Ok, so honestly, would you work if you didn't have to (as a single parent)? - Mothering Forums
Single Parenting > Ok, so honestly, would you work if you didn't have to (as a single parent)?
Devaya's Avatar Devaya 07:51 AM 03-09-2011

I've been trying for some time to make a decision about work/life balance and whether to go back to work now or only when my son starts school full time Sept 2012.  I'm currently not officially working, and haven't been for a year now - I have worked as a single mother before and found it SO stressful - but I was doing work that I didn't enjoy and which spilled into my evenings and time with my son because it was ad hoc/freelance. I'm very fortunate to live in a country where as a single mother I do not have to work until my youngest child is 7 (My only is now 3), although there is talk of this law changing to when they are five in the future. I want to know from single mothers who have worked for a while in this situation (of being on their own): Would you do it if you had a choice? As in, if money wasn't a factor? The benefits I receive are enough, but not enough in the sense that if anything goes wrong with my car, it's a problem, moving house if I want to (and i do want to) is a problem because of coming up with deposits and so on, and buying the quality of food I would like to is an issue. I would like to be able to go on holidays sometimes and to not have to penny-count about everything. I definitely associate money with success and while I'm not a materialistic person, I do like the freedom of being able to have experiences like go on workshops or courses about things that I'm passionate about, being able to pay for my son to go swimming, etc. I also find it really hard being judged by society as a scrounger who is not contributing economically (even though I count childcare as work, and I work a 60 hour week doing that, even taking into account his preschool hours and the time he's at his dad. Society doesn't unfortunately value this work), and I know I would feel better about myself if I worked officially.

 

My son goes to preschool 15 hours a week but that translates into 11 hours a week with the travel and parking time taken off (his preschool is across town, through lots of traffic). DS goes to his dad one overnight and one day a week, and 24 hours of a weekend every 2nd weekend (which is my 'social time'').  If I worked 16 hours a week, (the minimum in order to qualify for in-work benefits and for my financial situation to be actually better than it is now), it would leave me with virtually no time for my writing(my passion), or any 'me'' down time. . I am also worried about the impact on my son and my parenting as it means that housework and chores etc would need to be done in the times I'm with my son (rather than often while he's at preschool, as it is now), and my stress levels would not doubt increase apace, affecting my ability to be patient with him. I'm not a naturally organised person and all the juggling would be tough. But I would be about 150 dollars better off per week before tax, and it would enable me to start paying off my debt properly which I'm currently only paying token amounts on.

 

I am a qualified yoga teacher and finish my breastfeeding counselling diploma in Oct, so would do a combination of those two for work. Yoga teaching very erratic and unreliable though well paid when it does come along, the breastfeeding counselling not well paid but still better than your average office/retail/service industry job, is more reliable and is doing something rewarding. Im concerned also about the impact of working with people all the time - ie childcare, plus 'helping professions', as I am an introvert who recharges by time alone, and this is essential to me in order to not burn out. Currently while DS is at preschool I do household stuff, sleep, sometimes see friends, write a little and occasionally teach a bit of yoga. Oh, and volunteer at a breastfeeding drop in. But all these things are flexible and I can take or leave them. Once I'm tied in to working, that's it...I will have the pressure, week after week, to keep doing the hours and also finding enough customers etc. My energy levels have been low since pregnancy and childbirth and having a poor sleeper for years, and I still find I am tired and need to nap most days. So... although I would love the job satisfaction and feeling of fulfilment and 'getting somewhere'that working officially would give me, and the money of course would be great, I just dont' know if its worth it. ALso my writing has been so neglected for years due to work and childcare, and this is finally my chance to do something with it now that DS is at preschool. Anyone have any input? If you made it to the end of this post, thanks!



Halfasianmomma's Avatar Halfasianmomma 08:16 AM 03-09-2011

Reading your post makes me wonder what awesome country you live in!

 

If I didn't have to work because money was no object, I wouldn't BUT I would be in school part-time/half-time because I love learning and I love the social interaction that comes with an academic setting. My DD would still go to daycare, though perhaps on a reduced schedule and I'd do my best to integrate some fun educational activities, like going to the insectarium, biodome, library, dance classes, etc.

 

You sound like you have a full life, with volunteering, some yoga, some writing, and managing the home. Despite the financial pitfall, I see your situation as ideal (for now). Perhaps you could make a chart, weighing the pros and cons of your situation and seeing how that would compare to the pros and cons of working part-time. Either way, there will be something to sacrifice. It's up to you to decide how much you are willing to part with, be it alone time, writing time, etc.


