Single Working Mothers: Finding the Time to Tackle it All

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.


Finding time for family and career can be difficult for single, working mothers.

Balance is the key to being a successful working single mother.

Single mothers, I salute you.

I understand where you are coming from, because I was a single mother for 10 years.

Not every woman is faced with the challenge of raising children with no partner while also being the sole income provider for the household and many of the single career mothers that I have met through the years are some of the biggest inspirations for, I think, just about any woman trying to find balance in her life. Of course, I’m sure at some point, they’ve experienced work or family overload and crashed, but they’ve recovered and found a balance that I think some women never achieve.

What are your priorities?
As with many single mothers (and mothers in general), their children will always be their top priority and no corner office or vacation home can compete with them. So, it’s important to set your next tier of priorities, whether it is career advancement or stability. These are the goals that are still very important, but will never trump family.

Sacrifice? NEVER!
When you give a little on your priorities, it becomes easier to give a little more and then a little more, until you’ve sacrificed your priorities for a job that isn’t at all what you wanted in the first place. Whether you’re
sacrificing ethics or opportunities, it’s never a good time to start.

Oh, yes – we love compromise.
How can I say this when I just said never sacrifice? Simple. Compromise is not the same as sacrifice. Sacrificing something means giving it up. Compromise means meeting someone else halfway. I think any mother has experienced bargaining with her children to meet them halfway. It’s no different in the corporate world. Being able to meet someone halfway always keeps doors open.

Repeat after me: My calendar is sacred!
If you don’t already, start keeping a schedule on your calendar. Single mothers have to juggle so much in a given day that syncing with iCal or google calendars is a necessity and, honestly, it should be for everyone. Don’t simply rely on that “steel trap” to remember every detail of your day.

Always leave room for flexibility. If you can’t “go with the flow” as a single mom, you’re likely to have a nervous breakdown very quickly. Life is good at throwing curveballs your way, whether it’s your job or work, and you have to be able to work with them.


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