SINGLE MOTHER, DREAM CHASER. HERE’S HOW TO STRIKE A BALANCE
Single motherhood is fast becoming a common trend within our society. Circumstances surrounding being a single parent range from divorce, death or being a single parent by choice, however, whatever the reason they are faced with similar challenges.
The number one challenge for single mothers is financial stress where the woman becomes the sole provider for shelter, school fees, feeding, clothing and so on. Whatever the need, finances must be sought as an employee or a wealth provider.
Having to work will directly create a conflict with being available to the children of the family. This conflict creates challenges in the form of mental and physical fatigue, children abandonment, making solo decisions under pressure and self-doubt.
Below are tips for navigating through life:
- Look for a job that is flexible: Getting a well paid job in Nigeria has never been an easy task but I was determined to find one that had flexible work times. As a single mother to three children under the age of 6, I could only work jobs within a certain time slot, affording me enough time to drop them at school and pick them up when they close from school.
I was therefore blessed to find one that only needed my physical presence between these hours and I was able to work from home on matters that were important. This had its challenge of not been so well paid, but as all typical Nigerians do, I got another source of income by opening a grocery store at home to augment my income.
- Reach out for support from family and friends: I am not alone? It is also true that in cases of death and divorce, single mothers find out the hard truth that not all who proclaim friendship truly are, but note that in the midst of all the chaos are few but trusted people that we can lean on. I felt betrayed by a lot of people. Cousins I had sponsored financially and otherwise, friends I confided in that turned out to be vipers, the list goes on. But my sister was a strong support for me, helping pick children from school and helping out financially, also my parents’ house provided free accommodation so that was one challenge taken care of.
It is important to know that there is someone for every season in our lives, no matter what we are going through, so take advantage of it.
- Leave work at the office
Oh! How I love the end of a work day and of course weekends. This is deliberate and purposeful prioritizing because work can take family time away. Turn off work emails and phones and focus on family at the close of work.
- Create family time
Family time must be meaningful and not activity packed. It could be basic activities like cleaning or washing dishes but doing it together can be fun. Eating dinner together as a family is also bonding. At the dinner table is where my children relate their daily experiences and we pray together. Weekends are also good for outings, visiting loved ones, shopping, eating out and other forms of entertainment that we all enjoy as family.
- Join parent groups
Network with other parents on car pooling, child minding and the likes. This allows you some time off on days you are not scheduled to pick children from school and your children have safe places to wait on certain days and in times of emergency.
- Spend time with friends
Make friends with people of like interests. I watch movies but hate parties and night events so over the years I have discovered people that enjoy what I also enjoy and I find time once a month to let my hair down and do adult things. Being with such people help to reduce stress and bring in some spontaneity into my life. Been a mother all the time can be such a burden.
I will conclude by saying this, speaking from experience, there is actually no such thing as a balance in work and family life but as moms we try to juggle things around, but whatever is going on must be dealt with immediately. Family is more important to me so I focus more on my children. I know of women that work only nightshift so they can be there for their children. We have to work to provide, some love the job they do but at the end of it, one gives way to the other.