Co-Parenting, Friendship, Mom Life, Parenting, Single Mom, Single Mom

To the Married Mom: What Your Divorced Mom Friends Want You To Know

Dear Married Mom:

We were all once like you.  We once had a husband and kids.  We had a family.  Maybe it was picture-perfect, but was wrecked by an affair or betrayal.  Maybe it was never as perfect behind closed doors as it looked on Instagram.  Maybe it was always a hot mess and everyone knew it.

But regardless, we had what you have and now our family is no longer the same.  It has changed.  Our lives have changed.

One of the hardest things about joining the Divorced Wives Club is that it can be isolating.  Whether our old friends just feel like they can’t relate, if they think divorce is contagious (it’s not), or if they think all newly single women want their husbands (we don’t), many of our married friends seem to disappear.

I choose to think that it’s just hard for some of our married friends to understand this new phase in our lives.  Maybe they have questions that they are afraid will be uncomfortable for us to answer.  Maybe they don’t understand why we are only available at odd times (every other weekend we are all in, but the once perfect Thursday nights are now out).  Maybe they think that they are hurting us by talking about their husbands or being invited to family events.

Anyhow, I’m hoping this list may clear a few things up.

  1. We are worried that our kids will be treated differently.

Our kids have been through a lot and we know it.  Many of us carry guilt about not making our relationship work, even if we did all that we could.  We have to answer questions that our kids have, hear them complain about going back and forth between parents, and see them miss out on events because they are with the other parent on that weekend.

We, just like all parents, just want for our kids to be healthy and happy.

Our kids know that a lot of their friends have parents who are married.  They know they are different.

Anything you could do to include our children, to treat them as you did before the divorce, would be so appreciated by us.

  1. Being divorced/separated is not the same thing as having a traveling husband.

While I personally have had a traveling husband, and I know how difficult that is, it is not the same as being divorced or a single mom.  If you happen to suggest as much or call yourself a “single mom” because your husband is gone for a few days or a week, just be aware that you are probably offending a single mom you know.  I know that you probably mean nothing by it, but while you may run the household alone, you do still have someone to do life with.  True single moms do not.

That being said, I personally think that being a divorced mom holding down the fort at home is a bit easier than having a traveling husband in some ways.  When I was married and my husband would come home on the weekends, he would kind of rock the boat of everything we had going on.  Sleep schedules, routines, meals, etc. would be thrown out of whack.  Also, I felt like I had to clean like a madwoman every Friday before he got home.  AND I still missed out on some girls nights, etc. when he was traveling because a sitter was so expensive.  So, while you aren’t a “single mom” while your man is out of town, that doesn’t mean that it is easy or that you have nothing to complain or be frustrated about.  Just know that particular phrase tends to get under some single moms’ skin.

  1. Unless you got married less than 5 years ago, your dating advice is old school. But we still love it when you try to talk girl-talk with us.

We LOVE that you care about our dating life (if we are talking to you about it…unsolicited questions are not so welcome).  It is nice to have someone to talk to about that cute guy we met or the last date we went on.  But wow!  How times have changed!  Not only is dating in general totally different with dating apps galore, but dating with kids is light-years different than dating without them.

Just remember we are trying to figure out this new dating world too and may make some mistakes along the way.  If you can just reserve a bit of judgment and try to be encouraging, that would be great!  And, yes, we do appreciate all of your advice…we just might not take it.

Also, the phrase “I’m so glad I don’t have to date these days!” is probably meant as a way to relate, but it can kind of sting.  Most of us aren’t exactly thrilled to have to go out into the dating world the second time around.

Photo by Huy Phan
  1. Complaining about your husband to us may be a bad idea.

There are three types of divorced women:

TYPE ONE: The well-adjusted ones who are not bitter and who want to hear everything about your life.  You can have an occasional vent session with these girls and they are not offended or bothered in the least (I fall under this category).  But not every divorced woman is there yet.

TYPE TWO: The ones who are hurting.  Complaining to these friends about your husband is like complaining about your kids or pregnancy to someone who just had a miscarriage or is dealing with infertility.  Unless you know for sure your friend can handle your vent sesh, try to be sensitive to her feelings.  While you may be upset that your husband didn’t take out the trash last night, your divorced mom friend has been taking it out by herself every single time since her husband walked out.

TYPE THREE: The bitter ones.  These should be easier to spot.  If your friend is a little too gleeful of your irritation with your husband, and especially if she encourages separation or divorce, stay away from her.  She is toxic to your marriage.  A good friend (married or not) would suggest counseling or reconciliation if you are having issues.  I personally hope my married friends have life-long and happy marriages!  If your friend isn’t on your marriage’s team, drop them.

