How to Survive and Thrive as a Single Mother this Mother’s Day

Experiencing my first

I remember my first Mother’s Day, it was in 2009 and I was a Single Mother and although my family tried to make it special for me, I still felt left out. I had dreamt about my first Mothers Day and being woken up with breakfast in bed, a little hand written card from my son or daughter and being spoilt as we had done all the years for my Mom but mine was different and it left me feeling a bit left out and disappointed. Truth be told I had set myself up for failure, I had placed such a huge emphasis on what society says is the perfect Mothers Day that I missed the significance of the celebration and although my family included me into their plans they had and my Mother even bought me my first Mothers Day gift I was left feeling slightly sad.

Last Mother’s Day, our ministry received an email from a broken single mother who had a similar experience. The pastor of her church invited all the mothers in the church to stand as their husbands prayed over them. It turned into an extended prayer time that left this single mother standing alone with tears streaming down her face, as she mourned, once again, the loss of her marriage. It angered her. She wrote us to exclaim that she would never attend her church again. She was adamant that her pastor should have been aware of her aloneness.  We encouraged her, prayed with her, and insisted she stay connected.

The truth is, for many who are single mothers or once were, hurt from the past that hasn’t been dealt with can be triggered by something as beautiful and simple as a church’s mother’s day celebration. Much of my hurt on that Mother’s Day so many years ago was due to my open wound that had not yet healed. My hurt, anger, and bitterness flooded through my heart as the tears flowed from my eyes that afternoon.  For many single mothers, this Mother’s Day may pose similar concerns.

Mothers Day and Single Mothers

Moving forward I had promised myself that I would never feel that miserable on Mother’s Day again. I needed to grow a pair for the sake of my son and start living my life. I accepted the fact that our lives were different and I couldn’t compare our situation to anyone else’s. I accepted that although overwhelmed, I could be a single parent, I had a support system and I could provide for us. My son was happy, he was healthy and thriving and now it was my turn to ditch the breastfeeding bra and oversized clothes and start looking after myself.

The responsibilities a single parent faces are no different than 2 parents households except for one main thing, you are on your own. There is no tag teaming or sharing responsibilities and this may be daunting but let me tell you from my experience – YOU WILL SURVIVE. It will take a shit load of tears at times, it will drain you of your lasts (energy, time, money, patience, sanity), it will challenge you in ways you had never imagined but you will make it through. You will find your feet and you will grow.

Hoping that these handy tips will help you thrive this Mothers Day;


Start a new tradition with your family this Mother’s Day. Whether its making breakfast together and letting the kids help, having a picnic on the beach or eating ice cream on the Promenade – forget all other expectations and live in the now. Look at what Mother’s Day means to you, is it a day to get away from the kids and spoil yourself? Do it. Or is it a day to be thankful for the gift of life and spend every moment with your kids in PJ’s, eating junk food on the couch while having a movie marathon. Do what is best for you and your family, but most importantly, have some fun.


Teach your children about Mother’s day. Your kids may be too small to fully understand the meaning behind the day but that doesn’t mean you can’t start the conversation. And if your children are old enough then tell them what you would like for Mother’s day and let them earn money to buy it. I’m not saying a new Marc Jacobs watch, but even a chocolate from my kid is worth pure gold.


Spend the day with other single Moms. Surely you’re not the only single mom you know. Why not host a single Moms lunch at your place. Celebrate the day with other Moms who may be going through a rough patch or need some encouragement.


Make Mother’s Day a “YES” day. Forget about the rules of parenting and your every day schedule. Forget about doing the washing and adulting. Instead say yes to new experiences, new adventures wherever they may lead you. Do you want ice cream and waffles for breakfast? Say yes. Do you want to lay on the couch watching movies with a giant bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine? Say yes.


Join a volunteer group and do something special for another Mom in need on Mother’s Day. I may not be a single Mom anymore but I know how much I needed support and encouragement in the early days (dude it was rough). This year I will be joining the lovely ladies over at Cape Town Embrace for my first #MothersDayConnect. All we ask is for 1 hour of your day to make a difference in the lives of another Mother. If you’re keen to join us then take a look at their Facebook page for more details.

Dear Single Mom,

I see you this Mother’s Day morning
I see you patiently changing diapers through the fog of 3 a.m.
I see you waking up at sunrise to make your kids breakfast
I see your dry-shampooed ponytail
I see you trying to forgive yourself for things that aren’t your fault
I see you working so hard to make perfect choices
I see you loving your children so much it fills up your whole life
I see your overwhelming gratitude that you are a mother on Mother’s Day
I see your sadness that it’s not how you thought it would look
I see your beautiful children who know they are loved every minute of every day
I see the wonderful childhood you are giving them
I see you cherishing every moment, even the hardest ones
I see the peace in your heart as you breathe in those bedtime snuggles
I see you wanting to share stories about your kids after they are asleep each night
I see your bone-tired superhuman efforts
I see your invisible daily labour
I see you trying to be everything to everyone
I see you parenting with no map
I see your laughter
I see your tears
I see your sacrifice
I see you protecting
I see you recovering
I see you healing
I see you hoping
I see you doing the best you can

Bonnie Koehn

Mother, Writer, Life Juggler

I have the deepest admiration and respect to all single mothers, whether it was by choice or circumstance, remember that you are doing an amazing job. It may not always be easy but you will pull through. I hope your Mothers Day is a blessed one.

If you’re a single Mom I’d love to hear what you and your family get up to on Mother’s Day.


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