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 08:30 AM 03-09-2011

England ;) I also need lots of intellectual stimulation and love learning, which is why I would like more money to do courses/classes. I've even considered doing an MA in creative writing once I'm finished my current studies, as being on financial assistance would make the fees so much more accessible. This country is amazing for the help it offers families in need, compared to most other countries. But there is always a downside to it - I'm not allowed to be out the country for more than 28 days, I have my bank statements scrutinised and have to go for regular interviews to explain what I'm up to. It's a bit weird, but kind of worth it for now.

 

Thanks for your thoughts. Good idea to do a chart - perhaps weighing between 1 and 10 how much of a priority each factor is for me. I'm leaning towards my writing and alone time  being more important than money right now, esp as it is only short term - once DS starts school I'd be working for sure.


josybear's Avatar josybear 08:38 AM 03-09-2011

i wouldn't stay home, even if i've done the sahm thing and it almost killed me. i think it really depends on the temperment of the person, though. some people have the amazing ability to spend day after day with little kids and not feel like they're dying inside.

could you offer to teach free yoga classes at a community nonprofit? start taking some uni classes? i'm sure that it's in the best interests of kids to have a parent with time for them, but it's even better if that parent isn't isolated and bored, you know? maybe explore what's out there and find a balance that works for your kid and you.


rubelin's Avatar rubelin 02:55 PM 03-09-2011

It's a toss-up. I've been a work-at-home mom since my oldest was one, running my small sewing biz, but when DX moved out, I had to take on work with outside clients. If I didn't need the income (really, if I wasn't so scared that nobody is going to buy my own designs), I would not work for outside clients, but I'd continue to create my own things for my business. I'm homeschooling 2 kids and the time juggle makes me really crazy and adds lots of stress when I'm trying to get work done for clients.

 

I actually didn't have any work for clients in the last few weeks so I slacked a bit and spent more time with the kids, and, in the end, I barely got anything of my own completed (and the house was still a shambles). It made it really clear that either the kids get ignored or work does.

 

Now, if my kids were in school full-time, I'd have much less trouble with getting work done.


meandmine's Avatar meandmine 04:37 PM 03-09-2011

In the circumstances you describe, I don't know because I like financial security.

 

If I knew I were financially secure I would stay home.  I did for almost 8 years; it was tough at first, but worth it--our lives were calmer, slower-paced; we had time to read stories and just be; we could take trips and visit museums when they were less crowded.

 

I like what I do for a living, but it is 50-60 hours a week and leaves me exhausted -- my kids lose out.

 

But, that's me.

 

GL weighing your options!


Tilia's Avatar Tilia 05:21 PM 03-09-2011

If I had a choice, I wouldn't work until DD was in school full-time.  Then if I had the choice, I would work 6-3 M-F.  I was blessed to stay home with DD until she was 3, then I had to go back to work.  I've been working full time for 2 years and it sucks as a single mom.  Especially since XH doesn't live nearby, so I can't have him pick her up whenever.


Pumpkin_Pie's Avatar Pumpkin_Pie 05:55 PM 03-09-2011

I always thought I would want to stay home if I could, but I now have pretty much the perfect schedule, and I really am hoping I can keep it that way for a very long time.  I was able to find jobs that I could bring my DS with me to for the first 2 years of his life and at that point I started working 20 hours a week.  I briefly bumped up to full time, but was not able to manage it.  My son was having such a hard time at his daycare and I just couldn't get everything done.  Now I work 9-1 M-F at a job that pays well and DS goes to a preschool that he adores.  I can't really pick him up until after 3 because of his nap schedule anyway, so that gives me a full 2 hours every day after I get out of work to get anything done that I want to do like grocery shopping, going to the gym, etc.  I also am able to get home at a decent hour so I can make dinner, spend a little time with him and get ready for the next day.  I can't imagine a better schedule, and I love the adult time I get at work too.  I love it!


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 10:47 AM 03-10-2011

Thanks everyone for the input. It seems like there is a need for intellectual stimulation, adult interaction and a feeling of growth and development, which often cannot be met by SAHM-ing. I have SAHM-ed for 3 and a half years (except for 6 months when I worked 2 days a week) and believe me it wasn't satisfying a lot of the time, but I don't regret it one bit.  It just can be hard to find a way to move on from SAHM-ing. I never imagined I would still not be working this far down the line - I imagined I'd be back at work after maybe the first year. I find it hard to let go of the idea of being the person who is with my son most - I hate the idea of someone else seeing him more and knowing him more, as we have such a close relationship and I do find our relat suffers as soon as I have too much else on the go.. It's like, I feel guilty if I use daycare or send my son to preschool more than the recommended 15 hours a week, (because I dont essentially have to, money wise), but I also feel guilty for NOT working and feel as if I'm 'doing nothing', even though I know I'm not. The societal conditioning is so strong!

