Whether they choose to procreate and put the right steps in motion or simply find themselves expecting and decide to make a go of it, the single gal is embracing parenthood and relying on her friends and families to make it work. Here are some tips for successful solo parenting.
[tip 1:] Find your support group
Sarah Barber wasn’t surprised when her boyfriend of two years told her that he was bowing out of their unplanned pregnancy. “He didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby. And after going through all the stages of grief, anger and fear, I just came to terms with it and realized that in the long run, I was the one getting the better deal.” What pulled Sarah through her tough time? Her mom and her best friend, Natalie, who held her hand through the sonograms, contractions and first few weeks at home with baby Milo.
While the majority of the people around you will probably be supportive and happy for you when you announce your new addition, there are always those that will be overwhelmingly negative. Prepare yourself for less-than-supportive questions and comments. (“Do you know how much it costs to raise a child?” “I believe that children need two parents in the home.” “Have you really thought this through?”) As a mom-to-be, the best move you can make is to fully embrace your pregnancy and be excited about your impending arrival. If someone is just determined to make your life miserable by pointing out all the negatives, don’t talk to them until they have something positive to say. There’s no rule that says you have to listen to people who aren’t supportive of your decisions, especially if they are making you doubt your abilities as a parent.
[tip 2:] Know what you’re getting into
As a single parent, it falls on you to figure out pretty much everything: maternity leave, childcare options, your insurance plan, doctor’s appointments and anything else that comes up. The best way to successfully handle all this is to get educated. Talk to the HR department at your office about your insurance policy and exactly how long you can take for maternity leave; start saving your sick and personal days, if you can use them as part of your leave (ensuring a little income in your absence); and learn about the Family Medical Leave Act and find out if it is an option for you.If you know that you will need a nice chunk of change to cover your labor and delivery, go ahead and start saving now.
Talk to family and friends for OB or midwife and pediatrician recommendations, and make sure that you settle on someone you’re happy with, in both cases—they will be a big part of your life in the coming months and years. A supportive midwife or OB is essential in any pregnancy, but perhaps even more so in one that is mommy-only. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for what you need, whether it’s financial help or emotional support—you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby.
[tip 3:] Believe in yourself
“I wasn’t sure if I could handle having a baby on my own, but I really wanted to be a mom and I didn’t want to wait on some illusive perfect man to come along and make all my dreams come true,” says single mom Ansleigh Sheppard. “Finally I just decided that I was going to do it, no turning back, and I have never made a better decision in my life.” There are so many reasons for parenting on your own to be intimidating. Ansleigh worried about “money, energy, time, even whether a child would ruin my chances of ever getting married.” It’s easy to question your decision to become a single mom, but try to stay focused on the positive. Instead of thinking about what you might not have, focus on all that you’ll be gaining with the birth of a little person who will love you unconditionally. Children are expensive, time-consuming and exhausting, but have you ever heard a mother say that she wishes she never had children? Probably not. The positives just outweigh the negatives, hands down. Single moms are good moms, too, and don’t ever let anyone tell you any differently.
[tip 4:] Lean on your friends
No one should have to go through pregnancy and childbirth alone. You’ll probably know who you want as your stand-in partner as soon as you see the positive line on your pregnancy test. For a lot of people it’s a mother or a best friend, or maybe a whole group of people who stand behind you and believe in you. Being a single parent doesn’t mean being all alone in the world. It simply means that your family might look a little different than most.
A brother, father or a close friend can be a strong, positive male influence in your family, and your best friend or aunt can serve as an extra surrogate parent who provides your child with love and support. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and the fact that yours is shaping up to be a step away from the norm is something you should teach your child to embrace. Surround him with family and friends that love him, and he’ll feel like the luckiest little guy on the planet.
However you approach single parenting, don’t try to do it all on your own. Reach out and ask for help and allow the people you love the opportunity to get to know and love your child—you’ll be amazed at how good life with kids really is, a steady partner by your side or not.