How to Build Your Life from Zero as a Single Mom

(Post previously published in 2018)

I’m rebuilding my life in a different town away from home and I still have the chills two months down the line. I mean, I’m used to having my family next to me but now they are all six hours away. It’s tough and I hate being the ‘new mom on the block’.

My neighbors still look at me like I just landed from Mars. I’m trying to make new friends but either my neighbors are not friendly or I’m not doing it right. To hell with all those who respond coldly to my greetings.

I’ve decided to do things differently and I’m not going to give a crap to anyone who doesn’t want to make friends. I won’t let their reactions limit my experience.

It’s hard adjusting to a new town, let alone the neighborhood. I have to change hospitals and petty things like supermarkets and my hangouts. My son has to adjust to a new school.

Speaking of my son, he is extremely terrified of his new school. He is worried about making new friends and changing teachers. Sadly, I understand him, but it’s been hard trying to help him adjust when I’m having a hard time myself.

I know I’m not alone. Rebuilding your life as a single mom is tough especially when you have to start from zero and you have to buy everything.

Lucky you if you managed to get something from your separation or divorce. This is not my situation though.

While there are some disadvantages to building a new life, there are so many advantages that come with it.

For one, it is easy to pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams and start a new life. Heck! No one knows you here and a few people care about where you came from, what you do and who you live with. (This is how you know you are living in KENYA!)

You have the opportunity (a second opportunity for that matter) to become an independent woman and mother. Don’t screw it up this time.

Well, while this may be tough, but building a new life gives you the chance to have a new network base. Hopefully, you don’t bring back into your circle the crappy friends who put you down.

Don’t forget that you have a kid/kids to take care of so the only thing you need right now is your self-esteem. I have mine way above 100 percent (J I can work with 80 percent though) and I’m trying hard to keep away all the negative energy. It’s not easy I must confess.

Solo parenting is tough and you need a boost of confidence to make things work. You already made the decision to move, so thumbs up mama! Now do away with the anger, pick your beautiful self up, shake off the dust and have the courage to face your fears.

I’m talking to you mom who is having a hard time moving on. You are not doing justice to yourself (and your kids) holding on to things that are not WORTH IT.

No one can put you down unless you allow it

What Do You Love About Yourself?

Self Love is the key. It helps build confidence so stop making that list in your head and write it down. It doesn’t matter how small your achievement is, write it down.

Even if you choose therapy over my article, they’ll still tell you that writing down things you love about yourself helps validate yourself as a unique personality with potential.

Don’t believe me? Check this out

I took the liberty to gather some resourceful information that should help you:

One Exercise Sure to Make You Feel Better About Yourself

Can’t afford to pay for therapy? Here’s How to do Therapy on Yourself

8 Steps to Like Yourself (More)

Okay, so now that this is out of the way, another method I use to keep my mind busy and distract myself from the thought of having a few unwelcoming neighbors is:

Learning a New Skill

You don’t have to do it my way; instead, you can think of a new hobby or pursue a different interest. Since I moved here a few months ago I’ve been learning a lot about being a virtual assistant. I’m particularly interested in being a virtual assistant for therapists given that I have some background in Counseling Psychology and I LOVE writing.

You can do something different like learning how to bake or training on article writing. You can even take some driving classes. My point is keep your mind busy with things that can help you grow instead of focusing on things that pull you down.

Then there is this easy method you can use to make new friends

To hell with your neighbors (oops!) if they are unwelcoming like mine. I won’t force it. I’ll wait and see if they will say ‘Hi’ to me one day. For now, they’ll only see visitors walking in and out of my house like I’ve been living in this town for years.

That’s the beauty of social media! You can easily make new friends who share the same interest as you. I want to have as many single mom friends as I can. They may understand my experiences more than my family.

Facebook Group Kenyan Single Mothers Club has a large base. All you have to do is add a post and ask anyone within your location to connect if they want to make a new friend. Try it on any group. You’ll be amazed at the contacts you get.

Pray Big Time

Stop thinking that you can do everything alone! You are not alone even if it feels like it. You can always turn to prayers and reflection to understand yourself and build a new life. Pray every day, pray every time. Read the Bible every time, it will give you enough consolation.

Not sure where to start? Look up these verses and reflect how it relates to your life.

