These 5 fears were identified as the worst fears for single moms by members of our private group Empowered Single Mom Tribe. Get the tips you need to cope with your worst fears here.
Get the tips you need to deal with these common single mom problems that cause fear and anxiety. Thanks to the EMS Tribe for their help in preparing this for you.
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- How am I going to survive financially as a single mom?
- Will I be alone forever?
- Will I be replaced in my kids’ hearts & lives?
- Will the breakup or abandonment by their dad damage them psychologically?
- What if I die or tragedy strikes and I can’t take care of them?
1. How am I going to survive financially as a single mom?
It is no wonder the fear of not having financial security is a primary concern for single moms. When you become a single mom you often go from 2 incomes to one.
In today’s’ economy it is scary to be totally responsible for bringing in all of the financial resources for your family. Given that women still earn less than men achieving financial stability is a challenge.
Besides that, with 2 parents there are two people to care for the children, make meals and all the other chores of running a household. Moms are often tired from working to get all of that done. There are days, sometimes weeks or months just doing life as a single mom is beyond exhausting.
If you were a one-income family before the divorce it was probably the kids’ father who was the primary breadwinner and you stepped out of the job market to be a full-time mom and homemaker. Now you will need to do both earn the money and do all of the parenting and homemaking when your kids are with you.
Fear around financial stability has many parts. How will you pay for the ongoing expenses? Will you ever afford a house, pay the mortgage, afford home maintenance and repair when you do get a house?
Then there are the future fears of not having enough money. How will your kids ever be able to afford college? If you are getting child support what will happen when that stops? How will you be able to retire when there is barely enough money to pay the day to day bills?
How to Be Financially Stable as a Single Mom
The first step to being financially stable is setting up a balanced budget. Start with a budget worksheet (here are some free options) and write down all of your current expenses and your current income.
You will need to find a way to have fewer expenses than income by cutting your expenses or increasing your income. In all likelyhood you will need to do some of each cutting where you can and earning more where you can. This is a necessary challenge. I like the Cash-Fueled Life System because the focus in on identifying your priorities and funding your dreams. She makes having a balanced budget feel more like a game than a burden.
Food, housing, transportation, and entertainment are 4 of the biggest expenses in most household budgets. Your food budget can be cut by planning cheap, easy meals, avoiding most food that comes in a box, and eating at home. Dining on a Dime is one of the best cookbooks out there for planning cheap meals. It is so much more than a cookbook.
Many single moms live with family or roommates in the beginning to cut costs and as a bonus there is another person to help with the work.
As for transportation consider if you can do without a car or minimize your use of a car by taking public transportation, walking and biking if your kids are old enough to bike. This will be easier in a city with good public transportation. Even if you need a car, when the kids are old enough to drive, consider if you can still get by with one vehicle.
There are many free or cheap things to do for fun on a weekly basis. One of my favorite things to do is go to free local festivals. My sister is the Groupon queen and saves money that way. Here are some more ideas to get you started.
Everyone needs fun in their life and a vacation is a great time to really have fun with your kids and make memories. There are many ways to cut costs on vacations. One of my favorite is to use credit card points for free hotel rooms. Or have fun by vacationing at home with these 23 ideas.
Making More Money
Often as a two income family you may have worked less than full time or been underemployed. Now is the time to analyze your career choice to decide if there is a way to use your education and skills to make more money.
Another strategy many single moms use is to have a side hustle besides their main job. One common side hustle is to make things to sell on Etsy, at craft fairs or to friends. Even if you aren’t very crafty there are many things you can make and sell.
I started this blog as a way to help more single moms thrive at life, but it also makes me a little extra income. This extra income didn’t come quickly, but I enjoy helping others and the income will give me the means to retire earlier than I could have without it. Blogging is not a short term fix it is a long game. If you want to try it save yourself some heartache and learn from my blogging mistakes.
My friend Jennifer, who works from home, told me about 3 classes to get started with a work from home business. I know so many moms who have made a business where they work from home. Some of them are married and have been so successful their husbands left their jobs to come home and work with them in there work from anywhere business.
