6 Ways to Help a Single Mom Friend

momtaxi
Image via Katie Hurley

You know those days that feel like there will never be enough time to get everything done? You need groceries, the kids are overdue for the dentist and need appointments, you're behind on work and the day is packed with after-school activities (ok, maybe that's just my day today) … and you just don't know where to begin. Now imagine that same scenario …but you're on your own. You're a single mom, and you don't have any backup.

People love to reference the supermom thing – wear the cape, ditch the cape, be the cape. It's a great metaphor because sometimes it does feel like parenting requires super powers, but for some moms – every day requires detailed planning and superhero efforts just to check off the to-do list.

That's where friends can be a huge help.

No mom is an island, but it can certainly feel that way some of the time, especially when you're on your own.

I've worked with many single moms over the years, and often the thing that they crave the most is a friend who understands. Is that such a tall order?

How can you help a single mom friend? Start here:

Ask:

Between school, after-school care, sports and other activities and appointments, single moms plan their days very carefully. Chances are they have some great support systems in place, but they also might need help from friends. Don't make assumptions. Your friend might need help with rides from soccer, but she might have figured that out before she even registered her child.

Ask what you can do to help with the kids. Offer to be there when you need her. Let your friend tell you what she needs.

Offer the mom taxi:

Arranging rides for older kids can be tricky. If you are already headed for the soccer field or that super fun art class anyway, what's one more kid in your car?

Talk logistics with your friend and check in as seasons and activities change. Knowing a child is in safe and capable hands after school can be a huge relief for a single mom.

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Listen:

It's very difficult to do everything alone. If your single mom friend seems like she has everything down to a science, that's because she has to. It's all on her. That doesn't mean that the days aren't long for her.

Show up and be a friend. Resist the urge to draw comparisons or share stories and just listen. Everyone needs that one person who listens without judgment. Be that person.

Tack on groceries:

Check in with your friend before you head to the grocery store and ask for a list of essentials. Picking up a few necessities for your friend can be a huge time-saver for her.

When my husband travels, my friends offer to pitch in. It might seem like a small effort, but a grocery run by another mom when you're running on empty can be a huge help.

Offer me time:

That coveted me time that helps restore the soul and make parenting easier isn't always available to single moms. Some get a couple of days alone each week due to custody arrangements, but some have full custody.

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Working and momming full-time is exhausting. Take the kids off her hands and send her for a manicure. Let her go for a run or out for coffee on her own. Trade childcare on weekends so you can both get a much-needed break.

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Remember the holidays:

Holidays can be lonely for single moms, particularly if the kids need to be somewhere else on those special days. Be sure to check in about holiday plans and include your friend when you can.

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6 Ways to Help a Single Mom Friend

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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