How Do Single Moms Afford Daycare?
How do single moms afford daycare, especially during these challenging times? It is a matter of prioritising, fierce budgeting and more often than not, a lot of personal sacrifices. Of course, you can also create flexible, passive and sustainable income sources. It requires resilience and determination but it is achievable.
When I got married in 2009, I did not foresee that, 2 and a half years later, I would be a single Mom. Having invested so much time in having a successful career, I thought that I would now have the opportunity to share it with someone over a long period as we built our family together.
It was not meant to be.
Left on my own with a baby to care for, finding quality daycare was important for me to manage my career and home and to ensure that my daughter was being nurtured the right way in my absence.
It was not cheap.
The Cost Of Daycare
Thankfully, I have always been able to enjoy a good quality of life with my daughter. We also had the good fortune of having my Mum, a qualified Nurse and Midwife, my sister and my daughter’s godmother look after her when I had to travel on business.
In the ordinary flow of daily life though, I relied on daycare for her and it was hard to find good, quality care. You would think that living on an island with a population of 1.3 million people, it would be easy to find. Not at all.
In Trinidad & Tobago, quality daycare would set you back around $200 US per month. Add-ons would include meals ($60 US per month), early and late care ($4 US per half-hour), sick-day and overnight care ($20 US). You can easily rack up over $300 US a month in daycare costs.
With a minimum wage of $2.50 US per hour and most salaries between $650 US to $1,500 US per month, the cost of daycare – per child – can take a chunk out of your disposable income. Most parents have 2 or more children.
Compare this with the United States where on average between $300 and $800 US is spent per child each month for daycare depending on location and quality of services. The minimum wage is $7.50 US per hour and most salaries range between and $1,700 and $2,900 US.
Financial Support Makes A Difference
Unlike the US, we do not enjoy a child tax credit in Trinidad & Tobago. This would be a big help, especially for single Moms who carry the burden of all the expenses on their own. Those who are able to receive financial assistance from the fathers of their children may also find the expenses more palatable.
In their 2017 report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, Childcare of America noted that,
“Millennial women, who are responsible for 80 percent of the babies born today, are a growing part of the American workforce . . .[and] . . . child care is unaffordable for millennials in every state.”Childcare of America
The report also states the benefits of financial support through the State and employer programs.
“With child care assistance, parents are able to work more hours while remaining at the same employer for longer periods, with women of all education levels being 40 percent more likely to remain employed after two years following the receipt of assistance for child care costs.”Childcare of America
Daycare vs Homecare
Another option for childcare is homecare. This is the option that I chose and it worked very well for me.
There are 2 variations. You can hire a full-time person for your child(ren) with the responsibility for taking them to and from school, if required and caring for them in your absence. This includes ensuring that things like homework is done. The role is similar to that of an English Nanny or European Au Pair.
This is the option I chose for my daughter when she started Primary School at the age of 4. It made the best sense for me as Sarah lived in our community and was a young adult who was studying and had the flexibility of time. Sarah became a second Mom to my daughter and stayed with us for 5 years.
Alternatively, you could choose to have someone provide care from their home. This means that you are responsible for getting your child to their home where they will also be providing care for other children. It is a more affordable option but would not have allowed me the flexibility of time or the comfort of security.
Managing Work And Being A Single Mom
There will always be challenges when you are a parent. Whether you are single, co-parenting or enjoy have 2 parents in your home. Single Moms do have some special experiences that come with the title though. If you are working and also the only care provider the going can get really tough.
Dads are not required to breastfeed and during the early years bonding well with your child requires as many stress-free moments as possible. Having to manage work and prepare your mind and body for caring in that way takes much effort.
I gave birth to my daughter at 45 when I was at the top of my career and functioning in the E-Suite. The first time I had to leave her and travel for work, I cried as I sat in the airport. Those 2 weeks away were 2 of the longest I have ever experienced.
Thankfully, technology helped and I was able to video play with her. Technology has become one of my best friends because of this. I am connected with my daughter all the time and that makes life much easier for us both.
Often I wonder how single Moms are able to build a career, work full-time and parent effectively. II am not sure if I would have been able to do it let alone, do them all well.
Single Mom Work Option To Pay For Daycare
In 2016, I made the decision that I would not return to the demands of corporate life. The nature of business had changed and I was struggling with the poor ethics and weak morals which were the genesis for decision-making. It was time to make a change.
Given my technology background, I looked online to explore income options and slowly began to transition my offline consulting firm online. Having worked around the world, it was not too difficult to start. In 2019, I discovered a global online community that opened my eyes to all the possibilities there were on the internet to start, build and grow a business.
I have not looked back since!
These options are by the far the most effective ways to establish sustainable income streams. They range from Copywriting to Affiliate Marketing and can include SEO and keyword research and managing websites for others. They are all services my firm now provides and I am able to manage them from the comfort of my home-study or anywhere else I choose.
My daughter, who is now almost 12 years old, has started to get involved in the business and helps me with designs and ideas.
It is a perfect win-win situation.
Closing Thoughts . . .
I did not set out to be a single Mom. Life happens and things get in the way of achieving that while picket fence dream. But being a Mom is one of the most precious roles you will ever have in life. The ability to perform it while not having to worry about work or income is something that many, many Moms struggle to do.
How do single Moms pay for daycare?
They find work and careers that they enjoy, that is flexible and that will provide them with sustainable income to care well for their child(ren).
Today, I am fortunate to be able to help, support and coach Moms like Ana who recently wrote me asking:
More and more single Moms are realising that the traditional model does not provide them with the time and money they need to be able to enjoy a meaningful and sustainable lifestyle. They want more and they are looking for something different.
The 2019/2020 pandemic, like the 2008 financial crash, has reminded us about what is important. The traditional structure is weakening and the faster we are able to transition our lives onto a stronger foundation, the happier we will all be as a result.