Being a single mum is a fiercely independent role. Many of us have lost trust in others and genuinely feel it's easier to do everything ourselves. But showing vulnerability and asking for support as a single mum is an act of strength. And let's face it, we can't learn everything from YouTube.
Having been a single mum for ten years (many of which I was defiant in my 'I don't need help attitude), I eventually learned to ask for help. And it changed my life.
I vividly recall the days when I thought I had to do it all alone. The exhaustion, the stress, and the emotional toll were all too familiar. But then, something shifted within me. I realised that by opening up to my friends, family, and community, I was inviting a network of love and support I hadn't fully tapped into before.
It changed everything.
In this article, I talk you through:
- Why it's so important to let other people into your world to help you
- How to ask for help, even when it feels impossible
- When to know the time is right to reach out for support
Why it's important to ask for help as a single mum
Reduce your stress levels
There is no doubt that the role of a single mother is challenging. Balancing parenting, work, and personal well-being is no mean feat.
Getting support in any area of your life, from support with childcare to a mate lending a sympathetic ear over a cuppa, will help lower stress levels.
Excellent role modelling for your children
We all want our kids to look up to us and see how damn capable we are, but this doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself.
It's good for your little ones to see mum reaching for help and delegating tasks to make their worlds more ordered and peaceful.
Do you want to teach your children that we have to do everything on our own, or would you prefer them to see how to build support systems to keep them safe and happy?
Create a support system
We all need a sound support system. This usually consists of mates, family, and professional services. We fall back on this system in times of need. It is a safety net.
But you can't create a support system if you never seek help.
Think of it this way: Each time you reach for help or give support to others, you build another section of your support system, making it more robust and reliable.
Skill and knowledge sharing
I know what I'm good at and what I'm not.
For example, it would take me several hours to assemble a piece of furniture (eleven hours in total for a desk once - no joke), but I have a friend who could do the same in one hour. I provide tea or wine and ooh and ahh at his skills, and everyone's happy.
Offer your skillset in return should your support be needed.
Prevent loneliness and isolation
Doing everything yourself feels safer and easier, but it gets lonely over time.
Getting support from others, whether a tradie to mow the lawn or another mum to drop the kids off after school, means human interaction.
Human interaction provides a sense of connection and belonging, releasing neurotransmitters like oxytocin that promote happiness and emotional well-being.
Further reading: How can I be so busy but still feel so lonely.
Know you are cared for
However adverse you might feel to receiving help from others, it just makes you feel good.
Calling on a friend for a lift to the mechanic to collect your car after a service or asking your handy plumber friend to check a dripping tap makes you feel like someone has your back.
Knowing you are cared for can evoke a deep sense of comfort, validation, and emotional security. This fosters a positive outlook and a greater sense of belonging in your relationships and the world around you.
Easier time management
And then there's the time aspect ...
Asking another mum to take your children to netball so you can do a couple of extra work hours is acceptable and will free up valuable time.
We all wish we had more hours in the day. Asking for help as a single mum is a surefire way to get them.
Further reading: Brilliant time management tips for busy single mums.
Asking for help as a single mum: How to do it
So how do you muster the courage to ask for help?
First and foremost, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to those you trust, whether it's a close friend, family member, or even a support group for single parents.
Explain your situation honestly without downplaying the challenges you're facing.
Never forget that vulnerability is not a weakness; it's an act of courage that invites genuine connections.
Be clear about what kind of help you need, whether babysitting for a few hours, a hand with household chores, or someone to talk to when things get tough. Articulating your needs helps others understand how they can best support you.
While asking for support, always offer a helping hand in return. This has three benefits:
- It makes it easier to ask for help if you have something to offer in return. For example, ask another mum to have your children after school when you have a late work meeting. Then provide the same in return if the need arises for her.
- It feels good to be able to support the people who are helping you. This is the creation of the aforementioned support system.
- Giving support to others makes you feel useful, valuable and empowered
Where to ask for help as a single mum
So, you've finally decided that asking for help as a single mum is OK. Great!
Now where to get that much-needed and well-deserved support?
I started with friends and family. Even with most of my family on the other side of the world, I got moral support and encouragement through a simple WhatsApp call. Since my friend circle had depleted considerably post-separation, I even joined a few friend finder apps to find like-minded mums in my local area.
Then, there are the other mums. I mean the ladies you meet at playgroup, kindy, and school. They seem to be coping, but you can bet they have similar struggles to you. Strike up a chat, get to know a few, and build on that for a fledging two-way support system. Remember, friendship alone is support ... help with the practical stuff is a bonus.
When asking for help as a single mum, think beyond the confines of your world. There is government support for single mothers and an array of brilliant charities offering everything from financial, practical, and emotional assistance.
Lastly, don't underestimate the power of community resources. Local organisations, online forums, and parenting networks can offer valuable advice and connections that make a world of difference.
My final thoughts: Asking for help as a single mum
Asking for help as a single mother isn't a sign of failure; it's a sign of resilience and a commitment to creating the best life possible for your child.
By reaching out, you're setting a powerful example for your child – showing them that it's okay to seek support and that together, we can navigate the challenges that life throws our way.
So, don't hold back. Identify where you need help, work out where and how to get it ... and reach out.