You already know that being an accountant is tough, and being an accountant and a mom is tougher, but being an accountant and single mom should seriously come with its own awards ceremony! As a single working mom, you probably feel like you’re running a marathon every single day while only being trained to walk a 5k at best.
If you’re like most single working moms, you’ve probably experienced loneliness, fear about supporting your family, and not being sure whether you can do all this on your own. With the current pandemic, these issues and more are even more stressful and overwhelming.
With less people you’re able to be around, more restrictions to adhere to, and the added complications of either co-parenting or having no other parent around, more and more single working moms are finding it challenging to balance it all. What was already difficult before the pandemic, has now become even more demanding and exhausting.
I’ve been a single mom, so I know how difficult it is to not only navigate a divorce while managing an accounting career, but also how to deal with the aftermath. Honestly, transitioning to having two full time jobs, one in accounting and one in single parenting, was one of the most challenging times in my life.
Thankfully though, whether you are divorced, widowed or consciously chose to be a single parent, being a single mom does not need to derail your career aspirations. The time of single motherhood doesn’t have to be a time of just survival; it can be a time of flourishing for you and your children.
The workplace support of single working moms has improved over the years, but waiting for companies to catch up with what single moms need, is abdicating your power. No matter what is happening in the world right now, it’s time for you to take charge of having a successful accounting career as well as being the best mom you can be.
I can tell you firsthand that the extra challenges you’re facing right now are truly making you a stronger, more resilient woman. And don’t think that you’re children aren’t watching how you navigate being a single mom and an accountant; showing them what’s possible when faced with challenges as well.
This week I’m going to discuss the importance of getting support, being honest about what you need, tweaking your priorities and dropping the guilt.
You’re already smart, capable and driven – all qualities that make a successful accounting career possible. However, these qualities can also make it difficult to acknowledge that you can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all – especially as a single mom.
There’s no shame in needing support as a working mom, but it’s even more vital as a single working mom. It’s okay that it takes a village to raise a child, but it’s also okay that it takes a village to support the single mom raising that child.
After my divorce, I also had a hard time admitting that I needed more support. I thought I should be able to handle it all, and that it made me look weak to ask for more help than I was already getting as a working mom.
The first thing I needed to do was address my limiting beliefs that I should be able to do this all on my own and the belief that my children shouldn’t have to pay the price for their parent’s divorce. Those beliefs weren’t useful and were keeping me unintentionally overwhelmed.
Once I was able to humble myself to the fact that I didn’t need to do it all by myself, I actually saw the courage and strength it took to ask for support. Reaching out to other single mothers, requesting more flexibility from work, and having my children take on more responsibilities at home made it all possible.
In my experience, it’s so important for single working moms to know that needing and getting support isn’t a sign of weakness; it shows that you are strong enough to know what you need and brave enough to ask for it. So stop apologizing for what you need and start getting clear about what would help you to do, and be at your best for your sake and for your kids.
Thankfully, I worked for a firm at the time that supported me and allowed me the flexibility I needed but if that wasn’t the case, I definitely would have considered going out on my own. Just know that in this technologically advanced time we’re living in, you have options and shouldn’t feel stuck if you’re not getting the support you need at work.
Just the fact that you are listening to this podcast is important because being a part of the CPA MOMS family means you’re never alone. Your struggles might feel unique, but we’ve all had them too which means you don’t need to feel afraid or embarrassed to ask for help and support.
Tweak your priorities
As a single working mom, you are literally doing two full-time jobs with no weekends off. There is rarely anyone within 5 feet of you that you can say “Tag, you’re it” when you don’t want to get up and get the kids dressed in the morning.
I know it’s tempting to be Wonder Woman at work and at home, but until you’ve slowed down the roller coaster of financial, emotional and relational changes that single working moms face, it’s best that you readdress your priorities. What was important before you were single, may not need to be important right now.
After my divorce, my ex-husband moved 2 hours away so I was solely responsible for picking my children up from school and doing all the after school things with them. Since it wasn’t feasible to pay someone to fill that role, I needed to really address and tweak my priorities for the time being.
I needed to get my accounting work done in the office, but also leave by a specific time, therefore I started working on managing my mind and my time in a way that made me more efficient and productive than ever before. I spoke to my boss about both of our expectations, and I formulated a way to meet those expectations.
Having beds made every day and making something homemade for the PTA bake sale were taken off the list of home priorities. Answering every client email the second it came in and reading every tax article as soon as it was published were taken off the list of work priorities.
By also getting clear that other people’s judgments don’t matter, especially about what it took for me to manage it all, it was much easier to create the new normal for my family. Things like having groceries delivered on Saturday mornings saved me precious time that I could spend with my children and for my self-care.
