Going back to work as a single parent

Being a single parent can be tough but here's some tip to help you cope when you return to work.

If you’re a single parent thinking about going back to work, you might be asking yourself how you’ll manage.

Parenting solo is challenging, but like all parents you might have lost some confidence in your abilities too. You might feel overwhelmed with the number of changes happening in your life.

If this feels like you, you’re not alone. The proportion of single-parent families is expected to increase by 70 per cent in the next 20 years.

However going to work can benefit your family, allowing you to provide for your children now and in the future.

ParentsNext can help eligible parents access support to help them get back to work, including child care subsidies.

But here’s a list of other things you can do to set yourself up for success when you return to work.

Be prepared

When you’re out the door early and not home until late, preparing ahead of time can make work days run more smoothly. Consider cooking and freezing lunches and dinners on weekends to save time during the week. If your children are old enough, start setting small chores for them, like laying out their clothes and packing bags the night before.

Having a back-up plan for times when sickness, family emergencies or problems with child care strike will also pay off. Ask around and make a list of people you can call on for child care or assistance.

There are a number of things you can do to decide what kind of job would be right for you.Talk to your manager

Some employers offer flexible working options. Ask your manager what’s possible. Can you start later and finish earlier? Can you work from home for part of the day or at night when your children are in bed?

Simplify

If your children are doing a lot of out of school or other activities, is there a way to simplify this? Can they take turns to do activities such as one for summer season and one for winter? Can other parents drive or take your child instead? Making things simpler for your household will benefit everyone.

Get help

Asking other parents, family or friends for help can make things easier too. You might be able to swap or alternate school or child care pick-up and drop-offs with another parent. Friends you trust might be willing to help too, sometimes all you have to do is ask.

You might also be able to tap into parents’ groups online or in person. There are lots around, including some targeted specifically for single parents. They can be a good place to share experiences and get advice on being a working parent.

Look after yourself

When you’re in charge of a family it’s important to care for yourself too. Eating well, trying to get a little more sleep, and being active (even if it’s just dancing in your lounge room with the kids) will all help keep you balanced. Make sure you take some time out for yourself too. Watch a favourite TV show once a week, read a book on the bus, or ask a friend you trust to watch the kids while you go to a movie once a month. Dedicating some time to “you” will help keep you happy and healthy.

Let it go

Things can and do get chaotic at times. But they don’t have to be perfect. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture – the positive future you’re creating for your family.

Image sources: Jason Reekie, Department of Jobs and Small Business