Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. Add to this the pressures of parenting solo while trying to juggle a career, and you pretty much have to be a real-life superhero. We understand the challenges of trying to put the food on the table when you are a single mum.
In addition to sending you a virtual margarita (cheers!), we are here to offer some practical solutions. If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to balance it all, never fear. There is help for single parents working full time.
SUPPORT FOR SINGLE MUMS WITH FULL TIME JOBS
Regular Paid Child Care
Chances are, if you are working full time you will need some form of paid child care. The Australian government offers support for single parents working full time with the Child Care Subsidy. The type of assistance you will receive does vary depending on your individual circumstances. Factors include things like the age of your children, hours per week required and family income. The Child Care Subsidy isn’t perfect, but it does make paying for child care that little bit easier. This can only be used for approved care such as long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in home care and occasional care.
If you have school aged children, investing in a part time nanny could be a viable option. For some families, having someone to do the school drop off and pick up is enough to make their day easier.
Even if you are working you may still be entitled to Family Tax Benefit. Read our benefits guide for single mums to learn more about your entitlements.
You can do some research on what care alternatives are available in your area. For example, some church groups and other organisations offer before and after school care, as well as action packed holiday programs.
Finding a babysitter you can trust can be useful if you work at unusual times or on weekends. But, try to book in early to avoid missing out. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider asking your child’s favourite day care worker if they are available after hours. Look for someone with good references, police clearance and first aid training.
Using Your Network
By simply asking those in your trusted network, you may be surprised that people will often be happy to offer help to single mums working full time. Family will likely be your first point of call, and grandparents may be happy to spend the extra time with their grandkids.
If you don’t have this option, your parenting connections could be a valuable resource. Carpooling and play dates could be an occasional lifesaver when you are in a pickle, or become a more regular arrangement. It could be just a lift to an after-school activity that makes a difference. When you have friends that understand your situation they will usually be more than happy to assist.
You can make it up to them by returning the favour, and giving them a break when you do have a night off! Plus, networking with those around you could lead to some awesome new friends for yourself!
Having trouble meeting people? The best way to make new mum and dad friends is through your kids. Hosting a party or playdate for your child will allow you to meet other parents. Put your number on the RSVP and you might just make a lifelong connection.
There is nothing wrong with admitting you are struggling with work, parenting and keeping your house in order. Depending on your budget, a cleaner and gardener could give you a much-needed respite. There are even ironing services available!
Some parents find that just by having a cleaner come in fortnightly, or monthly, it is enough to lighten the load. As your children get older they will be able to help more around the house. This will teach them to be responsible.
Flexible Work Options
Popping your child in the baby carrier and taking them to work is probably not going to be the best option. But, this doesn’t mean your employer won’t be flexible in offering support for single parents working full-time. If you feel comfortable having this discussion with them you might find a solution.
This could be spending some time working from home, or altering start and finish times. Even just having an employer who understands you may need a day off when your kids are sick will go a long way.
If flexibility in your workplace isn’t practical, perhaps your ex is in a different situation. If you do have an amicable relationship with the other parent, you may consider adjusting the care arrangement to suit your roster. Or, another option would be to consider a career change. You might be lucky enough to get a job with flexible work hours which doesn’t require training.
Take Care of Yourself
A healthy and happy mum will be a better mum. Don’t feel guilty for taking time to look after yourself. Book in for that haircut or manicure. Find a child-friendly pampering service if you need to. Read a good book on the train, attend a gym class. Gyms will often have a creche available.
If you are feeling the pressure, don’t be afraid to reach out. There is emotional support available for single parents working full-time, and it is only a phone call away. If you are feeling overwhelmed you can try these numbers:
Parentline offers free counselling and support for parents 1300 30 1300
Lifeline offers a free counselling service nationwide 13 11 14
The Family Relationship Advice Line offers support for separated families 1800 050 321
Online groups can offer you the support you need, day or night. The right group will give you other single parents to talk to in a positive, supportive environment. You will soon realise there are people in a similar situation and you are not alone. You can join thousands of other single mums on Facebook with the Beanstalk Single Mum Vine.
This tip is really just to stop you from going crazy! Organisation is key to a smooth weekly schedule. Just ask organisational guru Marie Kondo. This could be as simple as meal prep or planning on the weekends (get the kids involved). And, having everyone’s outfits ready for the week.
Depending on the ages of your children you can get them to take ownership of certain tasks. This could mean them dressing themselves and following their own routine. Rushing around in the morning is only going to cause you unnecessary stress. Schedule some quality time with your kids each day. Our favourite time of day is dinner at the table, and a special bedtime story.
The Last Word
There is support for single parents working full time. This could be either physical help such as picking up your kids from school, or emotional help where you have someone to talk to.
So, throw away the parental guilt and remember you are doing a stellar job in raising your kids. Sometimes, the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rings true. Your children will always remember you working hard to give them what they need.