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  • Writer's pictureLayne Philipson

Single Mom Struggle Series: Childcare

Welcome to my SIngle Mom Struggle Series! I will be writing on a host of different challenges single moms face. Instead of just airing grievances, which honestly feels therapeutic, I will do my best to offer my best tips on how to navigate the challenges. This series is supposed to be interactive, so comment below your experiences, what topics you think would be good to cover, and any tips you have that can help mitigate our collective Single Mom Struggles.


On today's episode: navigating childcare.



So, what seem to be the most common challenges faced by single moms when it comes to childcare?


Financial Constraints


The day that financial constraints aren't number one on a list like this is the day that they tell us the moon actually is a floating ball of swiss cheese.


Single mothers often bear the sole financial responsibility for their families. This means that affording quality childcare can be a significant challenge. The cost of daycare, after-school programs, or hiring a nanny can consume a significant portion of their income. And there's the whole transportation of it all! Many single moms find themselves having to make difficult choices between paying for childcare and other essential expenses, such as rent, utilities, or groceries. Even if you get child support (which many don't), you probably feel like the default parent who picks up what feels like countless extra expenses.


Tips:


You have the typical create a budget, spend carefully, and some may even say save some money. A lot of us aren't in a position to save money, and we are already probably budgeting as best we can now.


Consider taking on a part-time job. If you are struggling particularly right now, a part-time job might be a temporary solution that can give you some breathing room. Try to utilize the network you are forming to help resolve some childcare concerns.


Look for ways to improve your craft - more and more employers are offering tuition assistance programs. This is a great way to improve your future employability and enhance your performance at your current job. So many programs are online these days, so it is easier to take a course, two, or three each semester, and move at your own pace.


Check out your YMCA! If you're not able to go down the college route or are not interested in doing so, your local YMCA probably has some classes you can take to improve your financial literacy, and they offer daycare so you can focus with your little one supervised right next door.


There are also plenty of government resources out there, including SNAP, EBT, and WIC. Each state has its own offerings and can help subsidize the cost of childcare. Look into your state's options (type in Google "childcare subsidy in [your state]. Grants are also a great option, and most don't require residence in a certain area - just apply online!


Tell me, though, are you a single mom who makes too much to qualify for these programs but not enough to feel financially secure? Leave me a comment below if you identify with that and what you think could help fill that very real financial grey area.


Limited Support System


Unlike dual-parent households, single mothers may lack a built-in support system to help with childcare. You probably don't have a partner to share the responsibilities or family members nearby who can pitch in when needed. This lack of support can be particularly challenging when faced with emergencies, illness, or unexpected changes in work schedules. Single moms often find themselves juggling multiple roles, from caregiver to breadwinner, without the option to delegate tasks or take breaks when needed.


Tips


Look to see if your area has a MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers). They usually have some meet-ups and other events, so it's a great way to meet people. You're probably not going to be the only single mom there so it's a particularly good way to meet other moms who are experiencing the same challenges as you. Facebook groups are also great - look for Mom groups in your area and you will find people you click with!


Think about offering to help each other with childcare. Explore ways to pool resources and share childcare responsibilities among the group members. This could involve setting up a rotating babysitting schedule, where each mom takes turns caring for each other's children. Sleepover exchanges and carpooling alliances are also solid ways to secure dependable, free, and fair childcare support. You could even consider co-housing arrangements where families live together and share household duties, including childcare - I hear this is growing in popularity!


*Sometimes, these groups have events that mostly happen during the day on weekdays. Not exactly ideal for us who don't have that kind of schedule flexibility. I think it's good to explore MOPS (or something similar) in your area just to establish some sort of community, and work your way out from there.


There are lots of online groups and support networks that offer mentorship, employment coaching and resume reviews, parenting advice, and other single parents who face the same struggles as you do.


Balancing Work and Childcare


Finding a balance between work and childcare is a constant struggle for single mothers. Many are forced to work multiple jobs or irregular hours to make ends meet, leaving them with limited time to spend with their children. Even if your job offers great flexibility, sitting next to your child during bathtime can make you think about how little time you might have with them at night. Many moms experience a lack of flexibility in their workplaces which can make it challenging for single moms to attend school events, doctor's appointments, or other important milestones in their children's lives.


Tips


Create a routine. This is probably the most important part of setting you and your child up for success when it comes to balancing work and childcare.


Look into remote work, but proceed carefully... I have experienced remote work while my son was a newborn through ~9 months. I know it is the only option for some, or better than the other options. But I just wanted to warn you that it can sometimes be glamorized, with many jobs not okay with your kiddo hanging around too. It can be great, but it's also not for everyone. I feel like this idea gets thrown around a lot, but working remotely can have significant challenges. Yeah, you can technically have your child home with you, but you are still working what is probably a full-time job that requires attention and focus. Just look carefully into the telework agreement and make your situation clear to your employer - don't try to hide anything.


In my experience, remote work while having my child at home can be extremely difficult and was not for me at that time in my life. Be careful of falling into a trap of only being able to give 50% to work and 50% to your child because of your work-from-home arrangement.



