I became a mother -- single by choice -- 17 years ago. I knew from before I got pregnant that I would be not just single, but a stay at home, homeschooling mother as well.
I continued to work as a nanny (though no longer live-in) both during my pregnancy an after. I had a variety of childcare jobs over the next several years, and my son always came with me. I never set up an at home daycare -- though many, many mothers do this.
I cleaned houses and small businesses. Again, my son came along.
I began going to college when he was four, taking out student loans and getting grants. I alternated college and childcare work. I did exchange care with other student mama friends so that we each could go to class. By the time my son was eight he was coming along to class: and yes! It was just fine with my professors.
I always asked before hand, and it was never a problem. On exam days he would stay with his grandparents.
I also began working part time, from home, for a small home businesss when my son was eight. Over the years, my hours increased, and so did my pay. The beauty of it was that I could set my own hours. It was a good situation. I was lucky. Eventually, I was earning enough to have a couple of kids with my new partner, and to buy a house. (Ok, the partner turned out to be an a** and is long gone). And to have a car. And to build a nice savings.
Sadly, about fifteen months ago I was laid off. Utter disaster.
Sooo .... I've gone back to school to finish my degree (two semesters after this one, and then on to grad school
). Again, student loans, grants. My ex pays child support. My family (parents, brother) is generous enough to help care for my kids while I'm in class -- for free.
Also, we are fortunate enough to live in a state which provides healthcare to all working families/student families who fall beneath a certain income limit, and who have no other insurance available. They even paid for my teen's braces!
Through all of the changes, I've always homeschooled, we've always managed financially, I've always been with the kids more than I haven't.