangerous to pacify the working mom’s stress by blaming policy. Voting and fighting with your employer to adopt flexible work schedules is important — but that is not going to change your life today. Instead, I think we (and when I say ‘we’ – I’m speaking to my professional mom peers) stand to get a grip on our mental health by adjusting our expectations:

  • How much time we really need to spend with our kids to be considered adequate parents?
  • How many meals do we need to cook from scratch?
  • Do you REALLY need to do all that laundry yourself (ANSWER: HELL NO!)?
  • And what are your true career objectives?
  • How much money do you need to be happy?

Can you take the initiative to create the career and family life that you want — and take corporate culture out of the equation entirely (ANSWER: HELL YESSSSSSS!!)?

Check out Maxed Out: Working Moms on the Brink here on Amazon.

Mean Moms Rule

The lovely Denise Schipani interviewed me for her blog, Mean Moms Rule.

We talk mostly about the history of this blog, money and single moms, but since Denise and her new book Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later are all about discipline, she asked my thoughts on the topic from a single-mom perspective:

I want to ask you specifically about things like discipline and order and being in control in your house. What issues along those lines do you face? Do you see them as different now that it’s just you?

When there is one parent, there is one personality and one voice telling the kids to pick up the chunks of banana pancake they threw on the floor. There just isn’t that support. That said, many married moms feel they don’t get discipline support – and I wonder if that silent or contrarian parent might contribute more to unruly behavior when compared with an absent parent, or two parents who support each other in discipline issues, but live in different homes.

So many times married moms complain to me that it’s easier to discipline their kids when their husbands are not involved:  “When he’s here, he just lets the kids run wild – but he doesn’t have to deal with them all day!”  Or the flip side: “My husband is so uptight, the kids feel so nervous when he’s home. I wish he’d lighten up and let them be kids.

It doesn’t really matter what everyone’s position is. The reality is that if the two power sources in the house have strong opposing views on a topic, it breeds shame in the kids. If your daughter is about to gleefully bellyflop from the back of the couch onto the cushions – which you think is hilarious – she also feels ashamed because she knows her dad doesn’t allow it. Likewise, if under his mother’s supervision your son obediently sweeps the floor after dinner, that can also breed bad feelings if his dad is adamant the task is too much work for a kindergartner.

This speaks nothing of the tension that permeates a home when parents can’t agree on discipline – or anything else, for that matter.

Ideally, a house has two parents – plus many more loving, not-crazy relatives and friends – who find ways to work together and support each other on most important issues. But the further away from that idea a family gets, the more realistic that single parenthood becomes.

After all – how many times have moms – married, single, divorced – thought, “Gah! It’s easier if I just do it myself!”?

Money & Business

Smart Money Smart Kids

Personal finance giant Dave Ramsey wasn’t messing around when he raised his three kids. dave ramsey single momThere were chores, “commission” en lieu of allowance, and mandated entrepreneurship. Want a car on your 16th birthday? You earned and saved half (even though, of course, Dave and his wife are loaded). Want to have fun at the amusement park? Budget your money at the gate.

These and other priceless lessons were learned by Rachel Cruze, now a 25-year-old financial expert in her own right and co-author of Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win With Money, which is out this week. I admit that I was expecting a standard-issue, predictable lesson on how to raise financially responsible kids.

But, the pages are full of funny family anecdotes and practical — though ambitious — advice from both Rachel and Cruze. Plus, I found her tons of fun to talk to.

What do YOU want to ask the Ramsey progeny? What is your No. 1 toughest problem when it comes to teaching kids about money?

I interviewed Rachel for RetailMeNot here. She shares about saving for a Tiffany bracelet as a teen and teaching kids to give to charity.

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

The demands on single moms’ time and emotional resources are far greater than many other demographics, and our financial resources – at least initially following a divorce – are far less. Which means we need to be as efficient as possible. I outsource all my laundry. My lovely housekeeper, Sandra, visits every week. And I bask in the flexibility my home-based freelance writing career affords my family.

But what is less evident in this system are the less tangible resources it takes to raise children – and paramount in this diagram is the required emotional support.

vanderkam most successful people before breakfast

Everyone needs emotional buttressing: and as a single mom, I must consciously find ways to get that support in order to fill my own emotional well, a topic I explored on the blog of Laura’s new book is What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career.

Laura Vanderkam, best selling author of the new What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast, is a friend of mine and has changed the way I live my life. I credit (blame?) her with helping me see the light about laundry and shushing many of my guilty thoughts about hiring child care.

Here she lends more advice about how to deal with overwhelm — and people around you complaining about overwhelm.

Stop Saying You’re Fine

A guest on Emma TV, Mel Robbins, the host of reality TV series Monster-In-Laws, author of Stop Saying You’re Fine: The No-BS Guide to Getting What You Want and the founder of Inspire52, a site which curates inspiring content and gives back to the community with each share.