Rubelin, I am amazed how you do it, homeschooling and working from home.... do you have someone at home with your kids when you are working? I wish I could work from home too! I have done bits of freelance writing but I couldn't imagine doing it with DS around, he needs so much attention at this age.

 

The big thing I wonder is, what about school holidays? Preschool is all very well (and free up to 15 hrs a week), but then I need some set up for holidays and that means having to use a childminder and pay for that - even though here, the govt pays for 70 % of childcare costs, that would still be a cut off my (meagre) earnings.I am honestly in awe of all you single mamas who manage this. What kind of childcare solutions have worked for those of you whose kids attend preschool/school?

 

I am considering a third option- studying full time from Sept. I know there is good funding avail for students who are parents and it may even put me in a better financial position than I am now. I am the kind of person who only really gets off my butt about stuff with an external motivation, so I know if I did an MA in creative writing I'd be forced to put a LOT more time into my writing than I do when it's just down to me!


sparklefairy's Avatar sparklefairy 02:23 PM 03-10-2011

My kids are older, and yes, I would work/attend school if I didn't have to at this point. I would prefer to cut back on work and be able to drive field trips and just relax more in general, though.

 

When my kids were that little, my choice was to not work. I did some online school. I wonder now if it would have been better for me to be working toward more goals for myself back then, and if we would have more stability now if I had gotten serious about finishing school sooner.


lilyka's Avatar lilyka 04:09 PM 03-10-2011

My kids are 14, 8, and 10.  I would still stay at home if I could.  I have a small from home job that I do to make a little money here and there.  I wouldn't mind working part time but working full time is just too much time away from my home.  

 

My ex has my kids a lot.  I hate that I have to work during what little time we have together.  I hate that I am always working when they are gone and can't have a guilt free social life or adult time.  I hate that I have to work and miss church, my one source of support and stability.


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 03:30 AM 03-12-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

My kids are 14, 8, and 10.  I would still stay at home if I could.  I have a small from home job that I do to make a little money here and there.  I wouldn't mind working part time but working full time is just too much time away from my home.  

 

My ex has my kids a lot.  I hate that I have to work during what little time we have together.  I hate that I am always working when they are gone and can't have a guilt free social life or adult time.  I hate that I have to work and miss church, my one source of support and stability.


That sounds rough. It's exactly what I'm afraid of, the lack of social time and always working whether its childcare or 'work' work.

 

Sparklefairy, I agree that it's good to work towards goals. With my current studies and writing projects I'm doing that, though...I think paying off more debt can wait another 18 months, but my child's time of being really little is not going to last forever. Part of my conflict though is that I'm NOT the kind of mum who ábsolutely loves ít'', I find it tedious playing with DS a lot!
 

 


mamamoo's Avatar mamamoo 03:05 AM 03-13-2011

If I could swing it I would definitely stay home. I would go to school very part time to work towards my goals. I would be able to homeschool again which we miss dearly. I was a sahm for 11 years and I miss it so much.


Goodmom2008's Avatar Goodmom2008 09:41 AM 03-13-2011

If I had a choice, I would only work part-time. 


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 08:57 AM 03-14-2011

I am making enquiries about the MA I want to do. i wanted to do it four years ago, then got pregnant ;) So it feels very very exciting and very right. I think this is my chance because I can get financial support with the current situation i'm in, but if I wait till I am working and down the line, I might not, making it unaffordable for me. I could either do the course full time 36 hours a week which is pretty hardcore, over one year, or 18 hours a week over 2 years and an additional summer's work to get the Masters. It's tempting to go for it and do 36 hours but I still think my child is too young, so I'm prob gonna spread it out. It will be great intellectual stimulation and I'm so excited about being in an environment with other writers, learning and growing... it's much more inspiring to me than the thought of working, which would have been ok but I would have also resented it b/c it would take time away from both my son and my true passion, writing. This way my only time away from my son (altho i will still work a couple hours a week to keep in the loop with my other stuff), will be doing stuff I REALLY want to do. So fingers crossed that I can get funding and all that! Thanks so much for the input ladies.


