So you’re officially divorced and have full custody of the kids. The whirlwind of the divorce process has subsided and things are settling down. But now the reality of what you just went through is setting in. You are a single mom. You know there are other single moms, in fact the 2011 US Census Bureau’s report on America’s Family and Living Arrangements states that the number of single mothers living with children younger than 18 was 10 million in 2011, but right now you feel like you are the only one.
The thought of having to take care of the kids, put a roof over their heads and food on the table, without the help of a spouse, can be overwhelming. Chances are you don’t feel like doing anything. It might seem impossible to find the energy or mental capacity to do even the simplest of tasks. You might even feel like people are talking about you, feeling sorry or leaving you out of the loop since you are not married anymore. It is possible for you to feel like you have lost your social position, and as a single person are not welcome in certain circles anymore. As with any challenge in life, take it all head-on, you’ll get through it and likely come out of the other side better than you were before. In the following we will address some of the difficulties you are currently or likely to face as a recently divorced single mom.
Dependent on Your Ex. It can be hard to be the only adult in the house, even though when you were married it felt like you were the only one. It will take some time to get used to, but you will. Learn how to take care of things around the house that your ex would normally take care of. You do not want to rely on your ex-husband to fix or do things for you. Buy a book on basic home repair, buy a tool kit, become that strong independent woman and single mom that you know you are.
Providing for the Family. According to a study by the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, custodial parents (primarily women) suffer a 25-percent drop in income at the time of divorce. A California study showed that a woman’s standard of living drops an astounding 73%. Whatever the case, you are now solely responsible for the financial well being of the home and kids. Take inventory of all of your assets and liabilities and make a budget. There are also books you can get to teach you the ins and outs of running the home’s finances.
Finding Happiness. Healing after a divorce is a slow process for most. Just because your marriage is over doesn’t mean your life is over. Now in finding happiness you must also find restraint. It’s tempting to take your new singleness out on the town with your single friends and blow off some steam, but you should be extremely cautious, especially if there are kids involved. If there is continued contention or custody dispute between you and your ex, a crazy night on the town could be spun into inadequate care of your children. Start small by doing something special for yourself like a trip to the spa or purchase that little something special. It will take time to be genuinely happy again, but you can get there.
Friends. You might find that you aren’t as welcome in your old group of friends as you were when you were married. Be aware that since your divorce you have more than likely become a threat in the eyes of your married friends. You might experience your married friends becoming very territorial when it comes to their husbands. When interacting with the husbands of your married friends, be sure you don’t come across as flirty or too nice. You can be assured the women are watching. You should consider seeking out other single moms by looking into support groups or play groups for your kids. You are basically starting a new life, a few new friends couldn’t hurt.
You will face many challenges as a single mother, but no matter what the challenge, you can overcome it. With a little support and a lot of knowledge, you can get past your divorce and move on to a rich and rewarding new life as a single mom.