What Are The Hardest Things About Being A Single Mother?

Since I started writing about single motherhood, I’ve always tried to focus on the positive side of raising children alone. One of the toughest things about being a single parent is dealing with the stigma and shame attached to the label, so I have tried to be a small part in the changing narrative surrounding single motherhood, to normalise one-parent families and give hope to those going through a tough time that it can be magical, as well as hard. But there’s no denying that it is. Hard. So this post is all about the toughest things about being a single mum.

The Hardest Things About Single Motherhood


Let’s start with that aforementioned stigma. This is often dependent on how you enter single motherhood, but many new single mothers feel an enormous amount of shame in the early months and even years of single motherhood. If you’re becoming a single mum after a separation or divorce, there is separate shame attached to this. Single mothers are often poorly represented in the media, and before you’ve even had a chance to experience any of the hardships attached to single motherhood, the highs and lows, the challenges and successes, many of us start with the burden that the label ‘single mother’ carries. And it can be heavy. And when it feels like your whole life has been turned upside down, it’s one too many things to bear. 

Financial Strain

The stigma may be hard, but it can be overcome (and turned into pride) with time, connecting with like minded single parents, and being aware of your personal achievements as you hit them. But finances are a little trickier to think your way around or grow into. Statistically, single parents are not faring well economically. This part of the stereotypical depiction of single mums is true, though, in my experience, the non-working, single mum living off the state, is a lot less true. Single mothers are, across the board, the most hard-working, tenacious group of women in my life. But making the numbers add up, when it comes to supporting a family on one income, especially when you factor in the gender pay gap, limited access to affordable childcare and flexible working, can feel impossible. As the cost of living continues to rise, it becomes harder and harder to cover costs and make progress, and saving for the future (your own and your children’s) can feel impossible. 

There’s a whole chapter on finances and managing your money as a single parent in How To Be A Happy Single Parent

These articles can also help: 


Single parenting can feel like a bit of a misnomer because you’re rarely alone when you’re in sole charge of the kids. However, feeling alone is another story. Parenting is a tough gig. It is a job laden with stress, physical, mental and emotional labour. Doing it alone, without someone to help you make tough decisions, share the load, answer the middle of the night cries, the request for yet another snack, to PICK UP THE SOCKS, can feel incredibly isolating. When you’re at home with the kids in the evenings after they go to bed, it can feel as if you’re trapped in your house on your own, while everyone else has the freedom to leave any time they want. In the early days it can feel like this will never change. When something goes wrong at home, when you hit a milestone or a calendar occasion like Mother’s Day or a birthday, and you have nobody to make an effort for you (or to organise the kids to fuss over you), it can be tough. 

However lonely you feel, remember you’re not alone. Connect with other single mums & dads feeling exactly the way you are on the Frolo app


Have you ever met a mother, single or not, that isn’t a bit frazzled? (Can I have her number and her secrets?) Single mothers have twice the responsibilities and often half the resources. Trying to keep all the balls in the air, finances managed, schedules running smoothly, work commitments in hand, house running smoothly, children healthy and happy: it’s a lot. If you can’t find time to rest and recharge, you risk burnout, which is incredibly hard to recover from. Ensuring you have as many things running at low-capacity so they require as little input from you as possible will help. Prioritising to-do lists with essential, necessary but not urgent, can wait, and low priority, will help you make sure nothing vital gets missed. As long as everyone has clean underwear, the laundry can wait until tomorrow. 


The aforementioned stress and strain of life as a single mother means that you can often feel that you’re underperforming in all areas of life. Doing the bare minimum to get by and only ticking off the highest priority tasks means that you most likely feel like you should be doing better. This might be easy to get over when it comes to living in a slightly messy home, or missing the occasional work deadline, but it’s harder to come to terms with when it comes to parenting. A study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10340295/  titled “Influence of Parenting Guilt on the Mental Health among Single-Parent Women: Multiple Additive Moderating Effect of Economic Well-Being and Level of Education” found that single mothers reported high levels of mental health distress, with an average score of 2.98 on the mental health scale used in the study, indicating significant mental health challenges. Parenting guilt was found to be a strong predictor of poor mental health outcomes like depression among single mothers. Learning to overcome single mum guilt is essential, which you can only do through the practice of self compassion. Seek mental health support if you need it, and seek connection with those going through the same thing. 

Read my article to dealing with single parent guilt 


Have you ever tried to solo parent with a severe vomiting bug? How about parenting a child with a vomiting bug, while also wiped out with the bug yourself? Single parenting while ill, without support, is almost impossible. It is a stark reminder that no person is an island, we all need support. Find your village, and figure out who can be there for you when you need them. Because you will. 

Featured image: by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

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