meemee's Avatar meemee 09:17 AM 03-16-2011

i am in school fulltime. i am also looking for a job, so i volunteer during the part time job i would have worked. i find as a full time student i feel i work more than if i had a job. when i had a job at least i came home and was free. now i am not exactly sure when i really would be free. but i find student life is a combination of a WOHM and WAHM. classes at school (i hate hate HATE online classes) and hw at home. the good part is on my days i am able to pick up dd and come straight home.  even when i find part time work that is what i'd do. HOWEVER i still have to do hw when dd is home. she is not an early to bed person and so by the time she is in bed i am EXHAUSTED to study after she went to sleep. i am ready to go to sleep myself. however i love, love, love school. i prefer it any day to a job. i've had jobs that i have liked but after a while i get bored. i am the kind that needs different challenges.

 

btw i went back to school when dd was 6. i couldnt pull it off before then. 

 

also be aware that grad school can be pretty hard work. i recall i was not concerned about sick days while i worked. but now at school i just cant afford to miss classes and so i am lucky that dd hasnt really been sick enough that i had to miss classes.

 

i had to go back to work at 2. oh how i hated it and was in such despair. YET i was sooo relieved too. it was only when i started working did i realise how starved i was of adult interaction, how much i needed other adults and how lonely it was being a SAHM (mind you i had a lot of social activities and friends but they were all moms and i'd never really find anyone to talk to anything but children and being a parent). what i hated were the long hours. i was completely exhausted being a SAHM and a single parent and not really a coparent. i think at 2 i would have done really well having a really part time job. for myself. 


darcytrue's Avatar darcytrue 09:56 AM 03-16-2011

How do you make income? I'm not for sure I understand what you are saying as far as where your income comes from?

 

I have 3 kids, one is in school. I have an 8 yr old and 1 yr old at home though and work for my ex, he has his own business. I worked for him the last 16 years so it only made sense to keep doing it. However, instead of paying me he just pays the bills for us and provides what we need. I also get assistance from the state as needed for insurance and food, but that isn't much. I WANT a job and have been stressing as to how I am even going to manage to get myself and 3 kids up every day in order to get to a 9 hour a day job and come home and homeschool evenings and weekends while still trying to have a social life. :(  It's very tempting to just let my ex-H keep doing what he is doing for me and he is all game for it, but that means he will also have some say in my personal choices in my life if I am allowing him to pay my way, so that is why I am having to force myself to find employment full-time, to break away. Although it's so tempting to just stay home and keep working for him so I can be with my girls every day like it's always been. I still haven't let go of that desire to be a stay at home mom and raise my children to adulthood. :(


blessingscome's Avatar blessingscome 01:22 PM 03-16-2011

 

I think that if I had the options you have, I'd work part time. There's a lot of benefit of teaching the benefits of work to your children - teaching a work ethic and so on.  Not that working at home with your children isn't valuable... but my kids aren't seeing one parent work unless I demonstrate it.

 


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 11:21 PM 03-16-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by darcytrue View Post

How do you make income? I'm not for sure I understand what you are saying as far as where your income comes from?

 

I have 3 kids, one is in school. I have an 8 yr old and 1 yr old at home though and work for my ex, he has his own business. I worked for him the last 16 years so it only made sense to keep doing it. However, instead of paying me he just pays the bills for us and provides what we need. I also get assistance from the state as needed for insurance and food, but that isn't much. I WANT a job and have been stressing as to how I am even going to manage to get myself and 3 kids up every day in order to get to a 9 hour a day job and come home and homeschool evenings and weekends while still trying to have a social life. :(  It's very tempting to just let my ex-H keep doing what he is doing for me and he is all game for it, but that means he will also have some say in my personal choices in my life if I am allowing him to pay my way, so that is why I am having to force myself to find employment full-time, to break away. Although it's so tempting to just stay home and keep working for him so I can be with my girls every day like it's always been. I still haven't let go of that desire to be a stay at home mom and raise my children to adulthood. :(



In England single mothers receive benefits and have their rent paid up until their youngest child is 7. I know, I am very very fortunate. The money is only just enough, though - not enough to break out of a poverty cycle or save, which is one of the reasons why I'm considering working.

 

Blessingscome, my child does see me 'work' - he's come along with me to my voluntary job for years until he started preschool, and I have been teaching yoga on an ad hoc basis here and there, which is referred to as 'work'. His dad works full time so he is exposed to that concept. I wouldn't stay at home for longer than another year or two anyway so it's not as if he wouldn't get the work ethic exposure in our home.

