Parenting can be quite an arduous adventure. It is hard enough with a committed partner, but when you are doing it alone, especially in Nigeria, the difficulty rises to a whole new level. It can be tricky, maintaining good mental health, thriving as an individual and nurturing your children in the best possible manner.
There are quite a number of women in the country who are single parents through the death of a spouse, divorce, abandonment or choice. While some of these women often feel like they have got it really rough, or that they are doing just about everything wrong; there are others who are successfully and joyfully raising children by themselves.
Wondering how they are scaling through? Jumia travel, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking portal, shares a few suggestions to help smooth the journey of any single mother in Nigeria.
HAVE A SOLID FINANCIAL BUDGET
A majority of problems faced by single mothers in Nigeria is financially related and most times, it results from improper financial planning. As a single mother, it is essential that you draw up a financial budget per time and stick to it. Calculate how much you earn, what your main expenses are and figure out what is left over for saving and plan accordingly. This ensures that you live according to your means per time and you are do not always run into debt.
PLAN AHEAD FOR EMERGENCIES
Life is full of uncertainties and so it is important that as a single mother you have solid plans for emergencies. Aside from putting money aside for urgent situations, ensure you have you medicine cupboard filled with relevant medication for cases or allergy or infections. Look for emergency babysitting service in your area that can often provide help fairly quickly in situations where you are incapacitated and need care for your child. Also, create an “emergency list” of friends and family members you know you can call on for help in dire situations.
ADJUST YOUR PRIORITIES
A number of single mothers in Nigeria tend to fall into the superwoman trap, assuming they can pull off combining a 9-5 job with house cleaning, cooking meals, and tending to their children’s needs. As a single mother, it is important that they stay realistic about what you can and can’t accomplish in a day and set priorities. Lower your expectations and give yourself time for a break. You do not even have to do everything on your own, free up some personal time by hiring help from time to time.
AVOID “COUPLE ENVY”
This might seem trivial but is a major cause of depression for many single mothers in Nigeria. You are a single parent, things are extra difficult and you most times get lonely; it is normal to feel envious of friends who have kind, involved husbands, men who actually want to be with them and pitch in, but it is important to avoid getting caught up in the illusion that everything would be perfect if you just had a partner.
Remind yourself that everyone has problems, even married people. Constant envy breeds resentment and bitterness, which eventually drains your energy and causes you enough stress to ensure your situation gets even extra difficult.
BUILD A COMMUNITY
Do not be too proud or shy to rely on people around you when you need help or support. Forge a strong community around you, people who can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging – the perfect antidote to the isolation brought on by solo parenting. Even if you are in a city like Abuja where social life is not over active, you can push yourself into social situations, join a church or a club, and attend events in your location.
Do not be afraid to open yourself up to others. Just because you are a single mom, does not mean you or your child should not have other people to go to. Have a diverse social circle and keep a positive outlook on life. If you sit around and play victim to your circumstances things will just keep being difficult for you.
By Nkem Ndem