  1. Please don’t leave us out now that we are single.

We want to be invited on that girl’s trip or to the family cookout.  We miss you.  Our kids miss your kids.

I was so thankful for those friends who still invited me to things after I was divorced.  A few of my friends truly made me feel as if nothing had changed.  They still invited me to adult events where couples were, and to be honest, since the guys usually hang out with the guys and vice versa, I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.  We were still invited to family parties and cookouts and events.  They made me feel normal.  They made my kids feel normal.

I also had other friends who no longer invited me.  It was as if since I was a little different, I wasn’t welcome.  Or maybe they thought that I would feel uncomfortable, so instead of leaving the decision of whether to attend up to me, they made the decision for me.  Either way, it hurt.  It made me feel weird, out of place, and alienated.

So, if you are on the fence about whether to invite us or not, please invite us.  We’ll make an excuse if it feels too uncomfortable, but we will appreciate the invite all the same.

Photo by Kelsey Chance

Oh, and another thing…if you go to church, invite us to sit beside you on Sunday.  It can be weird to get used to sitting alone at a service where almost everyone seems to have someone with them.

  1. We may have changed, but we still have things in common with you.

I know that having a husband is a big part of your life, and it used to be a big part of ours.  But even though we no longer have that in common, we still have other things that we share with you.

After all, we still have kids and all that comes with that.  Most of us probably originally became friends over our kids anyway…that’s what moms do.

Plus, even though we are no longer wives, we are still women.   We still love neighborhood ladies events, shopping, dancing, trying new restaurants, laughing with our girlfriends, weekends away, etc.  Whatever we did with you before, we still love now!  We can still be friends.

  1. We try to make the most of our “free weekends”.

For those of us who have our children every other weekend, that time is precious to us!!  I know that I personally have my kids 80% of the time.  That means that 80% of the time, I do it all.  I don’t have anyone to pick up the slack or to pass the kids off to if I need a break.  On the flipside, I’m totally alone 20% of the time.  No kids.  Not as many responsibilities.  So, in that 20% of the time, I try to do the majority of my socializing, dating, etc. as well as catch up on housework and my to-do list.  There is nothing worse to me than a wasted “free” weekend.

So, if you do have a weekend free when you would like to have some girl time: grab brunch, get a little pampering, etc., call up your divorced mom friend!  If it is her free weekend, she would probably love nothing more than to have some girl time with you!

  1. But when we are with our kids, we don’t want to leave them.

I cannot tell you how many times I have said no to a kid-free event on a weekday or a weekend when I have my kids.  Yes, I need a break.  Yes, the 12 days straight with my kids without having help can drive me insane.  But I work full-time.  I spend most of my evenings shuttling kids to afterschool activities.  When I have time to spend with my kids, I want to hang out with them.  I DO know I need time for myself and so once in awhile I will do something for me, but don’t get offended if I say no, even if I have someone to babysit.

The worst part of becoming a divorced mom is that almost every single MNO takes place on a Thursday, no matter what it is: Bunco, Book Clubs, etc.  It’s hard to justify getting a babysitter for a Thursday night when my kids are going to their dad’s for the weekend the next day.

Photo by Jordan Whitt
  1. Our kids are going to miss important events because they are with their dad, and we hate it.

My kids have missed out on a lot when they were with their dad.  Even though he and I co-parent very well together, he lives 3 hours away.  Which means that my girls miss a lot of birthday parties, sleepovers, playdates, and other events.

Our kids are sad to miss out and we are sad that they have to miss out.  But don’t stop inviting them!!  They may be able to make it next time!

  1. Our stress level is high.

Oh what I wouldn’t give sometimes to have someone to share the load with.  If anything, I think I miss that the most.

Just someone who could watch the kids while I ran to the store.  Or who could unload the dishwasher.  Or do the night time routine so I could just have a little break.  Someone who could help with taking the kids to their afterschool activities.  Someone who could be there with the kids so I could run out to a girls’ night without feeling guilty about it.  Someone to share paying the bills.  Someone to take over with discipline when I’m burned out.  Someone to back me up when the kids want to keep arguing with me.

It is stressful doing it all on our own.

And on top of that, we are the breadwinner in our family.  And we’re worried about our children’s well-being.  And we’re trying to make sure our kid doesn’t miss out, because they already miss out on having both mom and dad there in their home together like all of their friends whose parents are still married have.

And if we’re dating too….oh boy.  Have you seen the people on those dating apps??  Remember how stressful and nervous you were to go on a date in college when all of your girlfriends were there helping you get ready and sharing in the experience with you?