Here Mel and I talk about morning overwhelm — the thorn in every working mom’s side. Why you’re overwhelmed, what you can do about it, and whether it’s unrealistic to having meaningful family time before 8 a.m.

(I say yes, Mel says I’m nuts)

The Economy of You

Economy of You cover

I love it when other people’s passions align with my own.

Kimberly Palmer, a long-time money reporter for U.S. News & World Report, started an Etsy business when her youngest child was born as a way to build in job security and additional income stream on top of her corporate job.

She has written a great book, The Economy of You: Discover You Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life. Here we talk about the importance of self-employment:

  • Job security is gone. A side hustle insulates you from the ups and downs of the economy.
  • There is nothing scarier than having one source of income and worrying it will disappear.
  • The self-employed are free from frustrations of lousy raises. They just give themselves a raise.
  • Self-employment is awesome for parents seeking work-family balance (take it from me).
  • Freelancing and moonlighting are nothing new! Kimberly found the number of people working side jobs has remained steady over the past century.
  • There is far more financial upside when you own your own business, and as companies deconstruct their labor into more contract and freelance work, that means more income for you — not less!

When She Makes More

farnoosh when she makes more

My good friend Farnoosh Torabi’s When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women addresses the very essence of this moment in feminism: We are winning the war on the pay gap, with 24 percent of married women earning more than their spouses and 40 percent of women being financial head of households (accounting for many single moms).

Yay us! Right? Well … not so fast.

When you earn more than your man, you have a 50 percent higher chance of divorce and a greater chance both parties will cheat.

This is a bitter pill to swallow for professional women — and single moms in particular. After all, you already face a significantly higher chance of divorce in the event you remarry.

Farnoosh tackles these facts head-on: The book assumes that a marriage in which a woman earns more is rife with peril, and she offers up advice for navigating the omnipresent landmines.

I think about this dynamic often. As I date and explore the kind of relationship I need in this next phase of life I’ve come to realize that I need to be with a man who is at least as professionally ambitious as I am. That usually translates into financial success, though it really isn’t about the money. My career is a huge part of who I am– I need to be with someone who identifies with my drive to use my gifts and resources to contribute to the world and build a huge and awesome life for myself and my kids.

A part of me also equates a the courage to pursue professional dreams with the courage to love deeply. If a guy can’t stomach risk in business, can he have the bandwidth to take the ultimate risk — heartbreak?

In the video below my friend Farnoosh, also the host of “Financially Fit” on Yahoo! Finance, and I have a candid discussion about why it is so hard for both men and women when she is the breadwinner. We pick apart her admonishment that one of the main ingredients in making such a a partnership work is for the woman to stroke the hell out of her lesser-earning man’s ego (isn’t that patronizing/embarrassing/even more work?).

But I wonder: What is your experience with this dynamic? Do you seek out men who earn more than you? If you earn more than he does, how do you make it work?

Share in the comments! 

Sex, Romance & Relationships

Pussy: A Reclamation

pussy a reclamationIf you listen to my podcast, you’ll already know I’m a huge fan of my friend’s book, Pussy: A Reclamation.

Mama Gena lays it all there for us, ladies. From helping your daughters to nurture their own femininity and sensuality, to what the word “pussy” (really) means to us, it’s all there.

No holds barred.

Check out the podcast, hear what Regena has to say on the magical topic of pussy, and learn to embrace what makes, well… us.

She’s one of us, divorced young with a small daughter, yet she found the means to build a business which boasts seven figures!

The 5 Love Languages

5 love languages

This one is just a staple for every woman (and man) to read. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts is such an impactful book because it shows us how we can all give love, and receive love, in the most powerful way unique to us.

You think you know someone, and what makes them tick?

You may want to think again. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the 5 Love Languages, puts love and relationships into a whole new perspective, one which might just flip your world on its head.

Never did it occur to me there was more than one kind of unspoken love language, but here we are. And, admittedly, Chapman digs right into you and those around you.

If you’re anything like me, expect one of those “Aha!” moments, maybe more than once.

This #1 best seller for the NYTimes is here to stay. Make sure the people you care about are, too, and learn their language.

19 thoughts on “The Single Mom Book List | What every single mom should be reading right now!

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post and appreciate your website name so much! I am a 46 year old single working mom and have been on my own for almost ten years. I left my ex-husband when my daugher was 11 months old and my son was 3. It wasn’t an easy decision but knew it had to be done because I wanted to be happy and make a happy life for myself and my children. I felt liberated when I made the decision and knew I had support from friends and family and have never looked back.

    Thank you for such an honest expression of your story, I share many of the same stories and look forward to creating many more in the future.

    1. Thanks for this – I hear again and again how women make the decision to leave fulfilling or toxic marriages to find happiness for the whole family. I think it is often these unhappy relationships with good people that are the hardest to leave, because there isn’t an overt reason of abuse, addiction, etc., to justify it.