Need even more ideas to cut costs and increas your income? I put together a huge list of resources here: How to Make Ends Meet for Single Moms.
What about college?
Many single moms are worried about how their kids will be able to afford college. Some wish they could go back to school, but can’t imagine how t make college and single mom life work. You can do it. So many moms have gone back to school after a break-up to expand their options.
My solution to this when my kids where seniors was to make applying for scholarships their part-time job their senior year of high school. Luckily they both were excellent students and had high ACT scores.
- Academic scholarships brought their private college tuition down to the level of state school tuition.
- We found a large regional scholarship for STEM students. It required an essay and regular reporting while in college, but it saved him several thousand dollars.
- Many local $250-$500 scholarships all added up.
- A band scholarship helped my oldest, if your kids are interested and able to be involved in college athletics they often provide large scholarships.
- There are many need-based loans and grants and as a single income family, this benefits you. Check the current FAFSA rules. The last I checked the income of the parent who had the kids with him/her was the income that counted.
- Both of my sons left high school with college credits from advanced placement classes. Different high schools have different options. Some kids can do PSEO others have college in the high school classes. This doesn’t need to be overdone but gives college students more flexibility when they decide to change majors. These college-level courses are also helpful in building study skills.
- My kids went to a college that stresses the 4-year plan meaning they took very full academic loads while in college (over 16 hours per term). Financial aid greatly decreases when students go for a 5th year in most cases. One of their friends was an exception to this as an engineering major he had some very well paid internships, which made the 5th year worth it.
These tips are good for the kids and for you if a college degree would further your career goals. I have also been surprised to learn how much financial aid is out there for graduate degrees, so do your research and don’t assume more education is out of reach.
2. Being alone for the rest of my life
If you are like me when I got divorced I not only lost my husband, I also lost my best friend and a good part of my social support network, because our life was organized around being a couple and two parent family. The beginning was a lonely time.
First, you will need to make some new friends. In the beginning focus on women friends. You can make new friends by trying some new things. If you share custody with their dad when he has them is a good time to work on trying some new things and getting together with friends. If you are solo 365 days a year focus on family activities or explore the possibility that extended family can pitch in from time to time.
It is important to heal before you start dating and trying to make time for a man in your life. Eventually, you will probably want to start dating and that brings with it a whole new set of fears.
The two biggest fears related to dating are
1. Are there any nice men out there?
2. How will my dating affect my kids?
Yes, there are still nice men, good men out there. Think about the men you know for proof. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Of course, some fish are carp or garbage fish so pay attention to where you are fishing.
Look at your brothers, uncles, cousins, coworkers and your friends’ husbands. These are not men to date, but proof good men do exist. You will probably find some garbage in that pool too, but you will also see some good men to give you hope.
Remember you teach a man how to treat you. This is one of my favorite books on dating (written by a man for women). I love how he really tells it like it is and makes you stop in your tracks. I laughed so hard I cried the first time I read this book and often recommend it to my women psychotherapy and coaching clients. More tips on dating again and dating with kids here.
Date from a place of being open to a relationship and not needing a man to survive and you will make better choices about which man to give the honor of a second date.
3. Will I be replaced in my kids’ lives & hearts?
There are several variations on this theme.
- Competing with dad
- Dad’s new wife or girlfriend
- I work so much I hardly have any time with the kids.
Remember you are their mother. No one will replace you. You have a special bond with your kids that no one can take away from you. Try to be happy your kids have more people to love and care about them. I know this is easier said than done, but it will help, so strive to be grateful for what others add to your kids’ lives. There is a section on parenting as a single mom in Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy Positive life to get some great advice on parenting as a single mom.
Competing with Dad
It is hard when you feel like you are competing with dad because you are providing stability and he is providing the fun. What helped me was to frame it that I was providing the walls for the house and he was the TV. I would have loved to be the TV more often, but a TV is no good without the walls, furniture, electricity, and internet.
Providing a sense of home is priceless. In time your kids will see what you provided for them. They will see that you are the one who taught them life skills and made life work.
The Other Woman
As for the new woman in dad’s life and their life. I repeat you are their mother and will always be their mother. If they like her and she is kind to them do your best to be grateful for this.
