Whenever my husband is out of town on business, I’m struck by one thought: How do single moms do it on their own? Juggling kids is hard even when you’re got a two-man team; moms doing it on their own deserve all the kudos and support in the world. On the support front is Marika Lindholm, founder of ESME, which stands for Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere. Her mission is to support solo moms and help them connect and find valuable resources as they go it on their own. Read on for more about ESME and how Marika hopes it’ll help moms!
How did ESME get its start? Why were you inspired to help Solo Moms? ESME.com (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere) launched July 15 so we are a VERY young site, however, the idea was born when I was a divorced mom struggling to do right by my young children, work full-time, manage the stress of divorce and also stay healthy. I always felt like no matter how hard I worked, I was failing at something — usually my health. I vowed, that one day, if time and resources allowed, I would work to make the Solo Mom journey easier for others.
I remarried, had another child, adopted two more, quit my job and started talking to all my solo mom friends about what they needed. Resources and support were obvious but I wanted to make sure I got it right. Being a trained sociologist, I spoke to solo moms in California, New York, and Illinois to find out about their fears, concerns and struggles. Those conversations increased my respect for all moms parenting on their own. Common themes I discovered were solo moms:
– are proud of themselves
– work to be the best moms they can be despite the added challenge
– feel hurt by stigmas and stereotypes that demean their situation
– seek validation that their kids will be OK
– don’t only want to be identified by their solo mom status
– want to find solo moms with shared circumstances such as cancer, depression, kids with special needs, etc.
The site was designed with all their voices in mind. ESME tackles the hard subjects, provides useful information but isn’t afraid to be slightly edgy and find humor in the challenges that solo moms must overcome.
Any success stories? It’s too early to know if solo moms are feeling supported by our community but we’ve gotten incredibly positive feedback. It’s obvious that our content is striking a chord and that solo moms are happy to have a site that is designed just for them. ESME’s team is mostly comprised of solo moms so it’s incredibly validating and exciting to know that each day we are all working on behalf of solo moms in so many ways. We’ve been able to recruit some amazing talent to the site because of our mission. For example, authors Domenica Ruta, Nicole C. Kear, Nancy Sharp and Angela Ricketts were all persuaded to contribute their immense talent to the site. We also give solo moms who aren’t professional writers a chance to share their wisdom and expertise. For example, Kristy Summers and Mika Yamamoto reached out during our Beta phase and now write for us. Another scenario is the case of Stephanie Land, a struggling writer who we asked to write about the challenge of securing safe housing and getting a college diploma as a solo mom. Not only is Stephanie thriving, she’s now been contacted by an agent and plans to write a book. It’s never boring in our office because every day we hear from solo moms who persevere.
Best thing a Newly Solo Mom can do to start the adjustment? Be kind to yourself and build a support network. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo mom by choice or circumstance, there are going to be some VERY tough days. Build a network of emotional and practical support — the people you can cry with and the people who will pick your kid up in an emergency. There are mom apps to help meet moms in the same community and of course ESME.com can connect you to other solo moms with shared circumstances that really understand what you are going through.
Any tips for making it easier for the kids? And does it depend on the circumstance? Obviously one’s specific circumstances impact the ability to solo parent, but there are basic truths that can make being a solo mom a little easier.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. So what if your kid wore the same socks three days in a row?
- Improvise. One of our writers explained that she would have her four little kids brush their teeth over the bathtub at the same time because it was the right height and all done at once. Brilliant!
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help so you can have a day or an hour to yourself. You are no good to your kids if you are toast.
- Give yourself a pat on the back. You go girl for being there every day loving and caring for your kids. Solo moms deserve gold stars and parades but instead we forget to take pride in how much we are doing right. Solo moms rock!
A big thanks to Marika for sharing solo mom wisdom. Any solo moms out there? Any tips for survival? —Erin