Being a single mom or raising a child on your own can be stressful, especially in Nigeria.
You have sole responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day child care. And without a partner, the stakes are higher as you experience added pressure, stress and fatigue.
There is also the fact that you have to juggle work and child care, which can be financially difficult and socially isolating. Actually, getting a job or even having a social life can be very difficult. Indeed, the “single mom” status can actually act as a deterrent to would-be employers, would-be friends, and would-be dates alike.
Quite a number of women in the country are single parents through the death of a spouse, divorce, abandonment or choice. While some of these women often feel like they have got it really rough; or that they are doing just about everything wrong; there are others who are successfully and joyfully raising children by themselves. To reduce stress in your single mom family, there are a few things you can do.
First, create a routine. Structure — such as regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes — helps you stay organized and prepare for emergencies. Life is full of uncertainties and so it is important that as a single mom, you have solid plans for emergencies.
Aside from putting money aside for urgent situations; ensure you have your medicine cupboard filled with relevant medication for cases of allergy or infections. Look for emergency babysitting service in your area that can often provide help fairly quickly. This is especially in situations where you are incapacitated and need care for your child. Also, create an “emergency list” of friends and family members you can call on for help in dire situations.
Next, ensure you have a solid financial budget. A majority of problems faced by single mothers in Nigeria are financially related and most times; it results from improper financial planning. As a single mom, 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 do not always run into debt.
In a situation where you feel lost or unable to do things on your own; allow yourself to lean on others. 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. This is often 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 very 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.
Another thing you have to do is 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 mom, it is important that you stay realistic about what you can do; 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 help from time to time.
Finally, and most important… First, take care of yourself. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. Arrange a time to do activities you enjoy alone or with friends. Give yourself a “timeout” by arranging for child care at least a few hours a week.
Can you think of other practical ways to cope with the stress of being a single mom in Nigeria?