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Parenting is quite a challenging adventure. It is hard enough even with a committed partner, but when you are doing it alone, especially in Nigeria, it’s very easy for the difficulty to be magnified. It can be overwhelming: maintaining good mental health, thriving as an individual and raising your children in the best possible manner.

Life as a single mother could be as a result of choice, abandonmen, or divorce/separation as it is common that when there is a separation or divorce between spouses, mothers are often saddled with the responsibility of being the primary caregivers for the children.

Single mothers face a variety of some of these challenges:

Loneliness

Life could be miserable for a single mother especially if she lives alone with her kids. She absorbs all the pressures of life and does not have any adult at home to relate with. Most single mothers always have to look for a member of her family to live with her and take care of the children. For those who have people living with them, they are still traumatized by the experiences they had with their spouse or partner. They feel rejected and abandoned and try as much as possible to get it off their mind. Some go to the extent of consciously taking life threatening drugs.

Playing Multiple Roles in Raising the Child

Many single moms have to devise all means to play the role of a father as well as a mother to their children. Being the primary caregiver often involve “mutating” into multiple support systems and personalities for the child. From developmental assistance to daily school runs, to recreation, to psychological health and growth, to social and life lessons, to morals and values, to emotional support, the single mother is more or less responsible for these.

Paying bills

Single mothers can be shortchanged when it comes to earning capacity and meaningful employment. Due to their already over-tasked responsibility of childcare, getting well-paid full-time employment might be an arduous task. Those who have no meaningful source of income often think of abandoning their children or consider getting foster homes where their kids could be raised while they complete their education or look for jobs to take care of themselves.

Rejection by the family

In most African communities, single mothers are faced with the rejection and isolation from their family. Ladies who get pregnant while they are still living with their parents often deal with all sorts of provocation and insult from parents and other family members. Mothers who were abandoned by their spouses are seen as women who were not submissive to their husbands without making inquiries about the circumstances these women have had to deal with.

Healthcare

Nursing a sick child can be quite tormenting for a single mother. She needs to consistently wake up at night to check her child and administer drugs. In extreme cases where a child is admitted to a hospital, they need to take permission from work to nurse the child until he/she recovers.

Inspite of these challenges, a percentage of single mothers still turn out tops on the parenting metre and have a good quality of life. Here are some survival tips, as suggested by Nkem Ndem, in Jumia Travel, to help create balance:

Have a Solid Financial Budget

A majority of problems faced by single mothers in Nigeria is financially related and most times, it results from improper financial planning. As a single mother, it is essential that you draw up a financial budget per time and stick to it. Calculate how much you earn, what your main expenses are and figure out what is left over for saving and plan accordingly. This ensures that you live according to your means per time and you are do not always run into debt.

Plan Ahead for Emergencies

Life is full of uncertainties and so it is important that as a single mother you have solid plans for emergencies. Aside from putting money aside for urgent situations, ensure you have you medicine cupboard filled with relevant medication for cases or allergy or infections. Look for emergency babysitting service in your area that can often provide help fairly quickly in situations where you are incapacitated and need care for your child. Also, create an “emergency list” of friends and family members you know you can call on for help in dire situations.

Adjust Your Priorities

A number of single mothers in Nigeria tend to fall into the superwoman trap, assuming they can pull off combining a 9-5 job with house cleaning, cooking meals, and tending to their children’s needs. As a single mother, it is important that you stay realistic about what you can and can’t accomplish in a day and set priorities. Lower your expectations and give yourself time for a break. You do not even have to do everything on your own, free up some personal time by hiring or soliciting for help from time to time.

Avoid “Couple Envy”

This might seem trivial but is a major cause of depression for many single mothers in Nigeria. You are a single parent, things are extra difficult and you most times get lonely; it is normal to feel envious of friends who have kind, involved husbands, men who actually want to be with them and pitch in, but it is important to avoid getting caught up in the illusion that everything would be perfect if you just had a partner. Remind yourself that everyone has problems, even married people. Constant envy breeds resentment and bitterness, which eventually drains your energy and causes you enough stress to ensure your situation gets even extra difficult.

This does not mean that you push away or completely kill the chance of getting a chance at a responsive and committed partner for love, companionship or co-parenting.

Build a Community

Do not be too proud or shy to rely on people around you when you need help or support. Forge a strong community around you, people who can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging – the perfect antidote to the isolation brought on by solo parenting. Even if you are in a city like Abuja where social life is not over active, you can push yourself into social situations, join a church or a club, and attend events in your location. Do not be afraid to open yourself up to others. Just because you are a single mom, does not mean you or your child should not have other people to go to. Have a diverse social circle and keep a positive outlook on life. If you sit around and play victim to your circumstances things will just keep being difficult for you.

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