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  • Writer's pictureLayne Philipson

6 Things I Learned in the First 6 Months of Being a Single Mom

Becoming a single mom is a journey filled with challenges, joys, and countless learning opportunities. From navigating daily tasks solo to juggling work and parenting responsibilities, the experience of raising a child alone can be both rewarding and demanding. Throughout my own journey as a single mother, I've gained invaluable insights that have shaped my perspective and enriched my life.

The first six months of my child's life were eye-opening, exhausting, amazing but terrible, and terrible but amazing. As a single mom with absolutely no experience with children before my son was born, I was terrified and overwhelmed to say the least. Here are six lessons I learned from those six months, which I hope you can connect with them if you are entering your own first six months as a single parent.

Flexibility is key.

I love quotes. I am not sure why, but they speak to me. Here is one that roughly echoes what Mr. Charles Darwin wanted humankind to know: "It is not the strongest nor the smartest species that survives, but the one most adaptable to change." Intense? Yeah, and I am not talking about actual life or death here, but opening myself to change early, before my baby even came out, was a challenging but necessary task.

Now, I am very set in my ways and my pre-baby routine involved me going to bed when I wanted, waking up when I wanted, doing what I wanted when I wanted, and being with who I wanted wherever I wanted. The concept of what "I wanted" quickly diminished as I got going in my mom journey. (Don't worry, this blog will give all sorts of tips on how to maintain your independence and self-care in your single mom journey). But, at the end of the day, adjusting to the mom life hinged on my ability to adjust to change.

It's okay to miss your old life, badly.

I'd like to blame it on the postpartum hormones, but the grief I experienced after I had my baby was one of the most intense and certainly unexpected feelings I went through in my first six months as a mom. And that's okay. It is extremely overwhelming when you are responsible for a human and do not have the other half around like "normal" families do. Everything I mentioned in the flexibility section, about how my independent 20-something self had so much freedom, left a hole in my heart. I know that might sound dramatic, but those first months postpartum are catapulted you into a new life before you know what happened.

I guess that's why being able to adjust to change is so important. Thanks Charles!

Asking for help is critical.

I despise asking for help, not to be dramatic. I always thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness and showed that I didn't actually have my life together like I wanted to project to others. I didn't grow up with a bunch of friends and family around to help me through my problems, and my parents really instilled a sense of independence in me from a young age. Independence is amazing, but it can be easy to teeter over to the side of being overly prideful and resistant to help. I always knew that about myself, but oh man, having a baby as a single mom actually forced me to turn to others. My mom is my best friend and an amazing grandma, and she helped me so much more than I could have expected anyone to help anyone with anything.

I won't say I thrived at asking for help from people other than my mom. With friends, I really tried to put up the "I have it all together and this whole thing is actually really easy" front. I really wish I didn't do that because it was not only pointless, but also pushed me away from my friends. I can only hope that this hindsight is still valuable to you, and emphasize my lesson learned on this one!

Take pictures.

I am not just talking about going from 442 pictures in my phone to over 11,000 in six months. I am talking about pictures of your baby AND YOU. Together. In the same picture. Oh my goodness, if I could count the amount of photos I jumped from because I didn't want to see my body, my baby and I could live in a house of the world's finest cheeses. Or something like that. This point is super simple: get over it, and get in those pictures.

Well, I say "get over it" mostly to hammer home the point. It can be really hard if you have issues with your body - I totally get it. That's why I had almost no pictures with my son during this time! I can do a post on how to deal with the picture thing more in-depth, but really - just get in the pictures. You don't have to look at them right away, in a year, or ever. But it would really be great to have the option to do so.

Guilt is natural, but a waste of time.

I know you can't control your feelings, but I was so worried about feeling guilty for missing my own life, for not having stayed in a toxic relationship to keep up the look of a perfect family, for not being the perfect mom, that I almost lost my mind. I truly feel like I spent more time feeling guilty for feeling guilty than I did actually feeling guilty for the original feeling, if that makes sense.

Instead of focusing on what I didn't have or what I couldn't do, I focused on all the things I could control. I could give my baby all the snuggles, a safe and warm home, and endless love that I could. I focused on gratitude for the ability to have a child, as others struggle with infertility. I focused on how the almost shock I was going through would prepare a solid foundation for my parenting skills in the future. I focused on using what I could control to maximize my interactions with my baby, my family, and myself.


Keep it simple, sweetie.

You do not have to go to every mommy and me thing there is, let alone any of them. Don't worry about having a Pinterest perfect nursery, photoshoots, welcome home parties, any of it. You don't don't don't. Don't fixate on those newborn shoes, bowties, and khakis! I seriously thought "I'm not like other moms, I'm a cool mom," in the way that my son would always be dressed to the nines anywhere we went. Well, he still looked nice when we went places, but let's just say I had to buy about 20 plain white onesies the day I got home from the hospital. Make room, pastel polos and boat shoes!

Do what you need to do, what you want to do, on these fronts as everyone has different priorities. I just know a lot of stress left my body when I stopped thinking about what the Momtok moms would think and instead starting thinking about me and my son.

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