Let me just say, from one single mom to another, you get to lower your high expectations and give yourself a break. If you can hire someone to help clean your house or you have the flexibility to do some of your work remotely, do it without feeling guilty about it.
Since accountants tend to have perfectionist tendencies, it’s really important to notice when perfectionism is rearing its ugly head. You’re not doing yourself or your children any favors striving for perfection or kidding yourself that you’re not.
As far as priorities go, the greatest priority you can have as a single mom, is really for your own self-care. It’s important for any working mom, but especially for single working moms who take on more, give more and expect less than anyone else.
When you make yourself a priority, everything else will be much easier to manage. Just like you can’t fill other glasses from an empty pitcher, it’s especially important to continually prioritize filling up your pitcher so you can fill the glasses around you.
During the time I was a single mom, joining a local monthly book club with other moms and going out with friends on the weekends my kids were with their father were ways I could fill my pitcher up. I definitely found I had more patience at work and at home when I made my self-care a priority.
It can be challenging for accountants to try to do anything other than A+ work, but as a single accountant mom, you’ve got to give yourself a break and accept that striving for perfection is only going to cause you and your children more stress. For your own sanity, start tweaking your priorities, allow B work to be okay, and accept that you’re not supposed to do it all or do it perfectly.
Drop the guilt
If there’s one thing that’s universally true for most working moms, it’s mom guilt. Unfortunately, it’s even harder on single moms because we tend to allow the weight of our situation to weigh heavily on our shoulders.
If you carry guilt about being a single mom around like a large, heavy purse, I’m going to suggest that it’s time you switched to a much smaller purse. The feeling of guilt is rarely useful because it doesn’t inspire positive action or gets you the results you actually want.
As a working mom, you may have already been experiencing guilt, but being a single mom can open the door to “guilt on steroids”. It can seem like the list of things to feel guilty about just keep growing and growing.
When I became a single working mom, things like needing to reschedule a client visit because of a sick child or forgetting to put lunch money in a backpack, became a bigger guilt-ridden catastrophe than when I was married. Where before I was able to shrug it off, now it became another thing to add to the pile of things to feel guilty about as a single working mom.
At the time, I was talking with a therapist who told me, “Children would rather be FROM a broken home, than IN a broken home”. She pointed out that I was doing so much that was right, but just wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge it.
Even at work, I wasn’t giving myself credit for everything I was doing well. I realized that when I felt guilt about something work or home related, I actually wasn’t as efficient and productive as I wanted to be, which detrimentally affected my work.
Over the years I’ve used the analogy of growing a plant, when it comes to the subject of guilt. When we “water” the feeling of guilt, we end up with a weed or some unwanted type of plant; when we choose to water the feeling of patience, love or appreciation, we end up with a beautiful flower.
Therefore, when it comes to guilt, it all depends on which plant you choose to feed. As a single working mom, you just can’t afford to have a garden full of guilt-weeds; you and your children deserve a much prettier garden to come home to.
Whether it’s feeling guilt for something at home or at work, guilt just isn’t a useful emotion. It doesn’t fuel any helpful action, often creating more inaction than anything.
Think about it – what did you actually do the last time you felt mom guilt? If you’re like most single working moms you probably spun out in more guilt-ridden thoughts, were unable to focus and be productive at work, or overcompensated with the kids by relaxing the rules or buying them unnecessary things.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your children is work on dropping the guilt. Once I accepted the reality of the situation and dropped the mom guilt, it was much easier for me to succeed at work, to be the best mom I could be, and to have a much better single mom life.
Again, this is where the perfectionist tendencies of accountants can make being a single mom and an accountant so challenging, creating the feeling of guilt when you aren’t able to achieve some arbitrary standard of perfection. When you drop the need for perfection, you also get to lessen the mom guilt as well.
So whether you need to get more support, to challenge and change your priorities or to end the struggle with mom guilt, you CAN do this. From one former single mom to another, you’re going to look back at this time and be incredibly proud of how you handled this chapter of your journey.
- If you’re like most single working moms, you’ve probably experienced loneliness, fear about supporting your family, and not being sure whether you can do all this on your own.
- It’s okay that it takes a village to raise a child, but it’s also okay that it takes a village to support the single mom raising that child.
- I know it’s tempting to be Wonder Woman at work and at home, but until you’ve slowed down the roller coaster of financial, emotional and relational changes that single working moms face, it’s best that you readdress your priorities.
- The feeling of guilt is rarely useful because it doesn’t inspire positive action or gets you the results you actually want.
- As a single working mom, you just can’t afford to have a garden full of guilt-weeds; you and your children deserve a much prettier garden to come home to.