Being a single mother has been the hardest task I’ve ever conquered. I’ve tried every work life balance you can imagine. Working from home, working nights and trading off with any number of child caretakers.
There will always be the feeling that I’m not doing enough. Life can get overwhelming and isolating. I want to be the most elegant of the elegant moms. I am not that. I am, however, blessed with understanding and resilient children that I’d like to think they got it from me.
In all of the child care options and programs I’ve put my sweet and almost perfect children through, I can honestly say there is no winner. I know I need to work and I can’t do 100% of my job and be 100% on their wave leaning. Even if I weren’t on my own, that’s just not possible.
Traditional DayCare Program
Choices for day cares abound. It may not be as hip, but for a mommy of Pre-K aged kids, I saw it as a valuable resource. Getting them socialized made them quite friendly and conversational. I definitely felt it prepared my oldest for school.
Many moms are normally tentative because there are so many horror stories about day car employees. While those concerns are valid, staying as involved and informed as possible is a key. You can’t have eyes on the kids for the rest of their lives. Traditional daycare was an exercise in my own trust as a mother as well as my communication with my kids. The choices your kids make interdependently can really empower them.
When working nights and weekends, my nanny was my savior. At an hourly rate rather than a weekly, I could set schedules that would work flexibly. In my case, the nanny was a college student looking for extra cash. Boy, I did love the nanny.
These benefits for me were great, but my kids definitely had it better. Being able to have a younger authority to relate to was a nice way to teach them respect and following rules. They also got to play and hang out in the comfort and safety of our home rather than being out and about. They ran on their own schedule rather than one that was laid out for a whole group of kids without consideration for their individual needs.
Keep your expectations for the nanny concise and create clear boundaries to keep things from getting tense. The major downside to the nanny approach is that they still are an individual with their own individual needs.
Grandma and Grandpa
Not everybody has the benefit of parents to look after the grandkids. If you do, use it! Sure, the kids eat more sugar and watch too much TV, but this is a two birds, one stone babysitting option that can’t be beaten. Keeping clear and concise boundaries with your family is also a must.
Any family member that is willing to spend quality time with my kids is more than welcome to. As a single mother, I want my children to feel the support of the family unit. It is important to me that the relationships they can have are strong ones.
This makes it easy for me to get work done on days my kids are out with the family. It also means surrounding them with family love.
You know what they say about raising children: It takes a village. They are spot on. A popular babysitting trend that generally costs little to no money is the kid swap.
Think of it as a Co-op for babysitting. One night a week you take somebody’s kids and one night a week they take yours. When there is more than one parental unit involved, this can mean having more time off and more kids at your place a few times a week. It may be a little more emotionally demanding to have a lot of kids over at once, but once there is routine it can be worth it for the money it saves.
While this is most commonly for parents looking to get a night out, I’ve benefited greatly from trading with other single moms for the day. It gives me piece of mind knowing that my child is playing the day away with a friend that he knows rather than with a large class of kids he doesn’t.
So which of the options is my favorite? I don’t think I have any favorite thing that keeps me from the kiddos. Daycare did make them more friendly and conversational but the nanny was so simple and fulfilling. I’d like to believe there is no simple answer, but that you might find the right fit for you and your kids.