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22 Tips for Single Parents

22 Tips for Single Parents

How to Save Money and Your Health as a Single Parent

Whether you’re newly single, have been doing it for a while or facing the possibility, these tips will help.

*Trigger Warning: this post does mention abuse but doesn’t go into the details. I left an abusive marriage and was single for years.

In 2009, I became a single mother for the first time. My kids were 2 and 9 months old. As many women do, I gave him another chance then split completely in 2012. As difficult as it was, it was worth it. I spent years single and it took a lot to trust.

A few years ago, I partnered again. His study took him to another state for 4 months plus his work means he is in another state for now too. We’ve also had 2 kids (a son in January 2021 and a daughter in February 2022).

Let me be explicitly clear here, having a partner working or studying away is NOT the same as being a full-time single parent. Please do not compare the two. They are different scenarios with pros and cons to both but it is not the same. Being a full-time single parent is definitely emotionally, financially and physically more involved.

That said, ALL parents can benefit from these tips.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

1. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is NOT having a bath uninterrupted or something basic like that. So much of what is suggested for mothers as self-care is what fathers get to do normally.

That’s not to say a bath on your own or time out isn’t great, it is definitely needed. But you should be able to pee or shower in peace without it being called self-care.

For me, self-care was about ensuring I got exercise, my morning routine, time with friends, my beauty e.g. DIY facial etc every week. Things that took care of my health physically and mentally.

Write a list of things you enjoy doing, did enjoy before kids or want to try and start doing them.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

A spending plan/budget can be basic. The main thing is knowing what money is coming in, what money is going out and learning where you are leaking money so you can stop it.

My focus when I became a single parent years ago was to increase my income and get off Centrelink. While I am grateful we have a welfare safety net, I didn’t want to live on it long term even those around me did (I was living in Western Sydney at the time).

Read how to create and stick to a budget even as a single parent.
43 ways for single mums to make money is a great start for increasing your income.
A challenge on Aspiring Millionaire, From $2 to Millionaire, is all about starting with $2, doubling the amount over and over in different ways to become a millionaire.

3. Cultivate Your Own Support Network

You know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Everyone needs a support network, friends they can rely on or call, people they can go out with and other adults your children trust.

Sports teams, church, classes, parents of your kids friends etc. All of these are great places to find friends and grow your community.

4. Claim Whatever You Can

If you are claiming anything from Centrelink, be sure to check all your entitlements. Not only with them but with other organisations. There are discounts available on numerous things from electricity to registration. Check out how to survive on Centrelink for more.

5. Know What is Available

So much help is available through various organisations such as legal aid, community pantries, electricity bill payments, NILS etc.

It takes a bit of research but it is worth it to know what help is available to you as a single parent. If you are leaving an abusive relationship, many banks and other services you are signed up for have extra help available too.

6. Don’t be too Proud

Too often we are ashamed of our circumstances so we don’t seek the help we need. When I was single, I didn’t want anyone to know what had happened (even though it was abuse) because I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

Had I swallowed my pride, things would have been easier in the beginning as I would have had access to a lot more help.

It is ok to ask for help and access all the services available. That’s what they are there for.

Image of mother taking selife with son on rocks on the beach. Text reads 22 tips for single parents. How to Save Money and Your Health as a Single Parent

7. Sort Your Routine

Routines don’t always go as planned, I have 4 kids and definitely have to be flexible with how I want my day to go. However, having an ideal routine, knowing what works for you, keeps you mentally healthy and motivated is important.

I like the Billionaire Morning Routine. While it might not go perfectly every day, I have learned when I do these things each day. Then of an evening, wrap it up with writing my to-do list for the next day, get things ready for the next day, read, meditate and relax to get ready for sleep.

Obviously, that changes when kids need different things, especially with a toddler and a newborn. I know mentally, I do much better if I can follow my routine though.

8. Find Ways to Make Money

Financial stress is a huge issue for single parents I speak with. How to afford everything, especially if they are relying on Centrelink, child support isn’t happening or their child has medical needs.