A great alternative to full-time remote working is a hybrid style, where you can work from home some days and go into the office others. This is a great way to balance childcare (part-time childcare is usually much cheaper), and you won't feel as overwhelmed by staying home all day every day - for me, this helped a lot in feeling guilty that I sometimes felt like I was only giving 50% to work and 50% to my child all day.


Understand that balancing work and childcare is an ongoing process, and there will be days when things don't go as planned. Be flexible and patient with yourself, your child, and your work commitments, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.


I'm going to do more posts on full-time working moms and childcare, so sign up for my email list for updates!


Finding the Right Resources


Take advantage of community resources and support services available to single parents. Many communities offer parenting classes, support groups, childcare subsidies, and referral services that can help you access the resources you need to manage childcare effectively.


Tips


If you are religious, a natural way to start utilizing community resources can come from a church. I have heard great things from my friends who support single moms at their churches and know that these people only want to help others. If you don't go to church regularly and want to start doing so, take this as an opportunity to expand upon your faith while also building a strong community. Most churches also have childcare, so you can embrace services while knowing your child is in good hands.


If you are not religious (like me), you can still find abundant resources out there. Some church programs offer emergency funds to low-income or struggling families regardless of their degree of involvement with the church or beliefs in general.


Dial 2-1-1 on your phone if you need help identifying specific options in your local area. This number will direct you to the resources that best fit your needs where you reside and can be more informative than general advice.


Read! If you can't because you're too busy, listen! There are tons of books (physical and audio) out there that lay out the struggles of single moms (and let's be real, parents in general). I love audiobooks because I can play them on my commute to work, and it gets me pumped for the day. Audible is the BEST for this! Try Audible Plus and you will not regret it, trust me.


(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience which means if you purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission at NO extra cost to you! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)


These aren't childcare-specific, but they can help focus your priorities, stay motivated, and hopefully help with mom guilt (more on that below).


For motivation:


  1. The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children Paperback – October 17, 2017

  2. The Successful Single Mom: Get Your Life Back and Your Game On! (The Successful Single Mom Book 1)


For support from faith:


  1. Fix It Jesus! For Single Moms Only: The Straightforward No-Nonsense Guide To Passion, Purpose, & Prayer

  2. The Single Mom's Devotional: A Book of 52 Practical and Encouraging Devotions

  3. The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make: A Biblical Guide for Navigating Family Life on Your Ow


Guilt


Yeah, single mom guilt is REAL, and you might feel that you are relying "too much" on childcare to support your little family. I'll do a blog post on that issue separately because it's so powerful, but just know that it's okay to feel that way and it's also okay to lean on your childcare support network to ensure you and your child have happy, fulfilled, and overall awesome lives.


Tips


If your child(ren) is of language comprehension age, keep an open line of communication with them and involve them in age-appropriate discussions about childcare arrangements. Listen to their concerns, validate their feelings, and reassure them of your love and commitment as their parent. Encourage them to express themselves and offer choices when appropriate to help them feel empowered and involved in the decision-making process.


Your child might not be of that listening comprehension age. This can almost feel worse because you can't explain to them why you have to drop them off at a friend's or have them stay an hour later daycare.


Stay connected with your child's daycare providers and communicate with them regularly. Also, trust yourself and your decisions! Daycare and other childcare exists for a very important reason, and you utilizing that resource (maybe some days more than others) is a reflection of the amount you care about your child. Don't let anyone, including yourself, think negatively about that.



Accessing Professional Support for YOU


Don't hesitate to seek professional support if you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with the demands of single parenthood. Consider reaching out to a therapist, counselor, or support group for single parents to receive guidance, encouragement, and practical advice. Talking to a professional can help you navigate challenges, develop coping strategies, and build resilience as you navigate the journey of single motherhood.


The emotional toll of being a single mom can be overwhelming at times. From loneliness and isolation to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, single mothers often grapple with a range of complex emotions. The pressure to be the sole provider and caregiver for their children can take a toll on their mental health, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression. Despite these challenges, single moms demonstrate remarkable resilience and determination as they navigate the ups and downs of parenthood.


Tips


I totally get that therapy can feel cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. You don't have to go into the office with the options listed below, and their prices are very competitive (don't be afraid if they don't take insurance, their prices are competitive!)


Talkspace and Betterhelp are great options for individual therapy. If you are trying to work through co-parenting, check out Regain for therapists specialized in relationship management.


(I am not a medical expert or therapist myself, so my recommendations are not authoritative - I have experience with both Betterhelp and Regain, so trust my experience! I have heard great things about Talkspace too).


By implementing these strategies and seeking support when needed, single moms can effectively manage childcare while navigating the challenges of parenthood with resilience and determination. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and communities available to support you on your journey as a single parent.


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Well, that's a wrap! Please comment below your thoughts, your frustrations, or whatever you want to say when it comes to the issue of single momming and childcare. Thank you so much for reading!


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