When you see a man out with children alone, he gets praised, and everyone thinks he’s such a good dad. He gets smiles and nods for being awesome and giving the mother time off. When you see a mother out with her kids alone, something implies she is struggling just to leave the house. She gets sympathetic eyes and head tilts. Before you speak, know that these are things to never say to a single mom if you see one out alone with the kids — no matter what.
We understand that sometimes word vomit spits out before it can be stopped. But if someone were to stop and look, they would see that a single mom out with the kids has her hands full — literally and figuratively. From juggling drinks, snacks, the purse, and possibly a diaper bag to having eyeballs on all kids, the cart, and making sure a child isn’t putting things in the buggy that don’t go there, it’s a lot to be in a store with kids.
The hands are quite full.
Boy, oh boy, do the kids keep everyone busy. From teachers to coaches, kids don’t let adults stop moving. Even if the child isn’t in sports or other extracurricular activities, kids keep you busy no matter what, even with basic day-to-day routines. Have you timed how long it takes to get a toddler dressed lately?
Wrangling tiny humans keeps everyone busy. “It takes a village” isn’t a suggestion.
No one does. Whether you are single, married, co-parenting, or raising children some other way, no one knows how to do it all of the time. Does anyone? We all have days — kids or no kids — where we have no idea how we managed to get through things. Like anyone else, single moms make decisions one step at a time and get the work done.
They couldn’t tell you how they do it, either. Except maybe with a lot of coffee.
If you’re bursting to say something but don’t know what, we love your empathy. There are things to say to make a single mom feel better when out with the kids, instead of making her feel like the world is judging her.
Helpful things to say or do
- Your kids look so happy
- You seem like a loving family
- Here, let me grab that item from the top shelf
- You dropped a shoe, let me grab it
- Here, let me hold the door open for you
We all let those intrusive thoughts pop into our heads from time to time. But we want you to know what things not to say to a single mom when she’s already carrying the entire weight of the family on her shoulders. She’s thinking about what to make for dinner, if every kid is within reach, and if she brushed her hair today. Be kind and show her she has support out there.