Well, now it’s just as nerve wracking, but you’re getting ready on your own, and most of your friends can’t really relate because they have been married for eons.  Plus, if you end up going on a date when the kids are with you, you’re trying to get your kids settled with a sitter and battling “mama guilt” before you head out.

So yeah, it’s stressful.  And it never ends.

Photo by Kevin Grieve
  1. We are exhausted.

Like I’m not 100% saying that I am “having a newborn at home” exhausted, but I’d say I’m pretty close to that most of the time.

Look at everything I listed in #10.

My days are spent:

  • Getting kids up for school, packing my child’s Gluten-free & dairy free lunch, getting myself ready for work
  • Going to work for 8 hours
  • Rushing (always rushing) to pick up my kids from daycare and the sitter’s to get them to dance (one of them dances or tumbles every day).
  • We get home. I cook dinner.  Because not only is it expensive to eat out all the time (and out of budget), but my oldest can’t have gluten or dairy, so I have to make special meals for her.
  • After dinner we: practice dance/stretch/sometimes watch a tv show/play basketball/walk to the park on our one early dance day.
  • We do bedtime routine/devotion/prayer/my youngest begs me to sleep with her. I try not to fall asleep and give myself a time-limit on how long I will stay.  I stay about 30 mins longer than I tell her I will.  She still cries when I leave.
  • I do dishes and laundry and clean if I can muster the energy. Or I fall asleep in bed with my clothes on.  Or I have already fallen asleep in bed with my youngest and stumble to my bed in the middle of the night.
  • I set my alarm to do the same thing the next day.

While not every divorced mom shares my exact schedule or circumstances, almost all of us have one thing in common: We are trying to be everything to everyone, while trying our best to support our kids and help them have the best childhood possible.  All with no partner to help.

And, yes, those of us who have every other weekend off can sometimes catch up on sleep on that off weekend.  But we’re also so busy making the most of the that time (we have so much to do to get caught up around the house) that if we DO catch up on sleep and rest, we are behind a day when the kids come back.

  1. When the kids come back after a weekend with dad, it is hard.

So, picture what it’s like when the kids spend the weekend with Grandma and then you get them back.  We all know about that “adjustment period” right?  Well, for many of us divorced moms, we deal with that every other week.

When kids see dad only every other weekend, they tend to get a little spoiled at his house.  I’m not faulting the dads for that.  It’s just that…when you don’t have to actually be a parent to your child every single day, you can let things slide.  You want to make the most of the time the child is with you, and you want for the visit to be a great experience.  It makes sense, and I would probably feel the same way if I were in an “every other weekend” dad’s position.

My kids definitely have different rules at their dads.  There’s more candy and sweets, a lot more screen time, and no responsibilities.  My youngest sleeps with her dad (she is very cuddly), which makes it SUPER fun when she comes home and wants me to lay with her until she falls asleep.

Very doable two weekends a month.  Not practical or feasible when I have to use the time after the kids are in bed to get the house in order.

  1. We are on a budget.

No matter what kind of lifestyle we had when we were married, no matter whether we have gone back to work or if we get child support, we are probably on a tighter budget than we were when we were married.

I had a sweet friend once who was trying to help me house hunt.  She told me that the house down the street from her (in our old neighborhood) was for sale.

While I could have afforded that house when I was married (and I do receive child support and have a great job), I couldn’t move in the same type of house that I had had before my divorce.  Some may be able to fund a similar lifestyle, but most of us have had our budget take a bit of a hit.

  1. We can do it all (almost). But sometimes we do need some help.

We are strong.  We can do almost anything.

Since my divorce, I have learned to kill bugs, conquered my fear of being in a house alone, started paying all the bills by myself, taken up every household chore…

But when you or your kids are sick with something major, you never wish you were still married more.

When I had the flu, my friends dropped off soup, crackers, tea, and medicine to me.  When my daughter had the stomach bug and I couldn’t leave, my friends dropped off Gatorade, Pedialyte, and saltines.

While we don’t want to be pitied, and we can do a lot on our own, there are just some times when we need some help.

There are also some household issues that I can’t tackle alone.  A friend sent her husband to help me hang a light in my house.  My brother-in-law checked out my car when it was acting funny to see what was wrong.

My dad and boyfriend helped me put the furniture together in my house.

Even though we have to do almost everything alone, it is nice to have a little help when we need it.

  1. Please don’t trash our ex-spouse or get involved in the drama of our divorce.

We all have our moments when we want to vent about our ex, but it isn’t healthy for us to dwell on the past or on his bad traits.