  • Psalms 130:5
  • Nahum 1:13
  • Romans 8:17
  • Proverbs 14:10
  • Galatians 5:19-23
  • Ecclesiastes 7:14
  • Mark 11:25
  • Ephesians 1:11
  • Matthew 6:25-34

I could go on and on because when it comes to the Bible, you can never get enough.

From Zero to Super Mom

At times I get frustrated when I don’t find what I’m looking for on the internet. Before taking this bold step, I scoured the internet to find success stories of single moms who actually managed solo parenting when they had nothing to support themselves. I only landed articles that give tips on thriving as a single mom. Don’t get me wrong, they are all good, but they didn’t touch on my current situation.

Then I realized I was doing it all wrong. You will never find all the answers on the internet. Ask around and you will hear success stories that will make your situation look like nothing.

I even forgot about my mom and how she started her life after my dad passed away. Damn! That was a hell of a journey! I was only 8 and I could feel her pain. Two years without a job and an extra year trying to adjust to a new town.

So picking a few tips from her, and some from my experience:

Leave the Kids Behind

If you don’t have school-going children, then don’t feel bad leaving them with your family as you start out. I know, it is heartbreaking at first, but with time, things will go back to normal.

If you can’t afford to provide for them as you start out, it is okay to ask your parents to help you out. For me, my sons are my handbags, but this is just because my oldest son is already in school plus my mom and sister go to work every day. I’d leave them behind if I had the choice, but thank God I can afford to put something in their stomachs.

Ask Your Family to Get You through the First Few Months

Budgeting becomes hard when you barely have enough to push you through. Sadly, this is the situation for most single moms. You made the decision to move because you want to build a new life. This means that you have to look for a job and ways to make money.

Before your first paycheck comes in, why not make a call to your parents and ask them to help you through the first month?

I was lucky enough because I make money online. My laptop is my office so it goes wherever I go. Then I have a very supportive family. My mother was on her annual leave at the time so she helped me move. Honestly, it felt like high school all over again. She bought all the essentials, spent a few weeks with us then traveled back home when she was sure we were okay (I doubt if she thinks we are okayJ). This saved me some thousands and I had to focus more on finding a good school for my son.

I know a single mom who started the same way. For her, she had a whole village behind her back! Literally! One person chips in with a bed, another relative offers to buy the sofa set, and a few friends throw in their support with kitchen appliances and food. If you have a support network, turn to them.

Reduce your Spending

Now that you have a few things to start out, it is time to make a budget. You want to save as much as you can to buy the necessary household items if you don’t have a village behind your back like my friend. A single mother’s must-have items in the house include:

  • Food
  • Clothes (not a household item, but very important)
  • Rent (again, not a household item but important)
  • Television (Heck, yeah! You need something to keep your kids busy as you work. 100 percent necessary for the work-at-home mom)

Here is a full list if you want to learn how to create a single mom’s budget. Forget about all the articles that ask you to save first. A single mom’s budget is about being realistic. I mean why strain and save 10% then pull the money out to buy groceries?

You need a workable budget; a single mom’s budget. It’s only reasonable because you are all surviving on one income and you don’t have the luxury of asking your spouse to pay the rent and school fees while you handle groceries.

While we are still on the topic of budgeting:

Do away with things you can live without. Will your life end if you don’t eat out like other moms? Hell No! So ditch it and carry food to work.

Look for cheap but better alternatives to essential things you need. Second-hand clothes are a thriving business in Kenya so must you order your dress from Jumia at the moment? No.

Downgrade your living situation and look for creative ways to save money.

Concentrate on Making More Money

Much as you want to cut costs and live the frugal lifestyle as you start out, this is not how you should live your whole life. Do your best to make sure your income is greater than your expense.

Focus your energy toward finding a better job. You can also look for alternative ways to make money through a side hustle or if you have enough capital, start a business.

Stay Positive

You will never get far if you sit around and play victim to your circumstances. Your outlook on life determines your outcome. Choose to be happy and decide that you are going to make it as a single mom. Oh! And everything takes time so don’t expect some miracle to happen overnight unless you land a dinner with the President.

There will be tough days and it is up to you how you respond to these moments. For me, I turn to my Bible and ask Jesus to take the wheel. I don’t know about you; these are just some of the ways I chose to build a new life as a single mom. What’s your secret?