Even as a stay at home mum, before I was a single mum, I was looking at ways to make money around my kids. Since then, I have continued to do what I can to make money during their school hours or naps. Some of my favourites are blogging and freelance writing.

Check out:

How I made $33,277.57 on the side in 12 months
43 ways for single mums to make money
22 ways to make money on the side in 2022

9. Plan for the Future

Often we get caught up in the now, so focused on how we will pay the next bill that we can forget to budget and plan. Soon debts, bills and everything else piles up causing a lot of stress. Sit down and take the time to make a plan for your future.

You don’t want to get to retirement age and have nothing. The sooner you start, the sooner compound interest can work for you.

Look at your net worth and how to increase it.

What does life look like to you as your kids get older then go on with their own lives? Think about what career you want, the lifestyle you want, who is paying for university if they go, do you want to be able to lend them money etc. The kids will not be in your home forever.

Read 6 tips to easily clear debt. Also, look at how I do my annual financial review for some tips to get your finances sorted and plan better for the future.

10. Treat Child Support as a Bonus

While the other parent absolutely should pay, too many try to get out of it by doing cash jobs or their own business and lying about their income. This is why I say treat it as a bonus because my experience in the early years, it was unreliable.

If you aren’t budgeting for child support, when/if you get it, you can invest it and grow your wealth. Also, child support eventually ends, so it is good not to depend on it.

11. Get Things for Free

There are so many things out there for free. Check out our huge list of birthday freebies including food, discounts and more. Also, this list of freebies for Aussies and 50 ways to live for free.

Join pay it forward and similar groups on Facebook. Look on Marketplace for free items. Let friends and family know what you are looking for.

You can get so many things for free from food through to accommodation.

Image of mother with 2 children. Text reads 22 tips for single parents. How to Save Money and Your Health as a Single Parent

12. Heal Before Dating

I cannot stress this enough. Too many people jump straight into a relationship without healing at all from previous relationships, trauma or issues. If you move too fast, you will more than likely end up hurt again.

Get counselling if you need it. Read books, listen to podcasts, do courses, whatever it is you need to know yourself better and to heal.

Often, we repeat the same mistakes in every relationship because we haven’t done the healing work. Without that work, we repeat behaviours and attract the same type of partners.

13. Your Life Your Choice

Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything. I’ve raised my daughters with the “Your body, your choice” motto but it goes for your life as well. No one else is living it, you are!

You are the one responsible for your life, your kids and what you do. Obviously, everywhere has rules and you need to raise and teach your kids, be an example and a parent. But you can still have your own life.

Check out 18 time-saving tips for busy mums.

14. Keep on top of Your Career

It can be hard as a single parent trying to continue work but it will be worth it. Continuing with your career means you are earning superannuation, promotions continue and your earning capacity increases faster than if you take time out.

Courses, promotions, switching companies to get better jobs are all valuable long term. Superannuation works better for you the sooner you start which is why staying in your career is important. Investing in yourself this way will reap huge rewards e.g. check out how Aspiring Millionaire quadrupled their investment with courses etc.

Yes, you want to spend time with your kids and enjoy their childhood. Keep a balance between career and family life so your finances don’t suffer when the kids leave home.

15. Keep Training

Along with your career, keep increasing your skills and staying relevant. Or if you want to change careers completely, do any courses asap. There will always be a reason or an excuse as to why you put things off but the more you do, the longer you’ll stay where you are.

The time passes anyway. If you want a degree, get the degree. If you want any qualifications, get them. You are worth it and deserve to take the time to increase your knowledge and earning potential.

16. Childcare is Ok

I struggled with this so much because I was raised in a strict religion where it was expected wives/mothers stay at home. I was taught that “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”. Failure being I didn’t raise my kids right and it would be my fault.

When I became a single mother I quickly realised I could not do it all alone and childcare was essential. Sometimes that’s been friends or family, other times after school care, an au pair, nanny etc. Whatever worked best for us at the time, I accepted it was needed.

