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4 simple strategies for single moms to manage stress during a job search

Career Development

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The alarm clock buzzes and wakes you from a sweet, deep sleep.  You open your eyes and tell yourself, “It’s another school day – let’s go!” and you get up to start the grind once again.  You wake up the kids, and then you stagger to the kitchen to fix their breakfast while you simultaneously pack their lunches.  Next, you make sure they get dressed and get them out the door. Wait! One of the kids forgot their homework!  Quickly, you rush them out the door to get on the school bus.  It’s only until they are on their way that you realize that you are still in your robe and hungry!

Being a mom is both rewarding and challenging.  But being a single mom is even more challenging.  When you are a single mom who is also searching for a job, the stress level can feel overwhelming.  A job search requires focus and perseverance, both of which require you to tap into your best self.  

If stress begins to take over your thoughts and emotions, it is important to reevaluate and reverse course so you don’t burn out.  Here are some strategies for single moms to help lower the stress level while looking for a job:  


As a single parent, priority #1 is your child(ren), and let’s face it, they require a lot of attention.  There is no getting around the reality that you have very little free time in your schedule, and undertaking a job search will also put a demand on this scarce resource.  But if you are strategic about how to use your time wisely, you can dial down your stress level.  

The first step is to identify times in your schedule when you have time by yourself.  That concept might seem foreign to you and require you to prioritize differently.  For example, can you get an extra couple of hours to yourself each day by waking up an hour before the child(ren) or staying up at night after they’ve gone to bed?  If your child(ren) takes a nap or if he/she goes to school, how about using that time for your job search?   Or if you currently have a job, could you make some progress on your job search during your lunch hour using your cell phone?  

Once you have pinpointed the most opportune times in your schedule, the next step is to block off those times on a physical calendar.  Place the calendar in a spot that you see frequently – perhaps on the refrigerator or on a kitchen cabinet door.  Here’s an example of how time blocking would look:

Displaying a time-blocked calendar can be an effective reminder that you do have time to focus on your job search, and you CAN make it happen!


Now that you have time blocked on your calendar for your job search, you will need to use some of that time for taking care of yourself.  You might be thinking, “What does that have to do with looking for a job??”.  Due to the unforeseen variables that are out of your control, a job search will likely be stressful.  Self-care helps to manage your stress which can positively influence the outcome of your job search. Below is a list of suggested self-care ideas:

  • Meditate/pray: Try taking a few minutes each day to get quiet and focus on one thing to be grateful for.  This can be a powerful practice and can set the tone for your entire day.
  • Exercise: Move your body throughout the day – talk a walk, stretch with yoga.
  • Grooming: Pampering yourself doesn’t have to be expensive.  A mini-facial, conditioning your hair, or a mani/pedi can be a great way to lift your spirit!

Give yourself permission to do something for yourself.  Pay attention to how it lowers your stress level and makes you feel confident.  Before you know it, you will ace your next interview!


Do you have the mindset “I don’t need help from anyone.  I’m capable of handling myself and my family all by myself.”?  Being a single mom has no doubt strengthened your ability to multi-task and make difficult decisions on your own.  You may even see yourself as “Super Mom”!

But there are times in life when getting support from others can be a real game-changer.  In the context of a job search, it could be the determining factor that could help lead to nailing the job interview.  Which, in turn, could lead to getting a job that has better benefits and a higher salary.  Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Call 2-1-1 to talk with a community resource specialist who can connect you with local help and resources.  
  • If you are unemployed, seek organizations that provide job training and coaching at no cost.  
  • When you are in a job search, there will be times when you will need childcare (for example, to go to an interview).   If you have family/friends nearby, make them aware of your situation and ask if you can call them if you need help.  Another option for child care services is your local YWCA.


Stress can be sneaky.  We can unconsciously put stress on ourselves without even realizing it.  One way we do that is to create unrealistic goals that are not achievable.  Here are a few hypothetical examples of how we do that:

  • I can apply to 5 jobs a day (Reality: Applying online is not a quick process.  Do you really have enough time in your day to accomplish this?)
  • I can interview on any day and at any time that I’m offered (Reality: Do you have childcare arrangements?  Do you have reliable transportation?)
  • I will apply for any job no matter what the job requirements (Reality: Unless a job posting indicates “No Experience Needed,” you should be strategically searching for jobs where your resume can show that you have the required skills/experience)

If you find yourself feeling like your job search is going nowhere, take an honest look at your expectations and readjust your goals.  You will discover that your stress level will decrease as you set yourself up for success.

In conclusion, single moms have one of the hardest and most stressful roles – to raise their child(ren) alone.  Undertaking a job search often puts additional stress on the mom and can sabotage a job search.  By applying these simple strategies, you can successfully land your next job with your sanity in place!


Leslie is the owner of LM Virtual Services – “When you need another you”. As a Virtual Executive Assistant, she helps bring harmony to overwhelmed business owners. In her spare time, Leslie enjoys reading, exercising, and volunteering. She is a member of Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Leslie is married and the proud mother of an adult son.

Connect with Leslie on Linkedin.