Most things get easier with practice. Being a single mom isn’t one of them. More manageable, certainly — but easier? No. It’s never easy watching your child walk away with the other parent. It’s never easy having tough conversations with your child alone. It’s never easy to split up the holidays.

I’ve had two years of practice and I have decided that while our new life is becoming more routine and normal, I don’t think it will ever be easy.

Fortunately, I have great family and friends to turn to for support. Still, there are moments that only another single mom can really understand.

I asked four strong, smart and loving single moms for their best advice for working single moms like me.

You don’t have a partner to tag when you need a break. That doesn’t mean you don’t get one.

Jen Byrum, mom of two teens, Bartender at Webb Custom Kitchen and former radio personality, says self-care doesn’t have to mean a day at the spa.

“There’s nothing wrong with going to your room to chill out without the kids,” she says. “It teaches them independence and to respect that you need time, too.”

Melissa Price sees the transformative power of self-care every day.

“It’s like they say on the airplane—you need to put your oxygen mask on first so that you can assist your kids,” says the mom of two and owner of Burn Boot Camp Mallard Creek.

Price says learning to take time for herself made her stronger physically and mentally. And single moms know, it’s often the mental tiredness that gets you.

You’ve gotta be able to vent, exhale, laugh and curse.

“Being a single mom can get very isolating and sad,” says Byrum. “The pressure of being the sole responsible adult is daunting. “

Leigh Dyer, mom and Director of Public Relations and Publications at The Mint Museum, agrees. She recommends tools such as Meetup or Facebook to find groups of single moms facing the same struggles.

“As a ‘single mom by choice’ who chose a donor to become a mom, my issues are different from those who might be single due to widowhood, divorce, or other reasons,” says Dyer, which is why she recommends finding groups that fit your specific needs.

Bonnie Kunkel, mom of two and a TV news producer, says it helps to have planned outings to get you out of the house on a regular basis.

“Get theater season tickets,” she says. “Join a running club or a book club.  Sign up for event newsletters to find cheap, unique things to do.”

You can only do what you can do.

For Byrum it helps to stop comparing yourself to others.

“The kids’ friends’ homes are all way bigger than mine,” she says. “But ours is cozy. Others go on huge vacations. We go on day trips.”

“I have learned one thing,” says Price, ”I can’t keep over compensating to do more for my kids because I feel badly.”

Kunkel suggests getting your kids on board with a budget by giving them an allowance and showing them how to save: “Teach them to coupon, look for deals and choose restaurants that have ‘kids eat free’ nights. “

And, “Stop going to the big store where you impulse shop, “ adds Byrum.

All the women agree that work and kids alone is not the life you deserve. You need to have something to look forward to. It might be a road trip with other single moms, a splurge, or fostering a new hobby.

“Force yourself if you have to,” says Kunkel.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.