I know you may have things that you want to say about our former spouse, especially if you didn’t like him or the way he treated us, but please don’t use our time hanging out as a trash session. Also, please never say anything negative about our child’s dad in front of the children!  After all, no matter what you think of him, he is still the father of his children, they love him.  They don’t need to know everything that their father has done wrong, just as we don’t want them to know everything that we could have done differently.

If you get too involved in the divorce drama, you aren’t going to be able to be supportive of a healthy co-parenting relationship (which is best for the children and all involved).  Your negative behavior could even cause us issues in court as most custody agreements include a clause about disparaging remarks made about either parent in front of the children.

Instead of bashing, keep our mindset positive and help us find solutions to our problems.  Encourage us to make some time for us (maybe even offer to watch the kids for a bit so we can relax).  Remind us to keep our eye on the prize of a healthy co-parenting relationship so our kids can be healthy and happy!  That is what we really need…even if we don’t realize it!

As an added bonus, if you don’t get overly involved in the negativity, you can treat our ex kindly if you see him at a band concert or dance recital without feeling weird and awkward, which is a win-win!

The Verdict

Even though some things in our lives have changed, your friendship is still valuable to us!

Don’t give up on our friendship or shy away just because you don’t understand exactly what our lives are like now.  I hope this post helps those married mamas who are having a difficult time relating to their newly divorced friends, but if you are having a hard time connecting to an old friend who has gone through this huge life change, just ask her about her life now.  She may be dealing with the same things as me, or she may have other challenges, but either way, the path to understanding begins with open dialogue.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

I’d like to thank those friends of mine who have been there for me through all of the changes in my life, who have never ceased to include me, and who always made my kids and I feel like part of the group!  I love you!!!

Positive Mindset, Single Mom

You Can’t Be Pro-Life Without Being Pro-Single Mom

I have seen many Pro-Life posts and shares on my Facebook feed in the past couple of weeks, and we all know why:  New York signed a bill that made it possible for a baby to be aborted up until the moment of birth.

What I have NOT seen are posts that celebrate Single Moms.

It’s as if most people don’t see that the two go hand in hand.

Picture this:

You head into the check-out line at Wal-Mart, and the woman ahead of you pulls out an EBT to pay.  Like most moms with young children, she seems a bit frazzled, hair a mess. She’s alternating from sliding the card to keeping her two bouncing children in check.  You notice she has no ring on her left hand.  The man behind you makes a comment about how his taxes helped pay for her food, and you watch as a flush colors her cheeks.  What do you do?  How do you feel?

What if I told you that same man was sharing anti-abortion memes the day before?

Let’s think about this logically.  Some people 1) Do not support free birth control  2) Want to ban Plan B  3) Claim to be Pro-Life and 4) Complain when a single mom has to use government assistance.

That, my friend is NOT Pro-Life.

You can’t be Pro-Life and then complain about mothers who get government assistance.

You can’t be Pro-Life and want to ban Plan B (which is NOT an abortion pill.  It does not abort a baby).

You can’t be Pro-Life and not want to hand out free birth control to everyone.  (54% of those who had abortions in 2015 were not on Birth Control while 41% were using it inconsistently).

You can’t be Pro-Life and shame or look down on those who had the baby that they could have aborted.

The reality is that many people have sex.  Not all of them choose great partners. Sometimes this is because they are a bad judge of character, but many times, a person doesn’t reveal who he really is until it is too late.

Supporting single mothers and celebrating their choice to give life instead of looking down on them can only help the abortion rate continue to decline.

How can those who oppose abortion support single mothers?

Financially

According to a survey conducted in 2004, 23% of women who were having an abortion said they did so for financial reasons.

Babies are expensive.   If a single mother had more resources available to help her, maybe that would help her make a different decision.  After all, 86% of those women who choose to have abortions are unmarried, and 59% have had at least one child before.

So in theory, a woman may have decided not to abort in the past, but now she does not see how she can financially support another child.

Change the Narrative About Single Mothers

33% of the women who had abortions in 2015 did so because they did not want to be a single mother or were not ready for a child yet.

Some of the same people who scream that abortion is murder look down on those who chose to give their babies life.  How does that make sense?

According to waitingtillmarriage.org, only 3% of people waited until marriage to have sex between 1994-2003.  Between 1954-1963, only 11% waited until marriage to have sex.  That  means that a lot of the people who are looking down on single mothers should really be counting their blessings that they are not in the same predicament.

*While I think waiting until marriage is commendable and an attainable goal, if the Pro-Life Movement’s objective is to save more babies from abortion, we must all be realistic about the facts.*

As a single woman with an unplanned pregnancy, one would think that part of the appeal for abortion would be that no one would know.  If she keeps the baby, there would be no way to hide that the pregnancy exists.  In my opinion, this is what makes the option of adoption a less attractive choice than abortion for some.