I know it is so hard to have someone else do some of the motherly things when you are not with them. You have more than one friend and having another friend doesn’t make your first friend less important. Not an exact comparison, but you get the picture.
You are probably working full time to financially support your family. You may have a second job or a side hustle to bring in additional income. Then there is the cooking, cleaning, and kid shuttling. That leaves little time for fun and making memories.
How to Maximize Making Memories and Being Available
Set aside time weekly when you have time together. This will vary based on your schedule and the kids which will likely change from activity season to activity season and as they get older. We had meals together as often as humanely possible. I had a before dinner helper and an after dinner helper. That gave me a few minutes of individual time each day they were with me. I also appreciated the help.
Some winters we had a family puzzle going and would work on it together a few minutes at a time. Friday night was pizza and a movie night. Even as teens they would often skip the movie but squeeze in time for family pizza before going out with friends because it had become an important tradition.
Their dad made good use of car time, by having special radio shows they listened to together. Podcasts are another fun thing to share during car time or have it quiet or only music and use the time to check in or listen in on backseat conversations. I missed that taxying time when they started to drive.
Make time for vacations together. If money is tight go camping or have a staycation and focus on free activities. It is the intentional time together that will be remembered.
4. Will my kids be permanently damaged by the breakup of my relationship with their dad?
The ideal family is one where kids are raised with both parents who love them, are kind, responsible, intentional about the time they spend with the kids, the parents love each other and everyone is emotionally and physically healthy. Oh and there is enough time and money to do everything, but not so much the kids grow up to be entitled, selfish adults.
That fairy tale doesn’t exist. Not it is not ideal that you got divorced, but our kids can still grow up to be wonderful well functioning adults who contribute to society. We all can think of famous examples of people who are wonderful human beings and were raised by single moms.
Focus on being emotionally available to your kids. Be intentional about your parenting. If dad is not involved be intentional about connecting with other positive men. NOT men you date. Too often men you date will come and go.
I interviewed several kids about what they wish their parents knew about divorce and found their advice helpful. You can read their advice here.
5. What if I die?
This is a special fear for single moms when dad isn’t involved. If your family is an appropriate support system give some attention to your kids developing a relationship with extended family members. Make arrangements for who will have the children in the unlikely event that you die or tragedy strikes and you are not able to care for them.
It is rare that a mother dies when her children are still living at home, but it does happen. Make plans for who will care for them and make sure if you think it will be a problem that you have legal documents drawn up. Then put it out of your mind and make the best of every day.
If your kids express concern about what will happen if you die tell them the plan but don’t dwell on it and there is no need for you to bring it up if they don’t. If they are not concerned about it then you don’t need to bring it to their attention. At some point, they will probably ask what will happen if you die. That is the time to talk about it.
What Do Single Moms Need to Deal with Her Worst Fears?
You can deal with your fears as a single mom by having a dependable income from your job or business, taking time for self-care and building a support network.
1. Dependable income with flexibility
To deal with financial insecurity we need to deal with all of these fears are a job or business where we have flexibility and earn enough money to pay the bills, save for retirement and have enough leftover to have some fun from time to time. We also need to be frugal because even if we make a good income there is only one of us and we need to be clear on where our money is going.
2. Self Care Plan
The insecurities of being replaced and fear of being alone can be mitigated with a good self-care plan. Being tired and drained raises anxiety and insecurity. Enough sleep, healthy food, physical activity, journaling and time with friends are all part of my self-care plan. Thriving a Single Mom Journal is a great journal to help you build a new dream.
3. Support System
When you are alone it is easy to feel lonely. This loneliness is especially common in the early stages after a divorce or breakup. Build your support system by making new friends and by reconnecting with friends and family you may have drifted away from while you were in the relationship with the kids’ dad. I give you several ideas in How to Deal with Loneliness as a Single Mom. Empowered Single Mom Tribe is my private group where we support each other on our journey as single moms. It is a great place to get advice and encouragement.
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
As a member of the Empowered Single Moms community, I believe you can stop carrying the weight of the world alone and build a life you love. Join my mailing list and get 5 Keys to Single Mom Success.
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