Single Mom Jobs: Working for Yourself or Someone Else
If you’ve seen my book or heard me speak, you know I am all about helping to empower single moms to find jobs that will not just provide a good livelihood for their families, but will give them fulfillment and time to spend with their kids. I don’t know about you, but when I became a mom everything changed and while I am still a very goal-driven person, my desire to be “mom first” superseded everything.
Being able to find a career that serves your financial needs is so important. Beyond that, we have to find careers that understand that we want to make a field trip or help throw the class party. Just because you are single doesn’t mean you can’t provide financially and still be there for your kids.
I managed to do this as a writer, working from home on my own schedule and on my own terms. There are so many opportunities like this in the gig economy. Then there are flexible jobs that you can get paid benefits at as well. It’s up to you as a mom to determine exactly what the best route is for you and your family. Here are some things to consider and places to look for that perfect single mom job.
Monthly Budget as a Single Mom
Raising kids isn’t cheap. As a single mom, you’re often the sole provider making sure they have a good place to live, ample food on the table, and all the extra little things that makes childhood amazing. You also need to make sure you have medical care and are ideally planning for your own retirement to one day enjoy a break or two.
Understanding your monthly budget means having the honest talk with yourself about what your necessities are and what you really want. Everyone wants to make more money, have nice things, and go on more vacations. But you have to understand what you are willing to give up at times to get certain things. For me, while we lived in a good neighborhood and had nice things, I didn’t make the type of money I was probably capable of for many years simply because it would have taken time away from raising my son. That was a personal choice.
I knew what my monthly budget was to afford the lifestyle I wanted to give my son. It wasn’t bare minimum but it wasn’t everything I couldn’t have made. The tradeoff: I was there every day after school to see him, didn’t miss a field trip, and could take him to any after school activity without a hiccup. For me, my budget was a middle-of-the-road budget that fulfilled my monetary needs and mom desires.
Sit down and determine your budget to see exactly what you need and what you really want.
Single Parent Careers
Of course, there is no career that is labelled “single parent careers.” In fact, one would argue that all parents want the same good money with the flexibility of time that single moms want. The difference is that single moms often have a bigger burden of trying to deal with sick kids without extra help or manage unforeseen things without a shoulder of support. For me, flexibility was that much more important to me as a single mom than as a married mom.
The key thing is to remember that we are only limited by our own goals and beliefs. Going to work for long hours away from your child isn’t enticing for many single moms no matter how much money there is involved. Of course, you want to provide the best but that life balance is critical.
Some great jobs for a single mom to consider include:
- Freelance anything: Writers web designers, and graphic designers are in demand and make a great living from home.
- Teacher: Educators often work the same hours as when the kids are in school. This is especially ideal if you are able to teach at the same school that your child attends.
- Sales: Great sales positions provide excellent commissions with benefits but a flexible schedule. Managers are often most concerned with sales numbers, not office hours.
- Daycare: Nanny, babysitter, and daycare providers are often able to care for their own kids while getting paid to care for others.
- Network marketing: Don’t scoff at network marketers. More women are making more money and maintaining a great social support system at the same time.
Employee or Business Owner
More and more single moms are going into business for themselves. This could be freelancing from home with a toddler on your lap as I started out years ago or opening an insurance agency (which I also later did when my son was older). Both allowed me strong control over my schedule, each with their own financial opportunities.
But not every mom wants to be in business for herself and there is nothing wrong with that. Having a reliable paycheck with set benefits and vacation time has a lot to be said for it. Figure out what you feel best suits you and make your decisions from there. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing; this is about you and your family.
Finding an Understanding Boss
If you choose to get a job, make sure you are comfortable with how the boss views your role as a single mom. Of course, you don’t want to walk into an interview stating that you need to be able to get the day off if your child is sick, but you can get an idea of how understanding a boss might be with flexible scheduling.
Most employers want you to be your best when in the office and many will even allow you to take work home where pertinent if you have to take care of a sick child occasionally. You can get a sense of whether a boss if understanding or not when you ask them about their own children or talk to others in the office while waiting for an interview.
The Entrepreneur’s Life
If you decide that you want to control your own destiny and go into business for yourself, the sky is the limit. With so many ways to start a business, many of which allow you to work from home, there isn’t a reason for a single mom wanting her own business to be successful. Find something you are passionate about and get a mentor to help guide you. I’ve coached many single moms on starting a writing career; it actually helps me find great talent to outsource extra work to.
Single Mom Caring for Kids
Here’s the thing, caring for kids is either done by you for free or by someone else you pay. Unless grandma is retired and able to watch the kids, you probably don’t have free child care. This includes time after school. When making that budget and determining your overall costs, factor in what childcare expenses you will have. These are above other expenses like art classes or sports. Then, of course, there is the college planning roadtrip that you’d love to have when they are older.
When Kids Are Sick
Whether you work for someone else or work for yourself, you will find that sick kids are a normal part of parenting. Having a set plan in place for the days your kid can’t go to school (or you get a call from the school to pick them up). Some single moms are a little luckier than others with family close by to help. Others keep a babysitting fund available just in case.
Either way, have a plan. You don’t want to miss too many days of work because school is a petri dish and kids are always sick. At the same time, if you work for yourself, the work still needs to get done. Sick days don’t really happen for the self-employed. You know the kids will be sick at some point so have a plan even if that is making an agreement with a friend or family member to help you out for part of the day.
School Activities and The Single Mom
Being a freelance writer meant I never missed a school or afterschool activity. That was important to me. When getting back to work as a single mom, figure out what activities are most important to you to attend and plan for it. This might mean putting your name on the chaperone list for a specific field trip well in advance or making sure your schedule allows you to make all Friday basketball games.
Kids will adapt to your schedule but do appreciate mom being around. Include them on which events are most important for them to have you at. Plan as a family to make the most of your schedule and time off.
Balancing It All As a Single Mom
I’ve heard it said that you can have it all, just not all of it at the same time. This means setting priorities to make sure the most important things are done, paid for, or attended. Only you can do this. In the process, don’t forget to take care of yourself too. It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working so hard to be present for your kids and make a living.
Find a support system that lets you vent and lifts you up for everything you are doing. Remember, it can seem easy for society to put you down for what you can or can’t do. Only you know what your priorities are; no one else lives in your shoes. It doesn’t matter if you return to the workforce to do something you did prior to kids or start something new. Just make sure your single mom job aligns with your single mom priorities. Everything else will fall into place.
If you need a group of women who just get it, join the Single Mommy Tribe. We love to laugh but embrace a good cry too. And if you are looking for a way to break into freelancing, check out my book, Stay At Home Single Mom. I’d love to show you how to avoid the mistakes I made.