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In a recent study of 2,921 single and married mothers it was discovered that single mothers have a 40% higher incidence of major depression, lasting an average of 12 months.

There are two primary areas that catapult single mothers into depression. These are:

  1. Increased number of life stresses.

  2. Decreased amount of social support.

These findings correlate strongly with my experience in working with depressed, single mothers. What the research did not address was the Catch-22 that single mothers are in.

If you are a single parent you already know what I am about to say. If a non-married, childless adult observed all that a single parent does throughout a day, they would need two days sleep to recover from watching such an exhausting day in the life of a single parent.

A single mother often does the work of three people on any given day. Now, ask that single-mother to take time to work on stresses and increase her social support system and boy are you in for a fight!

There does not appear to be a way out. It's love, duty, hard work and little sleep for single moms.

Is there a better way?

Yes! However, before presenting it to a single mother, you'd better make doubly sure you've done a glorious job of understanding what her average day is like,

When an individual is heard, I mean really listened to from the heart, they have a tendency to open up ("Seek first to understand..."). Then you may have the opportunity to offer suggestions. 

Now, let's flip the coin a bit. Single mothers are often not just tired, but can be jaded, indignant, prideful and stubborn. Life has not turned out the way they dreamed it would. There were marital dreams, dreams of the perfect home, dreams of providing the best for their children, dreams of spending more time with their children and dreams of being the perfect family and more. All lost.

In place of those dreams they have bitter feelings over the marital loss, less than optimal living situations, no "play" time with their children, visitation issues, child support issues, financial stress and the list could go on for many more pages, couldn't it?

If you are a stressed out single mom, please pay special and close attention to what I wrote above (maybe read it twice)... then read on.

Here are some ways to make your life easier. They are listed in no particular order, except if you are moderately-to-severally depressed. If that's the case then major depression demands prompt attention first and foremost. Please, Please take care of yourself! A few folks are counting on you  ;-)

  1. Immediately seek help medically and professionally for 

  2. Live forgiven towards yourself and others. 

  3. Compromise with that critical Inner Judge that only seems to want to persecute you unfairly.

  4. Put down your pride and take ALL the help you can get.

  5. Implement "quickie" stress relievers such as deep 
    breathing, going to a getaway in the mind...

  6. Get organized or ask for help in doing so. It's 
    especially important to do so around daily routines such as morning rituals, after school rituals, chores, 
    mealtimes, baths, bedtimes and family fun time.

  7. Keep the clutter-bug out of your life. Commit to only 
    looking at mail once. Recycle household items 
    continually. If you're out of room, it's time to 
    recycle. Get your kids involved.

  8. Create a single parent co-op, where you can switch on and off with transporting kids, doing house or apartment projects, babysitting for each other...

  9. Are you doing for your children what they can do for 
    themselves? Feed their sense of mastery and 
    independence. They often will feel great knowing they 
    have helped their family out in some way.

  10. Keep a sense of humor. Many a single mother has told 
    me, "If I didn't laugh I don't know what I'd do."

  11. Get your children involved in camps, church, Sunday 
    Bible School, Big Brother/Big Sister Programs and mentoring programs.

  12. Seek financial advice. Having direction and a plan sure 
    beats constant worrying!

  13. Keep a family calendar. It's nice to allow your kids to 
    be in activities, but don't overdo it.

  14. Make a list of stressors. Decide what you have direct 
    control over and focus there in ways that you can. Your task with the other items is learning to let go.

  15. Take itty-bitty timeouts just for you! I once knew of a 
    mom that bought a wild-looking, red bath robe. The rule 
    was when mom came out of her room with that robe on, no one was allowed to ask for anything unless the house was on fire.

  16. Playing off the co-op idea above, create a single 
    mothers support group. Single mothers are one of THE 
    most creative and resourceful groups on the planet! Why not take full advantage of that! Rotate child care 
    from meeting to meeting, receive support directly from 
    others who've been there and pool your resources.

    There's no doubt about it, you've been carved out for a very special job here on Earth. Your job description is longer than Santa's gift list.

    The ideas above do work and are working in single mothers' lives right now. Pick just one area and begin there. When it's ALL overwhelming, you simply start where you're at.  If you need help, just let me know.


Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach


Another Great Blog Story!

The blog is up and running.  If you haven't checked it out yet you can do so at the link below.  There is a new addition by Dolly.  She's using Reiki successfully for chronic pain and depression.  It's inspired me to write a future article on Reiki for the treatment of depression.

Take a moment and email me a success moment in your fight against depression so I can add it to the blog next.  Let's create a resource for the suffering!

Email Me

Visit the Blog

Single Parent Resources

Here are a few top-rated resource sites for single mothers and single fathers.  I've reviewed each site individually for quality.  Help yourself!

  1. Single Rose 

  2. Online Single Mothers

  3. 4 Single Mothers

  4. iVillage Single Mother Articles

  5. Hope Network

  6. M.O.M.S.

  7. Parents Without Partners

  8. Single Mom

  9. Single Parents - About.com

  10. Single Parent Central

Take some time to review these sites.  They each have wonderful resources to offer.


Ask Dave!



"How come I start the day out full of hope and to do lists, and by early afternoon  I'm stuck, can't find the energy to do what I need to do?  I just want to sit here.  I have so much time compared to the last 10 years.  My mom died at the age of 65 this year, and now I have lots of time which I didn't have for years while I was busy with her.  I have two teens and a hubbie and I am feeling overwhelmed by it all.  How come I'm stuck in this mood?"

- Deb


I am sorry to see you struggling so much.  I wonder many things as I read your question.  It sounds as though you are depressed, but I'm not exactly sure what makes up the depression.

  1. Are you grieving the loss of your mother?

  2. Are you grieving the loss of a long and enduring role you played with your mother?

  3. Do you feel lost?

  4. If you could have a conversation with these feelings, what do you think they would say?

First, normal depression does occur with any significant loss.  Please give yourself permission to grieve.  Sit down and close your eyes.  Imagine in your mind a scene that is exactly what you would want for yourself, one year from today.  Allow it to become so vivid it's as though you are there right now.  Once you have pictured this in your mind, place your hand across your center chest area and breathe this vision into you.  

Now, open your eyes and take a notepad and pen and write down your imaginary scene.  Put it wherever you spend time throughout the day.  Repeat the imaginary experience daily!

Next, during a time when you are revisiting your vision, ask yourself a couple of questions.

  1. What do I need to do first to have this?

  2. What resources will I need?

  3. When will I begin?

Repeat this last process until you've reclaimed the life you imagine!  Please be gentle with yourself in the process. ;-)


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