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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but when I became a mom everything changed and while I am still a very goal-driven person, my desire to be “mom first” superseded everything.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.

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how to add self care

Self-Care for Single Moms

how to add self careEvery mom should have a plan for self-care because it simply makes us better moms. But self-care for single moms can feel more overwhelming at times than therapeutic. While that may be the case, it is important that single moms (and dads) take the time to recharge and relax. It makes us better parents and sets a good example to our children.

Trust me, I’ve read all the blogs, articles and books. I get it. We need to take care of ourselves. But even those experts who are single moms and dads can make it seem simple. The reality is that sometimes there are conflicting priorities or emotions and that makes it hard. This is a significant struggle for me and has been since I became a single mom.

Here are some ideas to think about as you are trying to find some alone time:

Understand Your Priorities as a Parent

Most parents have conflicting desires when it comes to children. They want to spend as much time as possible with their kids but also want to earn as much as possible to give them a good life. Paint as clear a picture as possible to give your children what you desire for them. Quite frankly this means different things to different people.

For some it revolves around getting back to work and making as much money to send their children to top schools and have the funds for a ton of extra-curricular activities. For others, financial sacrifices are gladly made for the sake of making it to the afternoon baseball games and dance recitals.

Some parents don’t have a choice and simply need to go to work and pick up their child when work is done from childcare, school or family help.

My choice was clear for me: I wanted to spend as much time with my son as a stay at home mom. That meant finding a way to earn enough money to provide us a good-but-not-perfect lifestyle while he grew up.

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Build Routines that Care for You

Self-care means so many different things but all boils down to doing things that help improve or maintain one’s health. Health could refer to either mental or physical health. It’s a proactive approach to knowing what you need to feel good about yourself, find joy and alleviate stress for overall longevity.

Taking care of you doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. It would be easy for people to look at me and think that I didn’t take the time to care for myself. I work from home and am happy with a good Netflix binge or spending time on a nice long walk with the dog or hike with my son. I may work long hours at times, but extended hours for me usually mean I’m creating something of my own. Expressing my creativity is as much of self-care as getting a massage for me.

When Building Self-Care Routines

Life moves at a pace we can’t keep up with. There is always something a parent needs to add to the to-do list. Starting your day with the same routine sets the tone for the day. I’ve always found that I’m more productive with my work and more grounded as a parent when I start my day early in the morning before the house stirs.

It gives me the time to find clarity in my thoughts and set the momentum of the day for success. A frantic morning routine sets a tone for stress and anxiety. The long-term effects are not worth it.

Use the Custody Schedule to Your Advantage


Co-parenting and custody schedules will always be a trigger point for many moms and dads. You want to spend time with your child. You want routine every day, not three days this week and five days next week. Custody schedules can be as hard on parents as they are on kids. Use your off-parenting days to get a little extra self-care in.

Free days offer you the time to meet friends for dinner or have that date with the cute guy you met at the coffee shop. You don’t need to worry about babysitters and you can’t change the schedule so use it. It will help you keep or rebuild the healthy part of you ready to experience the world. After all, getting lost in the single mom world can feel isolating often.

Know Your Child Understands

Single parenting is hard and can consume us. Don’t forget: our children are strong. They want to see us healthy and happy. It’s no fun for them if we are always stressed and moody. Struggling with mom guilt is real but doesn’t have to be the norm. Set your priorities and develop routines then communicate with your children the plan.

Since my divorce, I really haven’t dated. Like at all. Friends encourage me to jump back in. People tell me I just need to trust in love. It has nothing to do with that. I haven’t dated because I set my priority as my son and building a stay at home work life. Mixing dating in, at least the times I’ve tried, felt like work. It felt like something in my top priorities would break.

Then it just becomes sort of the norm. But I remember when my son asked me about what a good candidate would be for me. It was cute. He wanted to see Mommy happy. Of the description, I gave, “athletic” stood out to him. It was the next day when we were walking to a local restaurant that he pointed to a homeless man with his bicycle. “He’s athletic. How about him?” Oh, the sweet words of a seven-year-old just wanting Mommy to be happy.

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Self-Care for Single Moms is More than Balancing

If you’ve ever taken a self-help program or talked to time management and wellness experts, you’ll hear a lot about balance. They have wheels to show you where your time is being spent and how unbalanced you are. The goal is to make sure you are devoting the right mix of time and energy to things like family, financial, health, love, education and a myriad of other important things we need.

I pretty much get lost after family, financial and health. I see this lopsided wagon wheel cripple itself down a dirt road because it has no rounded edges for love, personal growth, spiritual fulfillment or career. I know they are important. But I can barely get the dishes done let alone take a class on jewelry beading. Angst sets in immediately.

What’s a Single Mom to Do About Self-Care Time?

Be patient with yourself. For some moms, it is easier to say, “I’m doing this for me and I don’t care what anyone thinks or says.” Others, like me, are more inclined to say, “I need to set certain priorities before I add a lot to my plate.” We all get to the end of the road on different paths.

For single parents, this path is a bit crazy at times. That’s okay.

I will say this, try things even in a small-scale way. You might find that taking that cooking class on the Friday when your kid is at your ex’s is the time you fulfill your creativity, build new skills and get excited to share something with your child. It gets you to meet more people and engage in the world again. It is important.

You will find that as you add new little things to your routine, you’ll start to look forward to them and your overall demeanor and mental health will improve.

Your Health as Self-Care

self care woman exercising

Make your health a priority no matter what. We don’t need to go into study after study talking about the benefits of taking care of your health. A healthy parent is present and able to provide for their children. When you are unhealthy, everyone feels the pain.

Here are a few things to consider about taking care of your health:

  • Exercise reduces anxiety: walking briskly around the block, doing yoga at home, or hitting the gym releases endorphins which make you feel good.
  • Good diets fuels life: fresh, healthy food gives you energy for long days and creates good eating habits in your children too
  • Drinking water helps body and brain: we dehydrate ourselves with coffee, soft drinks and alcohol. Your body and brain need water to function and help you feel better.

Final Thoughts on Self-Care for Single Moms

Self-care is important for every parent, every mom and dad regardless of whether they are single or not. If you feel like you can’t find the perfect balance that someone else seems to have, do a personal evaluation of what is most important to you. Focus on those things and slowly start to include other ways to improve and maintain your mental and physical health.

This is important for your long-term happiness. It is also important to show your children that you really are that strong mom who deserves to be happy. Taking care of you takes care of everyone.

Being a single mom does mean you are parenting solo, but it doesn’t mean you need to be alone. Join the Tribe for support, resources and fun.