An interesting statistic was that 54% of the abortions performed in 2014 were done on women who had affiliation with the Church (either Protestant or Catholic).  Could it be that the demoralization of unwed mothers has led to more abortions from those who identify as Christian?  After all, if one sin has already been committed, maybe committing a subsequent sin to cover up the first seems like the best option.  If a woman is a “sinner” no matter what, why not commit an additional sin to save face or her reputation?  This is just speculation on my part, but food for thought.

If being a single mom could be easier, and seen in a more favorable light, maybe more mothers would choose to walk down that road instead of taking the quick and quiet way out.

Support Programs that Support Single Mothers

While there are some government programs that provide assistance, you may also have local ministries or programs that provide some type of additional help.  Actively look for those programs and support them financially, as a volunteer, and by sharing them on social media.  That may make a bigger difference than sharing about how abortion is murder.  At this point, I don’t think many people in America are in the dark about abortion.  They may, however, not know about the programs that can help out single moms during and after the unplanned pregnancy.

Take the Time to Listen to Single Moms

Many single moms have heartbreaking stories.  Their boyfriend broke up with them after they got pregnant.  A guy who was supposed to be there went MIA.  Some are survivors of abusive relationships.

Many single moms are trying the best they can.  They work full-time, and then they spend the evenings and weekends parenting alone.  Some do have some government assistance, but some make just enough money with their job not to qualify.  Many receive no child support, or their previous partner is thousands of dollars in arrears.  The majority are just trying to raise their children the best they can just like most moms.

But the best thing about single moms is that they are survivors and fighters.  They are proud about what they have accomplished.  Tell them that you have noticed.  Tell them that they are good moms.  They probably don’t hear it often enough.

Be a Friend

“The physical difficulties of only being one person who has to be responsible for so much isn’t the hardest part. Yeah, I’m sleep deprived and stressed and constantly on the go or looking for something that someone lost. The hardest part for me has always been the lack of a partner to support me in being a mom. The absence of someone standing there lovingly admiring my kids when they say silly stuff or do something special for the first time. And when my kids are hurting and it breaks my heart, there’s no one there feeling that with me to console me. For me it’s always been the lack of emotional support that makes it so incredibly difficult.” – Karen

Being a single mom can be lonely and isolating, especially if the mom has no one to help her with childcare.  Be there for her.  Listen to her stories and watch her videos of her kids.  She may not have anyone else to share those special moments with.

Give Her A Break

One of the things a single mom craves is rest! If you like children, offer to babysit for her while she does something for herself or even just takes a nap. If you aren’t a kid person, you can offer to help in another way, such as helping with dishes, laundry, or bringing a meal. Many single moms are used to doing everything by themselves, and while they may be rocking it, everyone deserves a break now and then!

Pray

Pray for the single moms in your life and community.  Pray for their children.  Pray for our society.  Pray for compassion.

I don’t know all of the answers.  I DO know that being Pro-Life only makes sense if you also support the mothers who give their babies life.

Let’s use this opportunity to celebrate those who gave life to their children when faced with a difficult decision.

Celebrate and support the single mom.

Budgeting Tips, Healthy Eating, Healthy Lifestyle

7 Tips for Cooking on a Budget PLUS 2 Black Bean Recipes

I love food.

Like, I really love food.  Probably as much or more than anyone you know.  There is nothing better than eating a fantastic meal.

But, I have a bit of a confession: I didn’t really learn to cook until I was separated at 30 years old.

When I was married, we went out to eat A LOT.  Every night, the question wasn’t “What’s for dinner?”, it was where.  And I had some great reasons for wanting to go out. Not only did I enjoy the delicious food that seemed intimidating to make, we could also eat different meals at the same time, so everyone was happy. We were also forced to sit at a table together for at least an hour and have family time.  (Now I make sure we eat a family meal every night around our own kitchen table).

It wasn’t until I was alone with two young kids that I realized 2 things: 1) Eating out is expensive.  I can’t even imagine how much money we blew on those amazing dinners, and 2) Going out to eat with a 6 and 2 year old by yourself is just not fun at all.  It was time to learn the skill of cooking on a budget.

