Six Crucial Steps For Building Your Support System as A Single Mother

Download Support System Worksheet

Download the support system worksheet for a detailed step-by-step guide.

Let’s face it. We have struggles other parents can’t even imagine.

Financial strain. Stuck in an underpaid job. Navigating a broken legal system. Dating. Not dating. Child care. Parenting. Co-parenting. Dealing with exes. Unhealed traumas. Emotional shit.

It’s a lot.

To top it off, you are judged for your single mom status. The expectations for you are…different.

You’re constantly reminded of assumptions others make about what your life should be like.

  • You’re judged for not spending enough time with your children.
  • You haven’t been promoted because you’re deemed incapable given your “circumstances.”
  • You’re discarded in the dating pool because you have a kid.
  • Or your partner says you can’t follow your dreams until your children are grown.
  • Or your married friends pressure you to find a spouse when you can’t even fathom a romantic relationship.
  • Or perhaps your family shames you for leaving a failed relationship to begin with.
  • Maybe you’ve even experienced direct persecution and hostility.

You would think with so many other single mothers out there, we would be an accepted and integral part of society.

Instead, we feel isolated. Alone.

Loneliness and isolation are plaguing our society. We are more “connected” yet disconnected than ever. As a physician, I know the dangers of loneliness on health.

The more emotional and social connections you have, the happier and healthier you are.

“It takes a village.” You’ve heard every parent say it when talking about raising children.

“I need more support,” you plead.

Where the fuck is this village everyone keeps talking about?

Enough.

If you can’t relate to the people around you anymore, If you don’t have support from your current network — It’s time to find a new one.

If you want a support system, you have to actively create it.

The good news? It’s a skill. And skills can be learned, practiced and refined.

How to Build Your Unbreakable Tribe

1. ACCEPT HELP

The first step you can take is learning to accept help. The excuse list is long. I don’t have time, it will be awkward, they’re probably too busy, I don’t want to intrude on their life.

Don’t be like me, who let everything fall apart because of my pride.

While I was in my residency with my baby, it was simply unfathomable for me to do it on my own.

But I tried. And failed.

And when I crashed (believe me, eventually you will), I couldn’t even get out of bed.

Don’t let it get to that point. There is NO shame in needing and asking for help.

That is just silliness and that stops today.

As a solo parent, you’re allowed to accept and ask for help for everything from childcare, to carrying groceries, rides, and anything in between.

Once I asked a stranger to tie my shoe for me when I was carrying my child. I’ve accepted free childcare (umm…hell yes to that always), home-cooked meals, clothing, an envelope of cash from a church group, and permission to leave work early. For Mother’s Day, I handed my daughter over to her aunts and uncles for a full 24 hours. You just have to ask.

Here’s the best part. No one has EVER said no.

People WANT to help you and support you.

You just have to say yes.

 

But support may mean something completely different to you. What kind of support do you need?

2. Get clear on what you really need.

Now that we’re all ok with asking for help, we need to define what it is you really need.

Do you need childcare? Financial help? Simply someone who will listen? Or someone who understands?

Prioritize your needs. What do you really need more than anything?

Use the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule and ask yourself – What few things (20%) would fulfill 80% of your needs?

3. You are the average of the 5 people you most associate with.

You are only limited by the limits you impose on yourself. Wait.

There’s something missing here.

You are only limited by the limits you allow others to impose on you.

Since my Unbreakable Transformation, my mindset has been this: I am NEVER limited by my single mother status. It is NEVER a limit of who I am or what I can achieve.

The secret to this mentality? I surround myself with people who believe that too, regardless of what my family looks like.

The beauty of the internet is that you don’t even have to physically know those 5 people. You get to choose who they are.

Let me explain.

If you spend too much time on Pinterest, you will start baking. If you watch enough HGTV, you will remodel your house. Similarly, if you listen to enough Tim Ferriss, you will start your own company. If you watch enough Oprah, you will follow your passion. If you read enough of my blog –you get the idea.

Choose your 5 wisely.

4. Show up for others.

If you want a network of people to add value to your life, think – how can I add value to theirs?  Be THEIR support, too.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. What most people need is to be listened to, to be heard, and to be seen.

How can you be present for someone? Invite them for dinner (takeout is fine, so is just wine). Show interest in them, their goals, or their struggles. Listen without the intent to respond. Then validate what they feel.

Your relationships will transform.

5. Now Take Action

Download the support system worksheet for a detailed step-by-step guide.

  • Go online. The resources are endless. Anything from facebook groups to MeetUps, to religious organizations, to nonprofits. I promise you, your community is there and waiting for you.

If you’re a single mom, you can  Join our facebook group – WARNING: This is a group only for single moms who believe in the full potential of other single moms. We do not complain, make excuses, bash, or impose limits on others. If you think you can contribute and benefit from that environment, then please, by all means, join us in this powerful movement.

  • ASK help from someone in your existing network.
  • Reach out – TODAY. Offer value, appreciation, and validation.
  • Say YES next time someone offers.

6. Work on Yourself

Sometimes, slowing down allows us to see the bigger picture.

You can see where you’re wasting time and where you can do things better.

The better you care for yourself, the better you can care for others. For more resources on this, download the Unbreakable Formula.

Final thoughts:

Your tribe may look completely different than what you already have. Explore. Be open to new connections and possibilities.

Your tribe can be expansive. Don’t expect all your needs to be met from a small number of people.

Remember, you are a gem. 

No matter how buried you’ve been and how much shit has been thrown on top of you, you are still brilliant. Sometimes, it takes a tribe to unbury you. And that’s completely OK. 

Start with the support system worksheet.

Now go be Unbreakable. 

Download Support The System Worksheet

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