Suitable Ways to Balance Work and Parenting As a Single Parent


Being a parent while working full-time can be tough, but it can be even tougher if you’re doing it alone. Life as a single parent brings a whole new set of challenges to childcare that can be difficult to overcome. But, your love for your kids and your desire to be professional can help you jump any hurdle that might arise. If you focus on your family, find a good balance in your work life, and find some time for yourself, you can conquer this thing. You’ll have some tough times, but you’ll be stronger because of it and your kids will be, too!

Method 1
Method 1 of 4:
Handling the Logistics of Childcare

Set a schedule for the kids. You’ll find that caring for your children will be a whole lot easier if you get them on a schedule. Have a set dinner time where you all eat together and discuss your day. Make bedtime routine for them and make sure they’re in bed at the same time each night.[1]
Include extracurriculars like soccer and dance class in this schedule, as well.
You might consider putting up a whiteboard in your house with this schedule so both you and the kids remember.

Select quality daycares and schools. You’ll be a lot more productive at work if you don’t have to fret over how well your kids are cared for. Research daycares and schools in the area, read reviews, talk to friends about their choices and select the ones that are best for your family. Meet with their teachers and get their cell numbers in case you need to call.

Bridge the gap between school closing and the time you get off work. If school lets out at 3PM, but you don’t get off work until 5PM, you’ll need a plan for this gap. Enroll your kids in an after school care program or see if they can ride home with a friend.[2]
If they are over age 12 and you feel comfortable, let them go home alone each day. Go over safety procedures with them like locking the door and not opening up for strangers.
You can also see if a relative can pick them up and keep them while you work.

Use your family and friends as support. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child. Allow your family and friends to help you raise your kids so they can help take some of the burden off you. Put them on the school or daycare’s pick-up list and add them as additional emergency contacts.[3]
Should a friend want to pick them up one day to take them for ice cream, let them! Or perhaps your parents want to keep them on the weekends occasionally; go for it!

Make mornings easy by making preparations the night before. Rather than waking up each morning in chaos trying to figure out what to dress them in or make them for lunch, do this the night before. Pack their lunches, set out and iron clothes, and make a quick breakfast.[4]
Give them breakfast like cereal or bagels and fruit.
Buy clothes that are wrinkle-free so you have to iron less often.
Ask your kids to help you with these preparations. Even if they’re pretty little, your kids can help you with simple tasks like picking out their outfit for the next day or bringing you ingredients for their lunch.

Set up a backup care plan. If your child’s daycare or school should close unexpectedly for the day, have a plan in place. Have a few emergency babysitters on call who you can use when you can’t take off work. You can also use websites like or Sittercity.[5]
If your friends have responsible teenage kids, see if they would like to babysit for you occasionally.
Get to know the parents of your kids’ friends. Other parents can be a great addition to your support network. Reach out to the parents of your children’s friends and try to build a comfortable rapport with them. They may be able to help you if an unexpected issue arises and you need someone to watch your child for a little while.

Method 2
Method 2 of 4:
Bonding with Your Kids

Make time for your kids daily. Spend time with your kids each day, remembering that quality is better than quantity. Fifteen minutes outside throwing a ball with them will mean more than playing for an hour while you continuously checking your phone.
Make time once a week to do a family event together like go to the movies, have a picnic, or go to the park.
Have conversations with your kids. While you are spending time with your kids, encourage them to talk to you about what’s going on in their lives. Ask them about school, their friends, or how their day went. This will show your kids that you are still interested in their lives, even if you don’t have a lot of free time to spend with them.

