When my son was two years old, my then-husband was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. It wasn’t the first time, but it was the last test for me. Without hesitation, I packed up all my belongings and left.
When you become a new mother, your identity changes, but when you become a single mother, your identity disappears completely. My life has become a series of hours of survival. I lost my dreams and goals because of the busyness of my daily life. I had to focus on taking care of my son. My sense of self became intertwined with my role as his sole caregiver. Being a single mother brought shame, depression, and feelings of helplessness, all of which were compounded by my anorexia and anxiety diagnoses. I felt broken.
I vividly remember my son sleeping with his shoes on every night after we left and crying about how he wanted to go home. When we finally settled into our place, I decided to give him some comfort. I spent hours designing his bedroom with his favorite colors and toys. On his first night in his new home, he finally slept alone in his own bed for the first time and said, “This is my cozy space.” That’s when I started to regain my confidence and realized the importance of having a safe and secure home.
My personal journey has given me a deep appreciation for the impactful work undertaken by the organizations I have the privilege of leading. I am currently the Executive Director of Dwell with Dignity. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to supporting families with children, especially single mothers fleeing poverty, homelessness, and domestic violence – amazing women who have overcome the most difficult situations and emerged from the most difficult situations. I am. adversity. We achieve this by designing and installing complete home interiors free of charge.
The impact and trauma of homelessness for young children is devastating and long-lasting. Half of homeless school-age children experience anxiety, depression, or social withdrawal, compared to 18% of non-homeless children. But through our work, we have experienced how innovative design can break generational cycles of poverty. Our approach, focused on creating beautiful and calming designs, was successful. In 2022, 100% of the families we served maintained employment, secured independent housing, and achieved self-sufficiency. Additionally, in 2022, 100% of families saw positive changes in their children’s overall behavior and academic performance.
A stable home is essential for the mental and emotional health of single mothers. Having a space to call my own made me feel whole again. It provided routine, structure, and safety. I felt empowered to build a bright future for myself and my children.
How to create a safe space for your child at home
- Give your child a comfortable space. No matter your budget, you can always create a dedicated space for your child in your home. It can be as simple as a cozy corner of your living room, a mini-library, or a wall to display your child’s work. Having designated spaces for activities and interests helps children feel confident and secure.
- Give your child a say in their space. Children have opinions and want to share them with you. Take them along to pick out art, blankets, or eating utensils so they feel agreed and heard.
- Create predictable routines. Children grow up with predictable routines. They feel safe knowing what will happen next. Create a schedule that works for you and your child and stick to it as much as possible. For example, try setting regular bedtimes, mealtimes, and playtimes.
- Promote open communication. Communication is important to building a stable family. Encourage your child to share their feelings and thoughts with you and actively listen to what they have to say. When children feel heard and acknowledged, they are more likely to feel safe and confident.
- Spend quality time together at home. It’s important to spend quality time with your child, whether it’s playing games together, cooking together, or just chatting and catching up. Doing activities together helps build trust between you and your child.
As a former single mother, I understand the struggle to rebuild a life and provide a safe and stable home for a child. Since then, I’ve realized that having more shelter than just her four walls and a roof can be life-changing. It should be a place of comfort, love, and safety.
Dwell with Dignity has discovered that by designing and installing complete home interiors, we can help families overcome the obstacles they face and give hope to families in need. By providing meaningful and beautiful homes, we are able to help single mothers and their children achieve independence and build brighter futures.
This story is part of The Motherly Collective contributor network, which features stories, experiences, and advice from brands, writers, and experts who want to share their perspectives with our community. We believe there is no single story of motherhood and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and providing expert-led content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this amazing journey. If you are interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective, click here.