They used to say it takes an entire village to raise a child. These days it’s rare to find even two people raising children. Most of us have to do it all on our own. We are called single parents, and we should be wearing big S’s on our chests because Superpeople is what we are. How do we do it all by ourselves? It takes hard work and discipline, and a sip or two of wine on the weekends doesn’t hurt either. If you want to get down to logistics, as in – how do you work and take care of a child at the same time – which many new single parents may be interested in, here’s how it’s done. It won’t be easy at first, but you’ll get the hang of it before long.
1. Know That You’re Not Alone
The first step to working as a single parent is to know that you are not the first person to raise a child all by yourself, and you certainly won’t be the last. Single parenthood is becoming very common. This could be seen as a sad fact, but it can also be liberating. One positive point in this regard is that you have an entire community of individuals who would love to support you. They may not want to give you money, but they’ll give you plenty of advice if you ask for it. Look up online communities made up of single parents just like yourself and you’ll find more tips like these. If nothing else, you’ll hear personal stories that may sound familiar. They’ll give you hope that you can do this; that you are capable. Sometimes hope is all you need to push on.
2. Try To Work From Home
I am fortunate enough that I’ve managed to build a freelance writing business that allowed me to quit my day job and work from home full time. I succeeded in doing this before I had a kid, but it’s never too late. When you work from home, you find that you no longer have to give half or nearly all of your paycheck to someone else for childcare. Daycare is friggin’ expensive, and no one will ever love or care for your kid like you can.
If you can write, design, or if you love bookkeeping (or if you have some other skill someone else will pay you for), start advertising your services. Look on Upwork, Elance, and even Craigslist. You may have to work a day job before your freelance business takes off, but there is nothing like being able to raise your kid and work simultaneously. The alternative is only being able to see your kid a few hours a day before it’s time to go to bed, and that’s no way to live (or raise a child) at all.
3. Rally Family and Friends
If you absolutely must work a day job to make ends meet, get family and friends to help you out. Instead of paying a daycare to watch (and potentially beat) your child, ask family and friends to do it. Familiar faces will typically charge you much less than daycare would, and you at least have some solace that they won’t mistreat your child while you’re not around. You still might want to invest in one of those nanny cam teddy bears just in case.
4. Make Plenty of Lists
Whether you work a day job or work from home, household responsibilities are going to pile up. Laundry has to be done, bills have to get paid, dinner has to get made, and clothes have to be bought. Then there are school supplies, homework, and bedtime stories. Put all of these items on a list that you will follow throughout your day. Because if there’s one thing that’s a given when you are a single parent, your memory is going to become shoddy.
You are going to freak out at times and most days it will seem like the world is up against you. Again, realize that plenty of people have done this before you, and you can manage the workload, even all by your lonesome. You just have to remember what needs to be done, and you have to work at everything bit by bit until it is all done. Lists can help you do this. Smartphone apps can also help. The more organized you can make yourself, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel and the fewer bottles of wine you’ll want to sink to the bottom of.
5. Take It One Day At A Time
Some days are going to be damned hard, and few will be easy, but when the going gets tough take a moment to remember why you’re doing all of this. You’re paving the way for your child to have a better life and a future worth living for. So while you’re toiling away at your day job, or you are working from home, or you are shopping for groceries, and you find yourself falling asleep over the handle of the shopping cart, try to find time to smile. Look around and realize that plenty of people have it way worse than you. Some people can’t have children at all. Even though you have to work hard to provide for yours, you still get to go home and tuck your little one in at night. I don’t know about you, but that leaves me feeling pretty damned great at the end of the day.
6. Have Patience and Teach Your Child to Help Out
Whatever you do, never take your frustrations out on your child. Even when you feel completely up to your eyeballs in responsibility, and you find yourself cursing the universe for leaving you all by yourself to raise your youngster, none of that is your little one’s fault. It’s not the universe’s fault. But whether it’s your own choices or your former spouse’s, none of that matters. You’re living in the here and now, and you always have to make the best of it. Try to smile when you’re spending time with your kid, and laugh as much as possible.
While you’re at it, teach your kid to help you out. Even if your son or daughter is very small, he or she can still help you carry groceries from the trunk of the car into the house. Your kid can even help put those groceries away. Every little bit helps. You’ll finally get some of the help you need, and you’ll be teaching your child some responsibility in one fell swoop.
You may be reading this while you are working. Or you may find yourself looking for a job after being left by the one you wanted to depend on, and you’re scared to death of doing it all on your own. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, there are others in your shoes, and plenty have done it before you. Things could also be worse. You might be alone without your son or daughter to keep you company. That little person is the one you are working so hard for. Let that knowledge be your guide, and you’ll get through all of this just fine. You might have a few gray hairs by the time it’s all said and done, but that’s a small price to pay for having one of the most important jobs in the world – that of a single working parent.
Are you a single working parent? How do you balance the two roles effectively?