Surviving Unemployment as a Single Mom
Unemployment as a single mom can be scary and overwhelming, whether you have recently lost your job, were underemployed, became your family’s primary provider, or are returning to the workforce. It’s easy to feel trapped as you think about how you will provide for yourself and your children. But here are several steps you can take to alleviate your concerns and find a job.
You have so much to offer and are more resilient than you realize. You may be dealing with stress or depression or struggle with feelings of low self-worth because of your job search, but be kind to yourself. Don’t let these emotions steal your motivation and optimism. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that hope “encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father” (“The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 22). With the help of your Heavenly Father, you can move mountains.
Cultivate your network by connecting with those who are close to you. Family, friends, and ward members, including your home and visiting teachers and your bishop, are important resources. When they know that you’re looking for work, they can refer you to companies they know are hiring and people in their network who can help with your job search. Consider asking for help with job leads, résumé writing, and interview preparation. Don’t be afraid to also ask for support in your day-to-day responsibilities, including child care, household repairs, your calling, transportation, or whatever else you need to make ends meet and get back on your feet. If your family’s immediate needs aren’t being met, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Most communities have programs that support single parents. Research what is available in your area; from educational and training programs to job listings and financial assistance, there may be more resources for single parents than you realize. It may be difficult to know where to begin, but one way to start is by contacting your local employment center for a list of these community resources. You may also want to connect with other single moms to find out what resources they are aware of. Ask for help in applying for these community resources, and remember to be your own advocate and keep trying.
Once you’ve identified available programs or resources, apply for those that you qualify for and that fit the needs of your family. As you research options, don’t forget to include LDS Employment Resource Services. You can visit an employment center and attend the Career Workshop, find a job coach, and enroll in the Accelerated Job Search program, or you can use the online services at LDSJobs.org. If you’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period of time or feel you don’t have the skills you need, consider contacting your bishop for a referral to the Deseret Industries program or development counseling.
Ask Someone to Be Your Job Coach
A job coach can help you discuss your job search goals, career goals, and plans to achieve them. They can help you identify what is working and what is not working in your job search and suggest ways to improve. For more information, read the LDS Jobs article about choosing a job coach. In addition to a job coach, you might also want to participate in the Accelerated Job Search program or visit an LDS employment center.
Seek Out a Mentor
A mentor is someone to turn to when seeking career improvement. Different from a job coach, who gives general job search advice, a mentor is someone who is knowledgeable about your field. He or she provides advice about long-term career goals and can answer career questions that arise. Choose someone you look up to or someone whose life path you aspire to follow. Mentors can be individuals from your family, ward, stake, or other social circles.
Make Your Job Search a Priority
An American Time Use Survey in 2013 shows that women who are not employed tend to spend more of their time caring for others and doing housework than nonemployed men do. Caring for your children and taking care of needed housework is important. But if you find that your days are consumed with these activities and that they don’t allow you sufficient time to dedicate to your job search, you’ll need to make some adjustments. Do what you can to maintain a routine as if you already have a job. Wake up at the same time, get dressed as if you’re going to work, and spend the time you would have spent at work looking for a new job. The 15-10-2 method is a great way to plan your day and make progress in your job search.
Take Care of Yourself
Stressful situations can take a toll on your health. Take the time you need to maintain balance and peace and to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health while you are unemployed. Eating right and getting enough sleep are more important than ever as you fill your day with activities to help you meet your employment goals. And during this potentially emotional time, make a conscious effort to address your emotions head on; don’t ignore your anger, fear, loneliness, or sadness. If needed, seek help from friends and family or reach out to professional resources. Don’t forget to continue doing the things that you enjoy and that bring you peace, and find time to focus on gratitude and service—both powerful tools to help you feel optimistic and fulfilled.
Include Your Children
Your children are a core part of your life; don’t forget to include them in your job search too. Refer to 9 Ways to Help Your Family during Unemployment for specific ideas about how to counsel together, help your children feel secure, and strengthen them during this challenging time.
Put Your Faith in Heavenly Father
Unemployment brings a lot of tough decisions. Remember that Heavenly Father is mindful of your circumstances and can help you with whatever you need. Seek for spiritual guidance through prayer and scripture study about what is best for your family, and consider fasting and attending the temple. Your faith can be an anchor during the uncertainty of seeking employment.