Single Minded Moms: Seven Ways to Prepare for “Baby and Me”
By Cheryl M. Wenzel-Nelson, M.A
Becoming a mother for the first time is never easy, but it can be even more overwhelming when you are swinging it on your own as a single mom.
Check out these seven steps that will arm you with cold hard facts and resources to help you prepare ahead of time for your “life after baby,” poopy diapers, bottle feedings and all! Here’s your “Preparing For a New Baby” checklist!
Being prepared for your new life as a single mother will pump up your confidence level and imbue you with a a greater sense of control over your new life’s adventure. But most importantly it will leave you with plenty of time to shower your bouncing baby with kisses and make your life’s shift into all baby all the time–almost– worth it!
1. Build a “Momtourage”
As the old African adage says: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Your momtourage will be those people who support you when you become a single mother. Make a list of those people who have offered to help you after the birth and call on them when you need help. Join a local mom’s club, and connect with other single moms. There are online mommy communities, as well, like CafeMom and National Organization of Single Mothers, for those times when you can’t leave the house. And there will be many of those times!
2. Network Within Your Community
Bob Lancer, parenting expert and author of the website Parenting for the Planet, recommends hooking up with others in your community to find mentors for your child, especially for sons whose fathers are not involved in their lives.
“You will be surprised at how ready, willing, and able some guys are to baby sit, and to join you in outings with the understanding that they are there to connect with your child.” Some places to try are Big Brothers, Big Sisters, YMCA, and YWCA.
3. Welcome Paternal Relatives Into Your Child’s Life
Children need relationships with loving relatives from both sides of their families. As Deborah Smith, President of Parents With Nannies Inc., says, “Children can never have too many people who love them or too many people to love in their lives!”
Geri Wilson, a single mom for 18 years, made it a point to include the father of her son’s extended family in his life, even when his father wasn’t involved. “Even if it hurts you, do it. They’re the child’s family.”
4. Plan for Your Needs, As Well As Your Baby’s
It is common for moms to focus entirely on their babies, often at the expense of themselves. But single moms have important needs, too, such as sleep, nutritional meals, and socializing. Lancer says self-care is crucial for single mothers. “You cannot truly help your child when you are feeling drained, strained and overtaxed,” says Lancer.
Your momtourage can help you take care of yourself by bringing you healthy meals, babysitting, and doing chores so you can focus on your baby.”
5. Learn As Much As You Can About Newborns
The first couple of months after the birth of your baby will be a whirlwind of learning, making mistakes, and learning some more. Pregnant women typically focus on their pregnancy, and don’t think about what happens after the birth. Ideally, your own mother, a doula, or a nanny will teach you how to care for your new baby.
If you don’t have the luxury of relying on one of these resources, don’t depair! There are online resources available to help you, such as BabyCenter.com, magazines like Mothering and BabyTalk, and newborn classes at your hospital. Take advantage of these. The more you understand your newborn, the less overwhelmed you will feel.
6. Get Organized!
You are about to embark on the biggest adventure of your life! The more organized you are, the less chaotic things will feel. Take the time now to make any necessary house repairs, stock up on baby supplies, and prepare your baby’s room. Also, make sure you have reliable transportation, a steady income, and a sitter or daycare lined up for when you return to work.
7. Plan for Your Financial Future
As the single head of the household, you may have to make big changes in your lifestyle, such as moving to a smaller house and being a bit more creative about the way you spend money; learning how to stretch every dollar as far as it can go!
Jennifer, a single mom of six years struggled to make ends meet and says yard sales became her “best friend!” Jane Bennett Clark, Senior Associate Editor at Kiplinger Finance Magazine, recommends finding affordable housing, lining up health insurance, drawing up a budget, and increasing your earning power.
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