If you’re doing the ‘single mum thing’ you’ll know that it is hectic. Juggling kids/work/house is a full time job and more. You struggle to find a moments peace … even sitting on the toilet.
For anyone looking in, the possibility that you might feel lonely is almost laughable. How on earth could you? You never stop!
Yet, in a Beanstalk survey taken by 477 single mums in 2018 we found that feelings of loneliness and isolation are extremely common amongst single mums. In fact, a whopping 87% admitted to feeling lonely several times a week.
So, firstly (and slightly ironically) YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And secondly, it is perfectly normal to feel lonely as a single mum.
Let’s look at some reasons why single mumming can be a lonely gig.
WHY SINGLE MUMS CAN FEEL LIKE THE LONELIEST PEOPLE ON EARTH
EXPECTATION VS. REALITY
For many (not all) being a single mum was not the plan. You may have earnestly believed your marriage was for life and had visions of growing old together, downsizing and caring for the grandkids as a team. That vision, with that person … has gone.
And yes, it’s a bloody lonely feeling.
Finding a new norm on your own when you are not really sure what that new norm is, is scary. Navigating your new path without your ex, however much you drove each other mad, is a solitary journey.
Luckily, difficult endings eventually lead to new beginnings and your new path will have lots of surprises. In time, you may re-partner. Or you will adapt and love being single. Either way, you’re going to meet some incredible people on your single mum journey and they will be only too happy to enjoy the ride with you.
There is no doubt about it … your friendship group will shift when you become a single mum. And while this transition is happening it is possible you will feel forlorn and a wee bit friendless.
You need friends in your life to make you feel valued, to share your experiences, to laugh with, to cry with and to smash plates onto random rocks with.
If, for whatever reason, you lose friends after your breakup (their loss btw) rest assured that wonderful new people will come into your world. You may feel isolated for a period of time, but it will only be a phase to work through.
When it comes to feeling lonely as a single mum, evenings and weekends are the trigger times. This is because these are the times you would be doing something with your partner if you were in a relationship.
Let’s start with the evenings. That moment you’ve been longing for all day, when the kids are in bed and the house is finally quiet. YES! Peace. At. Last. But what’s that emotion sneaking in as you finally collapse on the couch? Could you be craving the company of another adult? Someone to chat, cuddle and decompress with?
Now is the time embrace all that is good about being single. Take advantage of having sole control of the remote then hurl yourself diagonally across your bed … that is, if little people haven’t beat you to it.
And then there’s the weekends which can be an odd mix of exhilaratingly exciting or desperately lonely. Welcome to the yo-yo world of single motherhood.
As a co-parent, you may be adjusting to weekends without your children. As a sole parent you might longing for adult company, me time or ideas to entertain the kids. Without the weekly routine to drive you, it can be hard to combat feelings of loneliness.
Try planning your weekends in advance to make sure they are a healthy mix of fun and downtime. Find new routines to power you through. And make time for self-improvement and self-care for yourself … yes YOU single mumma.
Further reading: 8 Reasons why a good routine can change your life.
Now this one is a biggie when it comes to things-that-make-us-feel-alone. Whether it’s with the kids or not, attending events can make for horrendous Billy No Mates moments.
I am sure you can relate when I talk about being the only single person in a room full of couples. Or trying to whizz around a school parent’s evening for two kids with said kids plonked in the corner of the hall with iPads and strict instructions NOT TO MOVE. Or simply not being able to attend because, well … I’m a single mum and have no-one to look after the kids.
I can tell you that it does get easier as your children get older and you become comfortable in your skin as a single mum. In fact, I can’t help a private snigger as I watch couples at parties arguing about when to leave. I up and leave whenever I want to. And parent’s evenings? You get used to doing them alone. Tbh why would you need another person?
Go to events and own your single mum status. You will be respected by many, and envied by even more.
SINGLE PARENTS FEELING LONELY (CONT.)
BEING IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE
As a single mum being is two places at once is sometimes a necessity. I used to feel like Mrs Doubtfire in the restaurant scene trying to juggle work and school events. Basically, it is impossible, but man do we try.
The frustration of not being able do everything and be everywhere that you need to be because you don’t have backup is super hard. On the outside you appear frantic-busy, but on the inside, you feel so completely alone because you simply don’t have the support you deserve.
As you dive further into single mum life, you will build a natural support system around yourself. Other mums will jump in to help you, and you will offer support to them in return. Oh, and you will also find being a single parent is a fabulous excuse for avoiding anything you actually don’t want to go to.
THE SINGLE MUM STIGMA
I hate to say it, but there is still a single mum stigma, albeit changed greatly over past years.
There will be times when you will be overlooked, not invited, looked-down-upon or simply ignored for that simple reason that you are a single mother. And it can make you feel like running into your house and never coming out again. Cue: Feelings of loneliness and isolation.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If this happens to you please remember that it is disgraceful, short-sighted behaviour from small-minded, unempathetic people who can’t see further than the end of their noses. You don’t have to look far to see fabulously AMAZING single mums who are surviving and thriving. Look around you and look in the mirror. See! There are incredible single mums everywhere!
Come out of your house and find your tribe. We are all here waiting for you.