Survival guide for single moms raising toddlers

Thobeka Phanyeko is a Johannesburg based single mom to Oratile (3), and she shares her tips on managing life with a toddler.

Being a single mom means you’re constantly plugged into your child’s life, so you may find yourself going through the motions. Add an energetic toddler to the mix and there you have it… a whirlwind of emotions, tantrums and that 10pm “Mommy, I can’t sleep”. You drag yourself out of bed to sing that lullaby you thought was stored neatly in tomorrow’s arsenal, before collapsing into slumber land, conscious of the clock because in just a few hours the cycle begins… again.

ALSO SEE: 10 financial tips for single moms

  1. Build a strong network around you

Have supportive friends and family you can call when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Joining an online community of single moms can also help you to feel less alone and more connected.

It’s always comforting to know that your situation is more common than you think. Call a friend and vent, share your experiences with other moms, but don’t live in a void because you’re bound to feel smothered.

  1. Incorporate down-time into your daily schedule and get your toddler to participate

If you enjoy reading, schedule an hour or two to catch up on your favourite book and give your little one a book to read as well. You’ll be doing something you enjoy while spending quality time with your child. Also teach her the importance of me-time so that when she’s older, she can appreciate the value of reconnecting with herself.

  1. Let go of the idea of perfection

You are doing the best you can, so there’s no need to be hard on yourself. After a long day at work, you can’t possibly expect yourself to whip up a three-course meal. On days when you’re tired, it’s perfectly OK to order in and put your feet up. Everyone is fed and you still have the energy to give your little one a bath before bedtime. Get rid of that supermom cape and allow yourself to live a little.

  1. Plan your meals

It’s also a good idea to cook and store meals for the week ahead. This is a real time and energy saver.

ALSO SEE: 5 quick and easy pasta dishes to please the whole family

  1. Be honest with your child

Sometimes, you only need a few minutes to yourself. Simply tell your child that Mommy needs a few minutes to regroup and that she can watch her favourite movie for a bit.

  1. Be present

Give her your undivided attention and be genuinely curious. Find out what he enjoys doing so that when you’re doing activities together, he can see how happy you are. And when you request some quiet time, he will find it easier to oblige.

  1. Plan fun activities with your child

This means she’ll have something to look forward to and will appreciate the opportunity to put her energy to good use. Bounce is a great idea because there are no age restrictions and you and your tot will burn of some energy and frustration. To find a branch near you, visit

For more ideas on fun activities click here:

  1. Remember that this is just a phase

This can serve as a gentle reminder to appreciate your time together. Kids really do grow up too fast, but you might not realise this because you’re caught up in your responsibilities. Enjoy your toddler and make every second count. Enjoy being her hero, because you’ll miss the cuddles and the spontaneous I-love-you’s when she ventures off into the world. So in the midst of surviving, remember to live!

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