Let’s just get one thing straight – money is not always nor the most immediate need of a single parent. I’ll tell you as one who’s been a single mother for a considerably long time, money and time are the most scarce to a single parent, but time is way more valuable than money. A single parent may need money to cover expenses, to meet the needs for the home or even to just get by even if it’s the bare minimum. But time… time is more precious than anything.
Time to remember to breathe. Time to slow down and rest. Time to remember who they are again. Time to enjoy their children and cherish the moments. Time to feel normal and reflect. Time for errands. Time, quality time that is, for each child. The list could go on and on. Years ago, my Freshman 101 professor would always say, “Time waits for no one.” Time is the one thing that will never wait for you, save itself for you, and would always leave you hanging.
I preface this so you can begin to get an idea on what you can do to help a single mom or dad out. The best way to help a single parent is to be their friend, by getting to know them and letting them get to know you, the real you. Whether they live next door or across town, give them your phone number and let them know you can be reached for help with a specific need or just to be a shoulder to lean on. As trust develops, let them know that you’re available to help with their kids, too, and show them that you’re someone they can count on. See the theme is all this? It’s TIME!
The following list of “20 Ways to Help a Single Parent” will help you think up new ways to lend a hand to your single parent neighbor, coworker, or friend
1. Offer to Spend Time with Their Kids
Especially for single parents who don’t have family nearby, this is a huge gift. Just make sure that you’ve gotten to know them well enough that he/she can trust you before spending time with their kiddos without them. It’s a big deal for parents to leave their children with anyone, and you’ll want to make sure both parent and child are comfortable with you before you take this step.
2. Have Their Kids Over for a Play Date
Especially if you have children who are close in age or attend the same school, this is a great way to get to know a single mom or dad and and their children. Even just those few minutes of conversation during drop off and pick up times can be a breath of fresh air to a single parent who doesn’t get to spend much time with their peers.
3. Invite Them Over for Coffee
Here’s another low-key way to get to know a single mom who lives next door to you or who works in your building. In addition, having coffee doesn’t imply a big time commitment, and if you invite her to bring her kids along, it will be that much easier for her to say “yes.”
4. Make Them a Meal
We all have nights when cooking is just too much to bear. Double up on a recipe you’re already planning to make, and bring a duplicate for them to store in a freezer for another day.
5. Pass Along Coupons You Don’t Use
If you’re a skilled couponer (or clicker, if you hunt for coupons online), share the ones you’re not going to use with a single mom or dad who can also benefit from the savings. In addition, if you subscribe to a coupon site that has been particularly effective for you, show them how it works so they can reap the savings, too.
6. Share Your Kids’ Hand-me-downs
Be tactful, of course, when you make this offer. Don’t assume that her children need clothing or would feel comfortable in the same styles your children have worn. Instead, gently inquire as to whether she would be interested in seeing some of the things you’ve set aside. Be considerate and only offer gently used clothes without worn out, torn out or faded out.
7. Show Them the Best Thrift Stores in the Area
I, for one, don’t know what the big shame is about. Thrift and consignment store have changed throughout the years and have been known to offer really good steals. Shopping at thrift and consignment stores can significantly cut your clothing budget, but good ones can be hard to find. If you know of a reputable thrift or consignment shop in your area, tell your single parent friend about it and offer to go there together.
8. Give Them a Gas Card
One of the many hats single parents where is one of a driver. Having to
9.Leave a Bag of Groceries on Their Doorstep
Now, you can choose to do this anonymously or not. Sometimes that unexpected bag of needs is what gets a struggling single mom through until her next paycheck! I know I’ve been met with unexpected blessings and it restores and renews my hope every single time.
10. Include Thier Kids in Your Carpooling Group
If you’re going to be driving your own kids—and perhaps others in the neighborhood—to school or summer camp, offer to include their children, too. They may be in a bind for transportation and feel reluctant to ask for help or don’t even know help is available closer than they think.
11. Recommend a Mechanic When She Has Car Trouble
Unfortunately, some auto repair shops will take advantage of a woman in need of assistance, by overcharging her or by recommending fixes for minor repairs and things that aren’t really broken. Save her this trouble by recommending a mechanic you’ve used personally or one who is known for being trustworthy.
12. Give Them a Ride
Whether the car is in the shop or public transportation is down temporarily, offer to give them a ride on occasion—especially if you’re going in the same direction, anyway.
13. Volunteer to Pick Up Her Kids in an Emergency
Especially if their a single mom or dad with no family in the area, they may not be sure who to put down on her children’s emergency contact forms. Let them know that you’re available to help in emergencies and give them your home, work, and/or cell phone numbers so you can be reached in an emergency.
14. Be the Back Up Plan For Snow Days, Delays, and Early Dismissals
Snow days are great fun for kids, but they wreak havoc on a single parent’s carefully constructed schedule. Help a single parent who lives next door or in your neighborhood by volunteering to provide backup childcare when needed.
15. Offer to Run an Errand
Are you running out to the library or dollar store? See if they are in need of anything that you can pick up. This is especially helpful for single parents with young children, who may have difficulty making the time for regular errands.
16. Invite Them to Attend Church or a Community Event With You
Every family needs a community of support. If you’re involved in a ministry, life group, church or civic organization, invite them to join you for an upcoming meeting or event. Be sure to let them know that this is a “no strings attached” standing invitation.
17. Pray for Them
Pray for them individually, for their children, as a whole family unit.
18. Help Her With Home Repairs
Would you be willing to help a single mom you know
19. Ask Questions
Let them know that you care by asking questions about them and their children. When people show an interest, it’s easier to open up and build authentic relationships.
20. Validate Her as a Person
Many single moms and dads have experienced difficult and even oppressive relationships. Let them know their worth the effort it takes to build a friendship, and when you can, be specific about what you value about them as a person.
Most Importantly, Be A Friend
This is the most important thing you can do for the single mom or dad you live near or work with. Everyone needs positive, uplifting relationships, and as adults, it can be difficult to form meaningful, no-strings-attached friendships. Being that type of person for them is one of the best ways to help a single mom or dad you care about.
I hope this list of ideas could be a starting point for you when considering lending a helping hand to a single parent you know. If you have more ideas we could use to update our list, please share below and tell us about how it blessed them.