So, armed with the motivation to cook for pretty much the first time in my entire life, I began searching for recipes in an attempt to bring the delicious food I was used to eating in restaurants home to our kitchen table.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the soup I was paying $5.00 a cup for was the easiest thing in the world to make at home for way less.  Then I tried the chicken enchilada casserole from 100 Days of Real Food and it was amazing (I added green peppers to mine and used whole grain tortillas), which encouraged me to try even more new recipes! I even learned to cook bacon and grits instead of going out to brunch on the weekends!  (Seriously, that is how much I did NOT cook before).  My girls became more adventurous eaters since they had to eat what I cooked (and there were no chicken tenders or cheeseburgers on the menu).  I began to discover what spices went into which types of dishes, and cooking became kind of fun!

I also realized how little a meal could cost.  Since I am not a huge meat eater, we started to eat mostly vegetarian foods.  I started to pay attention to what was on sale and stock up for future meals.  Cutting out meat may not be for you, but for this little fam of all girls, it has worked well!  (And we still eat meat occasionally).

I’m still learning how to make healthy, kid friendly meals on a tight budget, but these are the tips I have learned so far!

  1. Stock Up on Sale Items. But only items you need.  I purchase healthy snacks for my kids and the ingredients to make meals.  That is it.  And I buy the same items over and over.
  2. Use Coupons if you have them. But only clip the coupons if the are for items you need.  It does not save you money to spend $2.00 on a junk food item that you would never have purchased if you hadn’t see the $.50 off coupon.  I also save the coupon for when the item goes on sale again.
  3. Buy Frozen and Canned foods when possible. Frozen veggies are better for you than canned, so I always buy those, along with frozen fruits if I plan to cook with them.  I do buy canned tomatoes and black beans (and other beans, but black beans are a major staple at my house). I do not buy fresh anything if I can avoid it, because I want every item to have the longest shelf-life possible.  Any food item that is thrown out is a waste of money.
  4. Rotate out Fresh Fruits/Veggies. Of course, there are some items you have to purchase fresh, such as fruits and veggies that you plan to eat raw (especially for snacking)! I used to go wild buying several different types of veggies and fruits at once, and no matter how much we snacked on them, I would usually end up tossing something.  I have learned if I get a couple types of veggies and fruits each, we are more likely to finish them and less is wasted.  Then I can get something new the next week and everyone is excited to eat it.
  5. Limit Your Meat Intake. Meat can easily become the most expensive part of a meal. When I first started cooking, I would make a meat and a couple of sides, and I occasionally still do this.  However, I have learned that my kids eat more vegetables when they are incorporated in the meal in some way (soups, pasta, etc), so I started putting meat on the backburner instead of making it the star of the meal.  When I do cook with meat, I will get a package of something such as chicken breasts, cook them, and use a little bit in multiple meals.  IE: I’ll make a chicken pot pie one day, and chicken noodle soup the next.
  6. Soups are your BFF. I love soups. You can put any vegetable in a soup and it instantly become easier to eat.  My kids won’t touch onions or cooked bell peppers until I put them in our favorite chili!  Plus, as an added bonus, we generally have enough soup left over for at least one meal afterwards, and sometimes for me to take to work too!
  7. Have Flip Flop Day. Eat breakfast for dinner. Eggs and Grits are sooo cheap.  Add bacon for a little more.  Pancakes and waffles are quick and easy on a busy weeknight, or you can whip up omelets for a healthier option.

The two recipes below take all of the rules above in consideration, and they are go-to meals for me!

 

Easy Peasy Black Bean Chili

This chili is ALWAYS a hit at my house and I keep enough ingredients on hand to make it any time I’m not sure what to make for dinner.  At home, we eat the meatless version, but I usually add chicken if I’m making it for others!

Ingredients:

2 cans of black beans

1 can diced tomatoes with chilis

1 can diced tomatoes

1/3 bag frozen corn (save rest for next time!)

1/3 bag frozen sliced peppers and onions (save rest for next time!)

1 container chicken broth

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground pepper

Diced cooked chicken (optional)

Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Jalapenos, for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Directions:

  1. If you have time, saute the pepper and onions in a pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic. If you’re in a hurry, skip to step 2.
  2. Put black beans, diced tomatoes, and diced tomatoes with chilis in a pot. If you would like your chili to be thicker, drain juice first.  If you want a soupier chili, do not drain.  Add frozen (or fresh) peppers and onions.  Add corn.  Add chicken broth and chicken (optional).  Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Turn setting down and let the chili simmer. Add seasonings.  I estimated the amounts because I usually taste as I go.  I start with less and add more until I reach the desired flavor.  DO NOT leave out the cinnamon.  It makes a big difference in the recipe!  You can add red pepper flakes for an added kick.
  4. It will be ready to eat in around 30 mins, but the longer it cooks, the better, and it is even better reheated the next day!
  5. Serve with sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, etc.

