The Power of Mentoring Women for the Single Mom

Carol is a single mom. She gets up each morning at 5:30 a.m. to prepare breakfast and lunches for her two children ages six and ten and tries to find a few moments for herself. At 7:30 she is out the door to drop the kids off at the sitter down the street who will take them to school. It’s already 8:15 and Carol has to be at work by nine. She is a supervisor at a department store and manages day to day operations. Carol rarely has time to take a lunch or break because she is doing the job of two people with no end in sight. Her day ends at 5:30 and she rushes off to her second job as a mother. She sits in traffic thinking of the work ahead.

Once she picks the kids up it’s time to run by the store, get home to cook dinner, monitor homework, spend quality time with the children, prepare for tomorrow and then it’s bath and bed time. Carol manages to complete some paperwork she brought home from work and then drags herself to bed to start all over again tomorrow. If this story sounds familiar you’re not alone.

Historically, women have been the glue that holds everything together. No wonder it’s been said that women carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Where is it written that we have to play the role of super mom and super woman? When we give into this concept we might be setting ourselves up for failure.

There was a commercial in the 80s that expressed this sentiment. The words were “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, ‘cause I’m a woman double-u-m-a-n.” This is a reality for most of us. We are perceived as being able to do everything.

As a group of women with similar issues mentoring can be an essential necessity in our lives. It is perfectly okay to reach out for that extra support when needed. We don’t have to feel guilty for doing so.

Mentoring provides a special bond between women that allows them to share common experiences and generate solutions. A mentor is someone you can feel comfortable with discussing female-related topics. We can always use an ear to talk about child care, time management in our lives, health, relationships, career and finances. What better person to talk to than a woman who can personally understand our obstacles, barriers and sexism in the workplace and at home. Mentoring, not only entails career guidance and support, but also personal, psychological and social areas of our lives.

There are so many demands from our families and at work that women need to have someone they can turn to for advice and to ease some of the pressures that we deal with. To connect with someone that has walked in our shoes or understands our position means we can influence each other positively, enhance our self-confidence and self-esteem, and help each other to keep our dreams and goals alive and at the forefront.

I already know what you’re saying, “I’m already holding down a job, managing dance and piano lessons, laundry, grocery shopping and the list goes on and on. What if I want to go back to school to increase my career opportunities? When would I find time to be a mentor or mentee? It is apparent in this day and age women are left to figure out how to balance marriage, a family, work and still find a way to drive their own personal ambitions.

Even though life can be hectic at times, try to be open with others to share your wisdom. Mentoring women and being mentored can be an opportunity to inspire and uplift each other with your knowledge and successes that have been achieved. When we talk to other women it is comforting to know that we are not alone. Our problems can very well be the same ones that they are experiencing. It can be a freeing and healing opportunity. We need an outlet to express our fears and frustrations openly and without judgment.

There are numerous organizations and programs (corporate, private and Christian) if you should make a decision to become a mentor or need mentoring. You also have other options. You can have these discussions with friends or relatives that you can confide in and that will be supportive of your situation. Whatever you decide remember to take time for yourself. Remove that pressure to be everything to everyone. This saying was told to me and I would like to share it with you.

You’re only one person and can only accomplish certain things in the time you have. It’s especially crucial that you carve out some “me time” because if you run yourself into the ground, you’re not going to be much help to yourself, let alone to the people around you! Find time for yourself and then honor that appointment.

DR. KAREN JANUARY is the author of Lessons Mama Never Taught Me can be purchased for Kindle online at or in hardback at Visit Dr. January’s website to read a sneak peek as well as learn more about her. Dr. January is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an administrator and educator, the founder of a nonprofit that focuses on mentoring at-risk children, and a speaker on women’s issues. She resides in the greater Chicago area.

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Written by Dr. Karen January