If you have a single mum friend in your life, even the smallest of gestures can mean the difference between a great day and a day where she feels like she’s completely falling apart. If you see she’s struggling or even if you want to do something to show her you’re there for her, here are my 9 ways to help your single mum friend:
1. Offer to go places with her
We all want to take our kids to fun places and away on day trips; to a soft play adventure place, a theme park, the beach, the cinema, special trips at holiday times like Easter egg hunts or going to see Santa.
But when you’re a single parent it can be hard to do these things on your own, daunting even, not to mention stressful – the planning, the preparation, the travel there and back, keeping tabs on the kids while you’re there, running around with them, keeping them entertained, the food breaks, the toilet trips…. Even a simple trip to the park, darting around after them, climbing up to rescue them from the big tower they reached the top of but are too scared to get back down from, lifting them up and down, on and off climbing frames and catching them mid way down the fireman’s poles they threw themselves down can all leave you exhausted.
Having another adult takes a little bit of the strain off. Not only that but having another adult to share the experiences with is nice. Offer to go with them on a Christmas day trip to meet Santa or have fun at a theme park. Pack a picnic and a bucket and spade and head off for a sunny day at the beach. They’ll love the company and the extra pair of hands.
2. Go around for a coffee
You don’t have to go out anywhere. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone visit us at home for some company. Adult company! An hour of adult conversation can go a long way and offers very much needed time out from the conversations with a 2-year-old about poop. It breaks up the days and takes away the loneliness at nights. Chatting with your friends can really brighten up your day. Be a trustworthy friend who your single mum friend can confide in. Just listening is a huge gift you can give her. Bringing cakes also helps.
If you can’t make it round to her house, give her a phone or send her a message. Let her know you’re there. Single mums can often feel isolated, especially at night once the kids are in bed. A simple text here and there, a chat about how things are going, even talking about nothing in particular can provide that feeling of connection to other people, outside of the four walls we’re sitting in alone every night.
3. Invite her out
OK, so sometimes a coffee in the house just doesn’t cut it.
Now, she might not always be able to go out or want to go out for that matter but it’s nice to know the offer’s there. Sometimes we really really want to go out but our lives feel so completely different that we’ve forgotten how to ‘go out and have fun’. At night. To an adult place. In heels. With a bra on. Someplace where fun isn’t considered bouncing around soft play and ball pits and your drink of choice isn’t served a directly from a carton with a straw – although, add some alcoholic beverages and wouldn’t that be one hell of a night out!?
So, give her a call, tell her to find a babysitter, change out of the leggings, brush her hair and drag her over-stressed, tired mum ass out for a girl’s night! Relive the times you used to have together. Give her a chance to not be a mum for a while. And give you both a chance to reconnect over a bottle or 3 of Prosecco.
4. Offer to babysit
It doesn’t have to be for an entire day or over-night. Offer to take the kids to the park for a while. Watch them for her while she goes for a shower or out somewhere alone. That break will be so much appreciated.
I have things piling up that I need to do, like tiling the bathroom floor, cleaning, going to a craft shop but I can’t do a lot of those things while Aiden is around. Aiden in a craft shop will only equal disaster, not to mention trying to reach for the Stanley knife when I attempted the bathroom floor while he was home! Offer her time to herself where she can have a bit of a rest or get on with things in peace. Even 30 minutes can make the world of difference when she’s on the go 24/7.
5. Box up leftovers and put them in her freezer
If you’ve just cooked a meal and have leftovers, think about putting them in a tub and taking it round to her. If she doesn’t want to have it there and then, then pop it in her freezer for a night that she’s too exhausted to cook. She’ll love the thought and, be honest, someone else’s cooking always tastes better, at least it does when you cook like me.
6. Share your kids’ hand-me-downs
Be tactful, gently inquire as to whether she would be interested in seeing some of the things you’ve set aside before you donate them to a charity shop. When you live on a single parent budget, every little helps and with the rate they grow, keeping them in clothes can be expensive!
A few of my friends did this for me when I was pregnant and I ended up with the whole first year Aiden was here with no clothes needing to be bought. Two years on one of my friends continues to drop off bags of clothes. It’s not only saved me time and effort to keep up with his rapid growth spurts, but the money it’s saved has come in so handy.
7. Remember Mother’s Day
When you’re a single mum, there’s most often no daddy around to buy a Mother’s Day card or a present to say it’s from the kids. One of the best gifts I have ever had was from a friend on my first Mother’s Day. Without her, it would have gone completely unrecognised and felt really sad.
She took Aiden out in his pram, bought a card, a cup that said, ‘world’s best mum on it’ (and it was a huge cup, perfect for that extra big coffee I’d need after a 4 hour at best sleep the night before) and chocolate because, well, she knows me. I had no idea she was going to do it and I got quite emotional when I realised how much thought she’d put into it. This was one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received and meant more to me than I could even put into words.
8. Don’t forget she’s still the same person
Yes, she might be a bit different now than how she was before she became a mum. Yes, she might have different priorities now. She might not shower every day anymore and she might look like an extra from the Walking Dead a lot of the time. But she’s still the same person.You can still talk about the same things. You can still laugh about the same things.
So, don’t treat her any different. Understand that her lifestyle might have changed to in someways but she’s still the same friend. As wrapped up in her own life filled with nappies, poop and sleep routines as she is, her friends will still be important to her, even if she doesn’t always show it.
9. Above all else, don’t give up on her
When we become mums, we can lose ourselves along the way. We forget what it’s like to put on nice clothes that don’t have food stains on them or stink of baby milk. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to put on make-up, do our hair and go out when it’s dark. Sometimes we’ve gotten so used to taking care of a little person and not ourselves. We can lose confidence and become withdrawn. We get stuck in a rut. We can seem pre-occupied and wrapped up in our own problems. It might seem like we don’t have time for you and that we’re always complaining about our lives as mums. We might not be much fun to be around and we might be neglecting our friendships.
But don’t give up on her. Bear with her. She doesn’t mean to be this shit, she’s just got a lot going on and has most likely got caught up in it all and is struggling to get back on track. She will come out of it. Things will settle down again, she will have more time and more energy to focus on the friends in her life as well as her child and she will reach out and be a better friend.
My friends have stuck with me and they don’t bat an eyelid when they turn up at 7pm and I look like I’ve been awake for 3 days and haven’t showered for 4, wearing a food (chocolate) strained jumper, no bra and my house looks like it’s been ransacked. They just laugh and say, “I brought cakes!” That’s true friendship for you!
Have you explored the Single Mummy Life section? There’s lots more posts about single mum life and well being.
What is the most thoughtful thing your friend has done for you since you became a mum? Leave a comment below.
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