 

Vegetarian Farmers Hash with Gouda Grits

This recipe is my version of my favorite meal at Charleston’s Café, my #1 place to brunch when I’m in Mt Pleasant.  They always add meat in their version (chorizo seems to be a fav), but when I make it at home, I go meatless.  They also usually use potatoes instead of grits, but I prefer keeping grits in my pantry since they have a longer shelf life (and because they’re grits, and I’m a southern girl).

Directions for Vegetarian Farmers Hash:

  1. Saute the pepper and onions in a pan with butter and minced garlic. Add a sprinkle or two of cumin.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized, add drained black beans. Continue to cook mixture until it thickens. (If you want to add cooked meat, you can do so at this time as well).
  3. In the meantime, fry two eggs in a separate pan.
  4. When black bean and pepper mixture is finished cooking, move it to plate. Add shredded gouda cheese on top.  When eggs are done cooking, place them on top of cheese.
  5. Serve with gouda grits and enjoy!

Directions for Gouda Grits:

  1. Cook grits according to package instructions (roughly ¼ cup grits for every 1 cup of water).
  2. Once grits are cooked, add salt and pepper to taste, a pat of butter, and shredded gouda cheese. Add a few splashes of milk and stir.
  3. Serve with Vegetarian Farmers Hash

Don’t forget to shop the sales to get the best price on the ingredients!

What are your favorite healthy meals that are easy on the budget? Any additional tips on how to save?  Tell us in the comments below!

Friendship, Relationships (Friendship/Dating), Tackling Lemons

How to Make Friends as a Single Mom

First Day of Kindergarten.  College Orientation.  There are some situations in life when it is easy to make friends because everyone else is looking for new friends too.  But for the rest of your life, it can be more difficult.  You have to make more of an effort.  You have to seek out friendships instead of having them fall in your lap.

This can become even more difficult as a single mom.  Some newly divorced moms find that their married friends don’t call them to hang out as much, or they stop getting invited to couples events entirely.  On top of that, many single moms end up moving, either for financial reasons or to be near family.  That means they have to start over in the friend department.

But don’t worry, there are many places to make new friends if you take the initiative and have an open attitude!

Where to Make Friends

  1. Church – If you are a Christian, the local church is a great place to build new friendships! The key is getting involved by joining a small group/lifegroup/Sunday School class and/or volunteering in an area where you are gifted.  If you are currently at a church where you aren’t connecting with anyone, try a different church!  Pro Tip – If there is a playground, hang out there for a bit after the service.  That is a great place to meet other parents!
  2. Meetup.com – I have made countless friends on this site at different stages of my life. It is free to join, and there are groups of every kind.  Search for Single Moms groups or moms groups in general!  But don’t limit yourself to meeting other moms!  Charlotte (where I live) has groups for hiking, board games, kickball, wine tastings…etc.  Whatever your interest, you can find others who are into the same thing!
  3. Sports Leagues – If you are the sporty type (or not, but you like team sports anyway like me), check out the local leagues. You can play kickball, soccer, flag football, softball, volleyball, etc.
  4. Facebook Groups – No matter where you live, there is likely at least one group on Facebook for moms in your area. Where I live, for example, I am in three: one for my town, one for moms in my neighborhood with school-aged kids, and a smaller group for those new to the neighborhood.  Post in the group asking if anyone wants to meet up for a drink or a playdate. You’ll likely have a ton of interest!
  5. Neighborhood clubs/events – If you live in an active neighborhood or apartment complex, you probably have clubs and activities going on. Pay attention to any newsletters or announcements that you receive from the HOA or management company to see what all there is out there.  See something that interests you but not sure if it is your thing?  Try it out anyway!  Bunco is something I had never played before, but it was a great way to meet people in my neighborhood!
  6. Start a group for single moms where you can meet up together if you can’t find one! I have lots of friends who are married with and without kids, or single with no kids, but it is nice to have at least a couple of friends who can understand the specific challenges that come with solo-parenting, dating with children, etc.  In fact, I just started my own local group for single moms last week!  I posted in the Facebook mom’s group for our hometown asking if there were any other single moms who would like to get together.  The response was great, so I started a Facebook group for us and we got together this past Friday night for the first time!  If you start it, they will come, and they’ll be thankful you took the initiative!

So now that you know how to find people, how do you turn acquaintances into friendships?  Here are some methods that work for me!

