What to do when you become a single mum is a question you might find yourself asking before or after your separation.
It’s a life-changing event which will affect both you and your children. Knowing the first steps is a great starting point to enter this new phase of your life with dignity, determination and hopefully not too much drama.
So, how do you know what to do when you become a single mum? Well, we’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt. And now we’ve created a list to help you be the organised and in-control new single mum that we weren’t!
In addition to this article, we have other excellent resources to support you through these first stages of separation, including:
The OMG I’m a single mum … NOW WHAT? free ebook which is a much more in-depth version of this article.
The “You’ve Got This” single mum eCourse which helps you embrace your new independence, redefine your path, and be the best you can be, all whilst being a brilliant single mum!
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BECOME A SINGLE MUM
THE FIRST THING TO REMEMBER
- Don’t panic. You are going to be just fine. Family break-ups are upsetting but it happens regularly and we have all survived. You will too.
WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS
- Your kids will not turn into emotionally scarred adults with no friends who are afraid to step outside their front door. Divorce is incredibly common now and remember it is conflict which negatively impacts children, more so than the separation.
- Reassure them that the separation is not their fault and tell them you love them as much as you can without annoying or embarrassing them.
- Keep their daily routine as normal as you can in terms of school and friends because this will give them the stability and security they need at this time. Adjusting to a new school can be challenging for children.
- Don’t drag them into the drama of your separation or make derogatory comments about dad in front of them or ‘accidentally’ within earshot. Dad is still dad to them and putting him down will backfire on you.
- Depending on the age of your children, tell them what is happening in a relatable way. If they struggle with the concept, grab some books for children of divorce which will help them understand, comfort them and make them feel less alone.
- Talk to their childcare centre or school so the teachers understand what is happening should your child display any out of character behaviour. And ask them to keep you in the loop if you child seems anxious or upset at any time.
- Although you might feel like the worst mum in the world, YOU ARE NOT. Remind yourself that some aspects of divorce can be positive for kids. And never forget that it is better for children to live in two happy homes, rather than one unhappy one.
WHAT ABOUT FINANCES AND ALL THAT STUFF?
- What to do when you become a single mum around finances can be a worry. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Follow the process and everything will work out.
- Agree on a date of separation with your ex-partner and make a note of it. You will need this for your separation and to know when you can officially divorce.
- Set-up a new bank account in your name and direct your income/wages into it.
- Close joint accounts and credit cards, or put them on hold so neither you or your partner can take money out.
- If you have a redraw facility on your mortgage, cancel it. Better still, talk to your bank to set-up an arrangement whereby both you and your ex must sign an agreement to withdraw money.
- Talk to Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support to update them on the changes to your family circumstances. You might be entitled to benefits to help you through a difficult financial period.
- Contact your super fund to update your nominated beneficiary, if you no longer want it to be your ex. While you’re at it check your balance at the time of separation, you will need this later when you financially separate.
- If you are renting and you or your partner move out of the home, make sure the property lease is updated.
- Think about changing your will to remove your ex if necessary or to change your wishes.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BECOME A SINGLE MUM (cont.)
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
- Be careful who you listen to during your separation period. Well-meaning friends and family will offer advice but every separation is different, both practically and emotionally. Focus on what works for your family.
- Remember that everything is just a phase. The first few weeks/months of a separation is the ‘crisis’ period where everyone is trying adjust to a new way-of-life. This will pass. Things will get easier. Not only that, you will learn so much and will become an even stronger, more independent woman in the process, yay.
- However busy you are, take time for self-care. Your children will not benefit from mum being a frazzled wreck. They want to see mum calm, happy and in control. If you need time-out to make this happen DO IT. And drop the mum guilt on the way out the door, it is a wasted emotion.
- Memorise some mantras to help you through the harder days. Pick something that works for you and say it to yourself in the morning, at night, or those times when you feel like pulling your hair out or banging your head against a brick wall.
- You may be surprised that, although you are always super-busy, you feel lonely without a partner or other adult company. Put measures in place to prevent this happening and know what to do or who to turn to when lonely moments hit.
FINAL POINT ON WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU BECOME A SINGLE MUM
Reach out for support if you need it. We are lucky that there are lots or resources available for us single mummas nowadays. Whether it’s the Single Mum Vine FB group, our Anonymous Forum, a counsellor, social worker or your local GP, never hesitate to ask for help. It is the first step in healing and one that only you can take.
Knowing what to do when you become a single mum can be overwhelming, even scary. Try to think of it as a transition in your life. It will take time to get used to, it, but when you have you may really enjoy it. So many single mums have successful, happy lives which they love and wouldn’t have any other way. Take one step at a time, and there is no reason that you won’t feel this way too.