9 Single-Parent Childcare Problems — and Really Realistic Solutions

Navigation childcare as a parent, no matter the time of year, it can be a challenge. From work conflicts to partners’ varying schedules to unexpected sick days throwing the entire house into chaos, riding (or sometimes accelerating to a speed that feels like 90 miles per hour) on the struggle bus is real .

But for single parents, child care issues can be even more difficult and cause more financial stress than for couple parents.

“Unlike two-income households, the stress and financial cost of childcare also makes us consider leaving the workforce, but we have no other income to fall back on,” says Christine Michel Carter, author of “MOM AF”. “Many of us live below our means and save – but they should save a little more. We also budget, work to reduce our monthly bills, travel and eat out less, and reduce our use of credit. We control what we can, but the lack of affordable child care is a problem we cannot control.

Do you feel like you can’t take a break? Here, single parents share their methods for tackling some of child care’s biggest challenges.

“Many of us live below our means and save. We control what we can, but the lack of affordable child care is a problem we cannot control.

— Christine Michel Carter, author, “Maman AF”

1. The challenge: finding daycare

Like many single parents, Carolynne Harvey, single mother and founder of Dream of baby sleep. That being said, connecting with (and maintaining relationships with) one’s community, particularly other single parents, was instrumental in securing child care.

“I always tried to find a mom friend at my daughter’s school who was open to babysitter sharing”, she notes. “As a single working parent, it has always been difficult to find affordable care during the summer holidays. Sharing a babysitter with another working parent is a great way to save money.

2. The Challenge: Paying for Clothes, Food, and Other Supplies

Andrea Arterbery, a single mother and freelance journalist, relies on local community services and programs to help clothe and feed her son, especially during the busy back-to-school season. She recommends other single parents do the same.

“Do your research,” she says. “Watch the news and read city newsletters to see what resources are available for you and your children.”

She says that often (including in her school district) schools provide free meals and clothing to children if parents ask. “Try to take the time to do some research to find what resources are available in your area and find the things you need.”

“As a single working parent, it has always been difficult to find affordable care during the summer holidays. Sharing a babysitter with another working parent is a great way to save money.

— Carolynne Harvey, single mother and founder of Dream Baby Sleep

3. The challenge: feeling guilty for not being “involved enough” at school

One of the biggest challenges for single parents is dealing with feelings of guilt, says Anton Shcherbakov, co-founder of ThinkPsych and licensed clinical psychologist. “Whether it’s not having enough energy to play with your kids or feeling like you’re not spending enough time with them, it’s a constant battle,” he says. “I think this feeling is particularly strong among single parents, because their time, energy and money are often even more limited than those with a partner.”

Harvey understands this feeling well. “Back to school is always exciting and stressful,” she says. “But if none of the classroom volunteer opportunities fit my schedule, I would meet with the teacher and ask for other things I could do (instead). I firmly believe that if you don’t have a village, build one.

4. The challenge: struggling to work remotely when the kids are home

For single parents working remotely and faced with an unexpected sick day for their child, accessing all items on their schedule and staying focused can be a challenge. Harvey says it’s important to set boundaries and rules in these cases.

“Being a working parent is hard, being a single working parent is even harder,” Harvey says. “It’s still a nightmare find adequate and affordable childcare to accommodate a rotating parental schedule. She notes that even if a babysitter or nanny were present, her daughter would still want to see her, knowing she was in the next room.

Her solution to stopping her daughter from continually asking for mom: “I would ask her to make a pile of toys that she wanted to play with me when I was done working instead of coming into my home office,” Harvey says. “I would also plan a snack or lunch with her. Growing up, I would ask him to write down his questions and slip them under my door.

5. The Challenge: Managing Workplace Bias Against Single Parent Work Ethic

“The biggest challenge single parents face when it comes to working (remote and in-person) is overcoming the biases placed on them. » Carter explains. She says many of the single parents she speaks to in her advocacy work feel like they are judged for seeking more flexible hours or as less dedicated to their work.

The solution, she says? Keep your receipts handy. “Keep weekly monitoring of feedback on completed projects, because if performance was deemed exemplary, there is no excuse for biased feedback and sarcastic comments,” she shares, emphasizing that you have the proof that you can perform.

6. The Challenge: Feeling Guilty When Kids Use Their Phones to Entertain Them

“I have no problem saying that as a single parent, my co-parent is Apple,” Carter says. She notes that when her children return to school, she works with them to help them regulate their habits and use their phones in healthy ways.

“I have an unconventional rule: When they get home (from school), they have to spend 30 minutes decompressing before tackling homework,” shares Carter, adding that sometimes this includes time in front of a screen. “A conventional rule is that they have an iPad at bedtime, usually an hour before bedtime, to decompress the screen.”

Bottom line: Carter tries not to punish his kids for using screens, ultimately, because “they didn’t buy them, I did!” »

“I learned not to be hard on myself. I no longer blame myself if the clothes are not put away after washing them. I’m taking it one day at a time and learning to enjoy the journey.

— Andrea Artebery, single mother and journalist

7. The challenge: feeling like your only identity revolves around taking care of your child

Making time (and money) for downtime as a single parent is naturally easier said than done. But as Carter explains, just one three-hour session once a week can make a plot good.

During this time, she can meet up with her friends, get a pedicure, or just go for a run outside. “I don’t think single parents really think about the time we spend with our kids at home,” Carter says. “It’s exhausting to be in the same neighborhood, and if you can schedule time to get away, it makes all the difference!”

8. The challenge: even an individual session once a week does not seem feasible

For Elizabeth Mitchellan early childhood teacher and single mother, on days (or weeks) when “me time” seems incredibly difficult, she calls other single parents in her community.

“I try to organize social events with other single parents where I can invite people to our house or plan days where I invite my children to play, in exchange for my son coming to their house next time,” she says.

9. The challenge: The dishes keep piling up

“Don’t worry about the little things,” Aterbery says. “I learned not to be hard on myself. I no longer blame myself if the clothes are not put away after washing them. I’m taking it one day at a time and learning to enjoy the journey.

Another piece of advice Aterbery hopes all single parents adopt? “Don’t be afraid of therapy,” she says. “Prayer, therapy, family and my tribe are what get me through the (sometimes busy) days.”


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