When MJ recently found herself divorced and struggling to raise two teens alone, she put out a call to the Circle of Moms community: "How do I get through working, studying and raising two teenagers alone? I’m feeling lost, lonely, sad and overwhelmed," she says. "I guess I’m looking for hope. Has anyone else been through this?"
So what’s the secret sauce that enables single moms to do it all? Here, Circle of Moms members who are the single parents of teens share the choices and priorities they have made to handle life as a "double parent" of teens. Many have had to zero in on what really matters. Here are five insights that will inspire any mom of teens with her own juggle.
1. Set Goals and Prioritize
You’ve got to have a plan in place and go after it at full speed, say Circle of Moms members like Megan B. “You have to set goals for yourself and show your girls that they too can overcome any obstacle in life to achieve what they want. It's a life lesson that can only be taught by example."
Megan recommends that single moms of teens make an extra effort to involve their children in discussing goals, not only to set an example, but to get teens on board and supporting their mom. "Have your daughters help you study or make dinner and this quality time will make them feel like a contributing member of the household, not to mention the benefits of them picking up good study/work habits," she adds.
Staying strong and in control are also key, says Lysa M. "Remember you are the parent," she stresses. "Even good kids will push you every now and then."
2. Sometimes You Have to Sacrifice
With no backup team to lean on, one thing single moms become experts at is sacrificing their own needs to give teens the extras, says Roohi N. "I went through this when my son was 12," she says. "I went back for my MBA and worked and went to school and took care of my son. My ex husband doesn’t give me any support financially and morally with my son. So, I had to take a smaller class load and there were no vacations."
Bobbie H. says the sacrifices are worth it. "I sacrificed greatly putting their needs above my own, I sold a car and took a bus for two years so that I could put a down payment on a house and not pay someone else’s mortgage by renting from them. I packed lunch every day, never eating out so that they could have cute clothes and school supplies and school extras. I had the same coat for four years, same jeans and tops. All mothers sacrifice."
3. Find a Support Network
When Shelly B. found parenting her teen sons as a single mom overwhelming, she sought out a support network for her sons and another one for herself. "Check into a Big Brother program to find strong male role models for your sons," she recommends. "That will help you with the hard stuff of parenting. And ask for help for yourself. You need to find a place to vent and scream or just whine."
4. Make Your Kids Step Up
Money matters can be a huge stumbling block for single moms of teens, especially when expenses like college loom in the near future. Patricia Q. and other moms have learned to share some of that financial responsibility with their children, which they believe will make them more independent and self reliant in the future. "Your kids could babysit, dog walk, dog sit or get creative in helping you out financially a little bit," she says.
5. Take Small Breaks
It’s not practical for single moms of teens to head off on a lengthy vacation to chill out, but you can recharge your batteries. "It'll give you that breath of fresh air you need to keep pushing forward," Megan B. says. "It’s a strategy for all moms. As mothers we often forget about our needs and how important our emotional/physical well being [are]. Go have some coffee with friends or have some 'girl time' with your daughters. A little goes a long way," she adds.
Christy S. suggests escapes as simple as taking a walk down your driveway, or getting some exercise: "When I was a single mom and I felt like I was on overload and never got a break. I walked to the mailbox and the children knew that was mom's alone time. The body thinks and feels healthier when you exercise," she says. "Talk about stress relief."
What tips do you have for raising teens alone?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.