 

Meemee, i totally get what you mean about the studying. I love studying too.Í've been studying part time for 2 years now but it's a struggle b/c it's mostly at home - tutorials only once a month - and I find it hard to be motivated at home, to keep up the intellectual stimulation that one gets from discussing with others and being in an academic environment. The happiest I've ever been in my life was being at university and teaching at university as i did years ago,I love that environment but chose to move out of it because it was a bit of a comfort zone. However now I'm in a different place in my life and part time study could make sense for me. I feel like if I start the grind and commitment of working it will be hard then to step off that treadmill and go to studies again, especially because I'd then have to reapply for all my benefits and justify why I was not working.


justmama's Avatar justmama 06:26 AM 03-23-2011

I stayed home for over 2 1/2 years when my youngest was born.  I worked throughout her pregnancy(waitressing) and left with the intention of going back and never did.  It was EXTREMELY tight and we did get food stamps but I stayed home.  And honestly, it was more a situation of, I couldn't afford to work.  Child care for 3 would be more than I would make with my high school education and no consistent work experience in the last 10 years.  When my youngest was just over 2 1/2 when I started work part-time at the YMCA.  It's perfect because the kids come with me directly after the big ones get out of school and I stay home during the day with the little one.  Their dad picks them up at the Y when he gets out of work and keeps them in the evenings(I only work on our visitation days) and puts them to bed at my house so I can just come home to relieve him of duty.  Yeah I have no social life basically.  But my girls are still little(3, 6 and 10) and I'm not ready to date anyway.  It's working for now.


Ceinwen's Avatar Ceinwen 09:02 AM 03-23-2011

I would, between part and full time. I'm one of those parents that prefers to work than be at home though. My oldest is in school and the youngest (3.5 years) would rather be at daycare/preschool than at home. My only wish would be a little more flexibility... but I love working.


Devaya's Avatar Devaya 11:07 PM 03-23-2011

Ceinwen, interesting what you said about being better at work than at home... I guess I'm still figuring out if I'm better at work or at home... A lot of the time I feel so bored playing with DS (guilty!) but then I have days where we are so connected and I love being with him, which I would hate to give up.  I think I would prefer to do neither, to be honest! The only times I really feel are 'time off' are when I am reading a book or hanging out with friends. It's strange - I had such a strong work ethic during my pre-motherhood life, most people would describe me as a very disciplined, conscientious and driven person. I still am in lots of ways but I find single parenthood SO exhausting, it just feels like work would be another thing to resent and take time away from me recharging my batteries. Maybe I just haven't found the work yet that is really ME and makes me feel fulfilled.

 

It turns out the university don''t have bursaries for part time study, only full time. Bleah. Could still apply for external funding but the prospects are not as likely for an artsy-fartsy 'unecessary' degree like mine. Full time this year is not feasible for me b/c there's no way I could afford the childcare unless I was working...I could perhaps do it full time the following year when DS starts school fulltime, but even then it'd be a stretch. So I'm now thinking, I might just work a minimal amount of hours per week (which wouldnt make me any better off financially, all but 30 dollars of the amount I earn would just get taken off my benefit/welfare payments), like 4-6, doing the breastfeeding counselling stuff, to keep in the loop and see how I feel doing that and whether I want to do more once DS is in school. Just getting a feel for it.


LoveOhm's Avatar LoveOhm 01:06 AM 03-26-2011

This is a really neat thread!  Those of you who recall my story know I most relate most to Sparklefairy in that yes I would work/attend school even if I didn't have to but I wanted to find the right fit.  It took me a while I tried a couple different things but I finally found a way to work from home and make an AMAZING income.  Due to MDC rules I can't gush in detail but I will say I am paying my college tuition at a private catholic college in cash (well a check) instead of loans ---- and I am providing for my dd all while working only 15-20 hours a week and I set my own schedule. So yes I can attend all field trips, schedule around ballet class, etc.

 

What I am doing works really well for me and I am happy to share a little of my story and what I am doing in a private message but I also want to say we all have to find our way. I went from having a abusive ex who used money (and my fear of being away from my dd to work) as a way to control me.  Now I am rid of him and fully supporting my dd on my own terms.  Where there is a will there truly is a way!!!!

 

I tried staying at home and I was not really spending as much quality time with my dd.  Now I feel I have the best of both worlds.

 


Super~Single~Mama 08:16 AM 03-26-2011

I hate staying home with my ds.  I love him with all my heart and soul, but I just was not meant to be a SAHM.  I love working though, and picking him up form daycare, and playing with him in the evenings though.  I end up exhausted but fulfilled at the end of the day, and its completely worth it!


Up