The best way to help a single mom is to be her friend, by getting to know her and letting her get to know you. (And the same thing is true for the single dads you know!) Whether she lives next door or across town, give her your phone number and let her know that she can call you when she has a specific need or when she just needs someone to talk to. As trust develops, let her know that you're available to help with her kids, too, and show her that you're someone she can count on. The following list of "50 Ways to Help a Single Mom" will help you think up new ways to lend a hand to your single mom neighbor, coworker, or friend:
1. Volunteer to watch her kids.
Especially for single moms who don’t have family nearby, this is a huge gift. Just make sure that you’ve gotten to know her well enough that she can trust you before you volunteer to take care of her kiddos. It’s a big deal for her to leave them with anyone, and you’ll want to make sure she’s comfortable with you before you take this step.
2. Have her kids over for a play date.
Especially if you have children who are close in age, this is a great way to get to know her and her 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 mom who doesn’t get to spend much time with her peers.
3. Invite her 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 her a meal.
We all have nights when cooking is too much to bear. Double up on a recipe you’re already planning to make, and give her the duplicate to put in her freezer.
5. Give her coupons you’re not going to use.
If you’re a skilled coupon clipper (or clicker, if you hunt for coupons online), share the ones you’re not going to use with a single mom who can also benefit from the savings. In addition, if you subscribe to a coupon site that has been particularly effective for you, show her how it works so she 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.
7. Show her the best thrift stores in the area.
Shopping at thrift stores can significantly cut your clothing budget, but good ones can he hard to find. If you know of a reputable thrift or consignment shop in your area, tell your single mom friend about it and volunteer to go there together.
8. Give her a gas card.
Many single moms are responsible for driving their children long distances for visits with the other parent. The next time you’re buying gas, consider picking up a $10 gift card to share.
9. Leave a bag of groceries on her doorstep.
You can choose to do this anonymously or not. Sometimes that unexpected bag of staples is what gets a struggling single mom through until her next pay check!
10. Include her kids in your carpooling group.
If you’re going to be driving your own kids - and perhaps others in the neighborhood - to school or camp, volunteer to include her children, too. She may be in a bind for transportation, and feel reluctant to ask for help.