How to Make Friends from Aquaintances

  1. Be open to people who are different than you. When I go somewhere new, I do not just go into the room looking for single moms in their 30s with a 2nd grader and 4 year old.  Don’t discount a potential friend because that person is married, doesn’t have kids, has different interests than you, etc.  There is likely something you have in common with pretty much everyone.  Look for that commonality, and build a friendship from there.
  2. Look for ways to hang out in addition to the planned activity.  If you are meeting people in a structured environment, invite the group out to do something fun.  If you meet at church, see if anyone wants to go out to eat after the service Sunday, or go grab a drink after kickball.
  3. Invite people over to your house.  Pretty much every month has at least one excuse to celebrate!  Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th…  Throw a party and invite people from the groups you are involved in to come.  It is a great way to get to know people better!  Pro Tip: Over-Invite!  Especially if your party is on a holiday when people may have other plans (ie: July 4th), you could have low percentage of attendees.  Even if someone cannot attend, however, your invitation will be appreciated!
  4. Invite people from one group to another group.  I naturally do this, but I’m not sure if others do.  If you are my friend from small group, I’m going to invite you to join my kickball team, and vice versa.  This is a great way to spend more time with your new friends as well as to get to know them in a different environment!
  5. When someone invites you somewhere, go. If you get invited to something and you like the person who invited you, go if at all possible! If you can’t find a sitter or have previous plans, be sure to let that person know that you would love to attend next  time!
  6. Be authentic. We are all different.  Be your own, real self and don’t try to be what anyone wants you to be.  They will like the real you more than someone who wears a mask.                                                                                                                                                     

Bottom Line: No matter where you make your friends, be true to yourself and open to others, even if they seem very different than you…the person who is your total opposite may end up being your best friend!

 

What are your tips for making friends?

Positive Mindset

Raining Lemons

Y’all.

I have been looking so forward to starting this blog about being positive and living your best life as a single mom, and then, oh the irony.  Today, the day I finally took the plunge and bought my domain, my toilet overflowed ALL OVER THE DOWNSTAIRS.

Tomorrow morning, my oldest daughter will be put to sleep for the first time for a minor procedure and her dad is not able to make it due to being between jobs and living in another state.  My youngest just got over the flu.  And then this happens.

Today is a day when I feel like I have been dealt a few lemons.  Too many lemons.  Well, I’m trying to do my best to make the best darn lemonade I can.

We are all dealt lemons sometimes.  Divorce.  Job loss.  Moving from somewhere we love.  Sickness.  Death of a loved one.  I know I have had all of those thrown at me and more.  But it isn’t about the lemons, what matters is our mindset when they come.

When lemons come my way, I try to deal with them and stay positive, even when I want to curl up in a ball and cry (and sometimes I do that first, just being real here).  However, I don’t stay in that place.  I reset my mind on the positive, and these are some of the ways that I am able to do that, even when everything is bad.

  1. Look for the positive in the situation.  There is always a positive. Tonight, I caught the water before it ruined the entire downstairs.  That’s a pretty big positive.
  2. Meditate on your blessings. My kids are generally healthy.  The flu did not spread through our home (knock on wood).  Speaking of homes, we have one and it is a nice one in my favorite place to live.  I have a wonderful family and lots of friends.  I am not doing this thing all by myself, even if it feels like that in the moment when no one else wants to take care of my sick kid and no one else is there when the toilet overflows right when I need a break.
  3. Ask for help. Tonight I called my parents for advice on how to deal with the plumbing issue (and to commiserate with them).  When my daughter had the flu, I posted on my neighborhood page looking for someone to bring me Elderberry syrup (I had cash) and I had two different strangers bring me things I needed to take care of her since I couldn’t get out.  Even though my daughter’s dad won’t be there tomorrow, my boyfriend will be at the hospital when we get there and my dad is going to come when he has to leave so I won’t be alone.  If you need help, ask for it.  Then pay it forward.
  4. Create more positives. If your life right now is just one big lemon, focus on the problems and tackle them one by one.  Have no friends?  Make some (get started here).  Dating life stagnant when you don’t want it to be?  Put yourself out there.  Unhappy with your health?  Start making choices to move towards your goal.  Create more positives in your life instead of focusing on the bad.
  5. Accept that life will not be perfect.  Life is not perfect for anyone.  There are some things that we just have to deal with.  Parenting is hard.  Relationships take work.  Dealing with an ex on a regular basis because you have children together isn’t super fun.  Focus on the things you can change and control, and look for the good in the situations you can’t change.

I am not perfect, and sometimes I have to have a bit of a breakdown before I get to the stage where I can look at the positives, but it really does help to reset my mind and look for the good in a situation instead of wallowing in the bad.  Because no matter how great a person’s life looks, there is always at least a little bad.  And no matter how awful your situation or mine looks, there is always at least a little good.

What are your tips for keeping a positive mindset when it is raining lemons?