Family Life

Creative Child Care Solutions As A Single Parent

It can be challenging juggling childcare as a single parent. The key is to have Plan B. Seems children get sick when a parent has a mandatory meeting or work project.   Enlist people ahead of time to be available in case of an emergency. Several parents I know have used up all of their stick leave on ill babies and toddlers. They learned the hard way to have someone on speed dial for that eventuality. Talk to a neighbour to see if they are able to be a last-minute fill in if your little one needs to come home from school. Possibly a friend who works from home can plug a childcare gap when you have to be on the job. You can reciprocate the favour another time.

If you have your own office it may be feasible to bring along an older child who is recovering. Pack books, art supplies and snacks. My insurance agent allows his secretary to have her son there after school every day while she does her tasks She has her boy go into the waiting area when a client needs to speak to her. Maybe you can make arrangements to work at home if your child has a stomach bug. Several offices permit older kids to take over the conference room during a bank holiday or short break. This helps the organizations to keep their employees on the job. Some hospitals and companies have nurseries, like the one I attended where my mother was a nurse. Ask co-workers how they are handling their childcare needs.

If you are able to negotiate with your co-parent, perhaps you can split up school holidays. Then neither one of you has to find childcare for the entire period. Some divorced people remain on good terms with former in-laws who are happy to babysit. They enjoy seeing the grandchildren and the single parent on a tight budget gets a break. In one case, a woman’s former mother-in-law watched her daughter and a divorced friend’s one also. The girls had great fun with that gran.

Talk to your friends and see if they are willing to share a nanny. Parents I know hired a caregiver who watches a group of children and rotates houses on a weekly basis. It is cheaper when more parents share a caregiver. I did this with my older son. One’s family can help out too. My mum did some of the school runs after my divorce.

If you and your friends are on flexible or different work schedules, consider watching each other’s kids. This also is helpful when you want a bit of time to yourself or to get errands done quickly. Check into what clubs or activities there are after school. Often, they are free or low cost. Scouts, sports and chess are a few of them. My mother sent me to sleep over or day camp when she wanted to pick up extra shifts as a nurse. Then she had a block of time to be off from the hospital to spend with me.

When married, I ran a medical practice plus was the nurse. Soon after my divorce I changed jobs within my profession that would better suit my childcare needs. I became a school nurse with a work schedule that coincided with my sons’ one. See if you can change jobs or tweak the one you already have. My solicitor that I hired for post-divorce issues, left the law office everyday by 4 pm to be with her young daughter. She returned e-mails or read documents when the girl was doing homework or in bed. Other people have been able to adjust their jobs to work part-time from home.

Your children’s teachers can be a resource for childcare. They are usually up-to-date on what is available in the community and may know individuals who babysit. There are web sites who post caregivers and their credentials. It seems like only a few months ago I was juggling childcare and now I have an Empty Nest.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

 

 

Dealing with Empty Nest and How to Thrive

An Empty Nest is especially challenging for parents who face yet another loss after divorce. People may be experiencing the different stages of grief with their divorce, and now also mourn what was and may never be again with their child. One goes through anger and eventually moves on to acceptance in the cycle of grief, as time goes by. This is the period to reinvent yourself and discover long last passions. Having a quiet house seemed to be one of the worst things for me. I brought my stereo system out of hibernation and got some tiny new speakers. I joined the vinyl craze in the states and bought some new records. Listening to old favorites with my cats around, makes loneliness a thing of the past and both of my college age sons enjoy listening to these classics when they are home.

There are ways to make this transition a little easier and reduce the loneliness that may come with the empty nest syndrome:

  • Schedule something fun to do immediately after your child leaves for school. I had a facial a few hours after my youngest son left for uni and required this pampering. The kind therapist let me express my sadness as she massaged lovely aromatherapy oils on my skin. The next morning I had a latte with a pal, and a movie with another one later in the day. I met with friends for the first several days of this transition.
  • Get together with other Empty Nesters for support and fun. My friend Patti formed a group with her son’s classmates’ parents and they meet once a month. It used to be for tears, but now it is for laughter and camaraderie.
  • Delay doing big projects until after your child is gone. This is the time to organize your home office or tackle the mess in your garage. Being focused on a large task, decreases time to dwell on one’s new situation.
  • Expand your social or professional groups. I joined a MeetUp.com group and can go out weekly for lattes, lectures or other activities. I joined Toastmasters International to become a more effective speaker.
  • Join some groups and organizations. The Women’s Institute (WI) evolved from traditional activities during WW1, to fencing, DIY classes and teaching other skills now. The WI is having a resurgence of new members with many in their 30’s. There is even a WI goth group in London. I have discovered many new Scandinavian authors from my book club.
  • Go back to school for pleasure classes or to advance your career. I took a computer class after my son left. An acquaintance obtained her teaching degree during her Empty Nest period. She was so busy with these courses that she barely had time to think about her kids that had flown the nest.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and build self-esteem. This is the time to climb up Kilimanjaro or find charity treks around the UK or far flung places. Expand your fitness level as you train for these endeavors or join an exercise class. I started Zumba and Tai Chi during this episode.
  • Consider hosting a foreign exchange student for a few weeks or a school year. You will have a student who needs care and advice in your home. You may end up with a new family member for life as some people have told me. These people enjoyed learning about other cultures and visiting their “kids.”
  • Take a trip to get away and be in a new environment. Visit old friends who may be going through the Empty Nest as well. Go overnight to a nearby spa for some pampering.
  • Volunteer and give something back to others. I love feeling needed with my weekly volunteering at a cat rescue group. The kitties purr with their appreciation. Consider adopting a new pet. If unable to commit, foster a cat or dog short-term.There was a study released in the states that indicated a correlation with getting breast cancer around eighteen months after the last child left home. When I thought about the people I know who had breast cancer, this was the time that they discovered it as well. A woman told me this week that her surgeon said there is a connection between strong sad emotions and the occurrence of some prostate and breast cancer. This research of emotional states increasing the risk for cancer is in its early stages, but I am having as much fun as possible to decrease my chances for it.Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk