There’s no way around this, being a single mom in Kenya is a challenge that gives you only 2 options: you either have to make it, or make it. From dealing with prejudices to managing the family income, it can be tough maintaining good mental health or thriving as a woman. Who said it is impossible though?
It may be tough maintaining your sanity as a single mom in Kenya because on one hand, you have a group that considers you the strong alpha you aspire to be. Then there’s the other half of the population that sees you as a desperate husband-snatcher. When it comes to financial support, single mothers in Kenya have it tougher than other countries. The US, for example, has different kinds of government grants for single mothers and aid packages than any nation. In Kenya, you have to clear your head and make the decision of doing it alone.
There are so many challenges but very few solutions so I want to show you how to survive as a single mom in Kenya. There are a number of women who are raising their children successfully and happily alone. Curious how they are scaling through? Here are a few suggestions to help you come out as a proud independent single mother in Kenya.
#1: Build a Strong Community around You
I’ll put this as my first point because it is the most important way to survive as a single mom in Kenya. Don’t be too proud to ask for help or support when you truly need it. I’m talking family, friends, social groups, you name them. You need a strong community of people who can provide both emotional and financial support to help you pull through.
You need a group of people to give you a sense of belonging in a society where solo parenting is still a big deal to the majority. Create a social circle around you, join a club and be an active church member. Attend local events if possible and don’t be afraid to open up to people. Playing victim to your circumstances is a thing of the past and honestly, it’s boring.
#2: Increase Your Income and Slash Your Expenses
It’s not easy finding a full-time job in Kenya but it is not impossible either. If you have what it takes, keep those cold emails coming through. Aside from the 8-5 job, you can also consider a side gig. When I’m not at work from 8-5, I write articles for niche sites. I spend approximately 2-3 hours writing an article and I’m done for the night. There are other ways to make money online in Kenya. You can also be crafty and do something with your skill or hobby.
“If you can do without it, you don’t need it” Find your way around your expenses and do away with all the things you don’t need. If possible, lower your fixed expenses as well. These include moving to a lower cost area and buying groceries at cheaper markets in bulk. A common trend I see in Kenya is having food chamas.
#3: Have a Solid Budget in Place
Most of the problems we face as single mothers in Kenya are due to poor financial planning. Because your family depends on only one income, it is important to draw up a financial budget and stick to it. Unlike the common 10%-rule, handle all the important expenses first. Calculate your monthly income and figure out your main expenses to ensure you live within your means. You can’t afford to run into debt as a single mom so stick to your budget at all times.
#4: Learn to Prioritize
You can’t be the mum and dad at the same time so stop playing super mom all the time and be real. Most single mums fall into this trap assuming they can handle everything. I’m not saying it’s impossible but I prefer staying 100 percent real. If you cannot pull off the 8-5 job, do all the house chores and tend to your child’s needs, it is okay to ask for help. Adjust your priorities, lower all your expectations and take breaks whenever you need them. If you can afford it, hire someone to help around the house.
#5: Avoid Resentment and Bitterness
It may not happen all the time but I know it does. Being a single parent is tough and there may be times when you feel lonely. This is normal. It is equally normal to feel envious of your married friends but don’t let these thoughts rule your life. Everyone has problems. Married or not, you’d still have your share of challenges so don’t let ‘couple envy’ breed resentment and bitterness in your life. Don’t worry about the insecure wives either because you don’t have control over what they can or cannot think.
#6: Ignore the Ingrates
I’ve read so many negative comments about single moms online. I’ve heard a few comments from people I know. To be honest, some of these comments affected me in the past. I let them get in my head and affect my day to day routine. But then I thought to myself, do they really understand what I go through? Do they know my past? No, they don’t.
They can’t understand anything unless they wear my shoes. You’d never hear a person raised by a single mother throwing any negative comment because they experienced how difficult it is to raise kids alone. Only the ingrates who have no idea what single parenting is all about will raise their voice and air negative comments. Don’t let such comments affect your life unless they know what you go through.
#7: Have an Emergency Plan
You can never be sure about tomorrow so it is important to have a solid plan in place for emergencies. This means you should always put money aside for the dry months. You equally need a list of family or friends you can contact in case of an emergency. Ensure you have relevant medication for allergies or infections and an emergency babysitter who can take care of your child in urgent situations.
#8: Remember what’s Good About Being a Single Mom
How long will you worry about not doing a good job? So, what if you are parenting alone? Think about it this way, your kids will have a strong and independent mom to look up to. Isn’t it amazing? Besides, you don’t have anyone around to argue with or negotiate how to use your hard-earned cash.
#9: Have Some ‘Me Time’ Without Feeling Guilty
Everyone deserves this and so do you. I do this at least once every month. Go out, have a long lunch somewhere you wouldn’t go with your kids. Aside from lunch, you can have an afternoon of manicure and pedicure. You’ll be a better mom after this so try it.
#10: It’s Okay to Cry
You’ve been up and about the whole day. A lot has happened during the day and you’re slowly wearing off. You feel upset but you still need to show your little ones how strong you are. Lock yourself in your room and cry because this may be the release you need to do things better.
Pull yourself together because you still have somebody who thinks the world of you. Our young ones are too special to let down so take some time, let it out and move on. If it doesn’t work, pick up your phone, call someone you trust and vent.