Don’t badmouth their other parent. Even if your kid has an absentee parent, avoid speaking negatively about them in front of the kids. If you need to vent, call up a friend instead. Remember that though their other parent might not be great, your kids probably still love and miss them.[6]

Be consistent with discipline. Set rules with your kids and enforce them. Being a single parent is tough, but doing so with unruly kids is unbearable. Even though they might not like it and neither will you, punishments are sometimes necessary to teach lessons.[7]
Set age appropriate punishments for the kids. For instance, if your 4-year-old acts out, give them 4 minutes in timeout. If your teen breaks curfew, ground them for 2 weeks.
Be careful of being too easy on your kids because you feel like you “owe” them something. It is ultimately better for your kids if you set appropriate boundaries.

Method 3
Method 3 of 4:
Managing Your Work Life

Talk to your boss about your family situation. Set up an informal meeting with your boss so they’re aware that you’re a single parent and may need to leave occasionally if your kids get sick. Let them know that your kids come first, but you’re still very committed to your job.[8]
Say, “I wanted to let you know that I’m a single parent. That means that sometimes I might have to leave if my kids get sick. But, I’m very committed to work, and I intend to do a great job.”

Create a work schedule that works for your family. Check with your supervisor to see if you can work from home on occasion. This will be helpful when the kids are sick so you don’t have to use all your sick time.
There are also many jobs that are online now. Check to see if there are any available in your line of work.

Keep a calendar and tasklist. You probably have lots of meetings, events, and tasks to do all throughout your day. Organize your work life by keeping a calendar with your meetings and project due dates. Create a tasklist at the start of each day, completing larger tasks first and minor tasks as the day progresses.

Delegate when possible. If you have interns or employees you supervise, delegate some of your work to them when you have too much on your plate. It can be something simple like sending them to a meeting in your place or training them on how to create financial reports for you. You will be teaching them valuable skills while also getting more done on the job.[9]

Make doctor’s appointments in the early morning, late afternoon, or during lunch. Should you need to take your kid to the dentist, make the appointments at times that won’t interfere with work. If your appointment does conflict with work, bring some work to do with you while you wait.
Make clear boundaries between work and home. Avoid bringing work home with you as much as you can. When you’re home, resist the urge to answer calls or emails about work unless it is urgent.

Be as present as possible at work. You might be out of the office more than your coworkers who don’t have children. Because of this, make yourself as visible as possible when you are on the job. Take the long route to the coffee pot so you can see as many of your fellow coworkers as possible. Try to also arrive early to work when you can.[10]

Method 4
Method 4 of 4:
Handling Your Other Responsibilities

Cut costs where you can. Being a single parent can be really tough financially. Know that you can still give you kids a wonderful life without spending a lot of money. Do fun things that are cost-free like going to the park, watching a movie at home, or playing with them outside.[11]
Find coupons for things that you need to buy at the store. Search online for the cheapest prices.
Cut out unnecessary expenses like cable or home phone.

Stay calm even when you feel overwhelmed. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and going it alone can be very stressful. To keep yourself sane, try meditation. Spend 10 minutes in an quiet space daily and focus only on your breathing and your body. This will help clear your mind and calm you down.
Unfamiliar with meditation? Download an app like Headspace or Calm to help.

Find ways to get things done while spending time with the kids. Fold laundry while they play in the same room or watch a show with them and respond to emails during commercial breaks. This will show them that you are present while you’re also able to manage your other responsibilities.[12]
If they’re old enough, ask them to do chores with you.

Spend time with friends. Don’t forget about your life outside of your kids! Call up your friends to come over when the kids are asleep and have a glass of wine while watching a movie. Get a sitter and go out dancing on the weekends. Staying connected to your friends can help you de-stress and let loose.[13]

Take turns hosting sleepovers with your friends with kids. Once every month or so, keep your friend’s kids at your place so they can have a night out, and then have them return the favor for you. This will give both of you some much needed alone time.[14]

Make time for yourself. Even though it’s tough, remember that you’re not just a single parent or an employee. You’re a person who has needs, too. Each day, make a little time just for you. Go out on dates again if you want! Read a book, take a hot bath, or sit on the porch alone with some lemonade. Now go forth and continue to be the awesome parent that you are![15]


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