I currently don’t use childcare but I am also able to make a great income, from multiple sources in the limited time I get. With 4 kids, the youngest a newborn, I have accepted I am simply not in a position to do much more at this point.

Image of woman/mother in sunflower garden with child on her back. Text reads 22 tips for single parents. How to Save Money and Your Health as a Single Parent

17. Learn Their Love Language

Read The 5 Love Languages (there is a specific children’s version here too). If you’ve never read it or heard of it, it will be eye-opening. The idea is we all have one or a combination of these 5 love languages.

Once I learnt mine and those of my family members, life was much easier. When someone doesn’t feel loved because you aren’t showing them they are loved in the way they feel it most, life is harder. This is when kids act out and mums get stressed out.

Trust me, do yourself a favour and read this book then apply it.

18. Make Childhood Special with Memories

My daughters often comment on how much they have loved different things we’ve done and how fun it has been. While we have had a rollercoaster ride of disasters (abuse, moving a lot, bushfires, cyclones, locked down overseas in 2020 etc.) I tried as best I could to make things fun and memorable.

Some of the many compliments from their friends in all the cities we’ve lived is how available I am, how we have dinner as a family, how close we are and our family activities.

It doesn’t need to be expensive for your kids to have a great childhood. Most of the things we’ve done my kids loved most were free or are rituals/traditions. Check out How to be close to your kids without spending a fortune.

Also, check out the real cost of raising kids and how to reduce it.

19. Learn to say No

So simple, yet so hard. Learn to say no. You don’t have to do everything everyone asks, be everywhere or drop everything for anyone else.

Own your time, decide what you will and won’t do then say no to anything that doesn’t work for you. No is a complete sentence. You don’t need to give reasons or excuses. Simply say no.

Read 18 time-saving tips for busy mums for more.

20. Be open. Be Vulnerable.

After a relationship breakdown, we often close ourselves off because we feel hurt, our self-esteem is probably low and we are questioning things in life. If you need, get therapy and be open and vulnerable.

Take time to heal as mentioned earlier then when or if you do decide to go into a relationship again, be open and vulnerable but cautious too. Use the skills you learn to create a better life for yourself and don’t accept anything less.

When it comes to healing and rebuilding, being open and vulnerable with safe people such as charities, community help, churches etc can be hugely beneficial. Your support network can only help if they know what you need, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

21. Prioritise Health

Early on, I neglected my health and ended up paralysed. I’m not the only person who has neglected themselves and ended up being forced to slow down due to ill health. Numerous single parents I speak with have suffered because they ignored the warning signs their bodies were giving them.

Never again will I allow myself to get so stressed out I skip meals, ignore the warning signs my body is sending, forget to exercise etc.

Now, health is a priority and you need to make it one as well. While I am only 2 weeks post-partum, I know in the coming months I will be able to increase my exercise. In the meantime, my focus is on eating healthy, nutritious, healing foods.

When I am healthy, I am a better mother. I’m more active, climbing, running, jumping and all the things kids love to do are much easier.

If you get sick or have to go to the hospital what will happen? Can your family go on and be fine or do you do everything? As a single parent, it usually falls all on your shoulders. So you need to make sure you’re fit, strong and healthy.

22. Know the Life you Want and Make it Happen

It’s easy to get lost in the humdrum of life, especially as a single parent. The kids all have school, various activities, you might work or have a business and be asked/expected to help with school, sports or anything else your kids are involved in.

Before you know it a year or 5 have passed and you feel lost. You feel as if your life is no longer yours.

Decide now what you want your life to look like and how you can make that happen. It might not change overnight but unless you have a clear goal on the life you want, nothing will change for the better.

For me, I love to set goals and work towards them. I keep a motivation wall with my vision board and I use manifesting to help create the life I have now.

For more ways to make and save money follow us on social media:

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Image of mother and daughter. Text reads 22 tips for single parents. How to Save Money and Your Health as a Single Parent

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