Contributed by Michelle Hassler
For many women, motherhood is an adventure – an adventure that is joyful, selfless, and life-altering. However, the journey of motherhood comes with ups and downs, sleepless nights, unforeseen expenses, and stinging self-doubt. Everyone needs some kind of support along the way. One minute, the road might be smooth and flat, but there could be a huge dip or sharp curve around the corner. Are you a single mom who is overwhelmed and would benefit from some support? Do you know a single mom who is struggling to accomplish daily tasks, needs financial help, or simply could use a friend to lean on? Below are some ways that you can find help for single moms.
Form a Caregiving Network
Life is busy and unpredictable. A single mom could need help in a moment’s notice. Setting up a system with several tiers of caregivers will help a single mom to feel more secure and comfortable when the unexpected occurs and childcare is needed in a pinch. If family help is sparse or unavailable, it is sometimes hard to know where to look. Talk to friends and coworkers and see if they have any recommendations for babysitters or mother’s helpers. Checking with a child’s school may be a helpful resource as well. Sometimes faculty or staff members will babysit or nanny for families, especially in the summer months. A child’s teacher may even know someone who they trust and would be a good fit for the family. Your town might have a local nanny or babysitting service that you could try. There are also websites like SitterCity that allow you to find and hire qualified sitters in your area. Once you have a roster with several dependable people, it will be easier to call on someone in a moment’s notice and be guaranteed to have someone you can depend on in case of emergency.
Many single moms could benefit from the assistance of government or community organizations. In most states, dialing 211 will connect families in need with appropriate agencies that can help. Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission, this free phone call will put you in touch with the appropriate health and human service agencies in your area. This universally recognized number will provide resources for the following categories that could provide much needed help for single moms:
Basic Human Needs (food banks, clothing banks, shelters, rent assistance, utility assistance)
Physical and Mental Health (health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health, children’s health insurance programs, medical information, crisis intervention, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation)
Children, Youth and Family Support (child care, after school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, summer camps and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services)
Work Support (financial assistance, job training, and transportation assistance and education programs)
If your state does not support 211, or you want additional information on available programs, visit Single Mother Guide for a variety of resources on assistance for single mothers. You can view assistance programs by state or stay updated on various topics that relate to being a single mother such as grants, financial aid, nutrition assistance programs, insurance, and child care.
Find a Support Group
Single moms can benefit from the support of fellow mothers who are also in the trenches. Find an organization that connects parents and children for support, friendship and encouragement in the local community. Some preliminary research will help to identify a reputable organization. The Mommies Network may be a good place to start as they are free to join and have chapters across the country. After joining the group, parents can participate in discussions about parenting, plan play dates, and even enjoy the occasional mom’s night out! There may also be local groups that are more specialized for your particular interests or demographic. Searching for a group through Meetup could lead to groups for single parents or single moms in your area. This would be a great resource to help single moms connect with others in the community. For a support network at your fingertips, download the SmartMom app and ask a network of moms for help from the comfort of the couch.
It is easy for single moms to feel like they are facing an uphill battle alone. Seeking support from others as well as programs or government agencies will help to lighten a heavy load. Single moms may be strong, but they also deserve moments of reprieve – a deserved break and a helping hand.