  2. And the most important question: how can we get the fathers to participate and help carry some of the load? I think men are starting to step up to the plate. But in many cases, they don’t until they are confronted with a divorce and limited access to their kids. What can we do to get ahead of that?

    The other problem that may be particular to just me: how do we let go the expectation set for us by our mothers (or set by us in witnessing our mothers)? My mom “did it all,” working full-time, heading the household financially, spelling out chores, (eh-hum) laundry, and not to mention her role as President of the PTA for each school that my brother and I attended. Some of us maybe witnessed “Super Mom” at work. I tell myself that she did it during a time when there was a off-switch: no internet (as we know it today), no cell phones (that weren’t the size of platform heels), and little expectation to work after 5pm. Still, I’m astounded at what she did and it pushes me to do more (like, attending every PTA meeting for the rest of my tired life).

  3. Good interview. I’d add that the “I’m just sooo busy” angle is often a convenient excuse to avoid getting together with someone. But, I guess it’s more polite than saying, “Even though there are 8,760 hours in a year, I can’t quite motivate myself to spend even 2 of them with you anytime soon…if ever.” The busy claim is as all-purpose as duct tape…

    1. Ha! So true Harry. People have been doing that forever – but the new thing (I find) is that there is a sort of status symbol attached to being occupied)

      1. I think it all comes down to low self-esteem. People want to be “busy” because it makes them appear in the eyes of others, well…important.
        Also, technology has crept into our (not mine) lives and many people spend way too much time doing…mindless stuff, like updating facebook status and twitting etc.
        People also have larger homes than many , many years ago those home need to be maintained. People commute for work and that takes time. People over schedule their kids because they thing that’s the trendy thing to do…
        I live my life simple. I do keep a clean and neat household and cook for my family meals from scratch, yes, including baking bread, making ice cream etc. It’s all about priorites, time management etc.
        Like you mentioned, this a first world problem.

        1. Anna- Great perspective. We have so many choices, so much control over our lives that we do not appreciate it. Good on you for taking a deep look at what makes you happy and embracing it.

  4. I saw her on a talk show yesterday and LOVED her. I’m a big fan of her dad and his philosophy on money. Can’t wait to crack open the book, and I’m sure, recommend it to a few hundred thousand people! :)

  5. what a great interview and she is young but she has wise advice. We have similar ethics in terms of finance and ethics. Great personality too.

  6. This problem is absolutely a huge issue in divorce. It takes a strong, open-minded man to handle the role of “support” to his “monied” wife: one who can understand that the whole functioning and well-being of the relationship involves more than just salary contribution. This is the successful dynamic in which I was raised. It is the (currently successful) dynamic of my living situation now. But it was horrible during my own failed marriage, in part because my ex- was not able to deal with the shift of my income over his (of his own doing!) and help support me in ways beyond income. Right when I had our first child and was facing “Partner vs. Mommy track,” he took a massive pay-cut, in a job that provided him with extreme work hours and the inflexibility of a para-military organization. I struggled to do it all, and miserably failed!

  7. Very interesting interview. I agree with Farnoosh in the fact that you need to be mutually respectful in a relationship and men can have insecurities in this area but I think you have to be careful not to mommy your husband too. You don’t want to encourage complacency in him either. I think there is an issue of underachieving people in this generation, both men and women. Discussing issues respectfully is always a safe bet. It is essential to communicate not patronize either party.

  8. I’ve learned a lot from Dave Ramsey. I’m sure she has a lot to offer as well.

    While my parents weren’t the financial wizards, with four kids they didn’t put themselves in debt to raise us either. If we wanted a car, we were expected to save and pay for every bit of it ourselves (but also maintain our grades.) When it came to college, three of the four of us worked full time, and paid our own way through where we didn’t get scholarships (one sibling didn’t go to college) – no student loans. I learned a lot in those “lessons”, and I think too many kids today, including my nieces and nephews, have been spoiled way beyond reason with parents trying to keep up with the Joneses.

    No parents, single or married, should feel bad that they can’t get their kids everything all the other kids seem to have – or even some of the things other kids have. There is something to be said for learning to do without when everyone around you is spoiled. In my life I learned a lot about work ethic, and many of the spoiled teens I graduated with were left behind when it came time to work hard in life.

    1. I totally agree with 100% of what you said, though I am starting to see myself going down the guilt rabbit hole. Like I wish I could send my kids to a really fabulous summer camp with all the other NYC kids, but I just can’t swing it. Will my kids suffer? No. But I still wish I could give them that. #firstworldproblems

  9. Wow, I love the idea of not giving kids allowances and instead paying them for work to build those entrepreneurial skills. I’ve seen the argument against paying kids for chores, but framing it as entrepreneurship illustrates how valuable this could be!

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