Who doesn’t love summer? Well, for many reasons, single parents. First of all, it’s a financial minefield. With school out there’s full time daycare to pay for and it’s not just a tiny bump; it’s a major increase in what is likely already a super tight budget. And then there are all the enriching camps and field trips. You want your child to experience learning new skills and making friends with kids outside of the familiar zone, along with beading bracelets, singing songs and horseback riding. But wow, all of that comes with a hefty price tag.
If your kids are older and able to stay at home that solves the daycare issue, but then you’re presented with a whole new line of issues. What will your kids do all day, home alone? Will it be safe? Will they be getting themselves into trouble? And let’s not forget how much your grocery bill will increase as they raid the cabinets all afternoon (and late evening), as well as the rise in your utility bills from having the AC on all day (as well as electronics, sucking up electricity).
As if this wasn’t enough, all around you it will feel like every other family is going on vacation – to their cabin, to visit the nation’s capital, or to see the Grand Canyon. Wanting to include you in the conversation, they will ask, “Where are you going on vacation this summer?” To that I say, hold your head up high and declare, “We are planning an amazing staycation!”
I respect and admire all of you. Your day is long, your to-do list even longer. So for today, I salute you:
To all of the working single parents (I realize that’s redundant, all parents are working parents), I respect you. I know the daily grind you face – the one that never, ever lets up. I know that when you head to your car in the morning with the promise of a gorgeous day on the horizon – I know you really want to dump the kids off at camp and just goof off all day. So I say, make it happen! Schedule a day off alone. Take the kids to daycare, or somewhere, and just enjoy sitting on a patio, sipping coffee and reveling in the quiet. At that moment, no one needs you! Can you imagine how energized you will feel from that? Schedule your day off today.
To all of the work-from-home single parents: you have your own special brand of challenge, as you are likely working from a home office and maybe have the kids underfoot. There’s not a real separation of work and home life, so you need to be extra diligent to create a boundary between the two. It can be a lonely existence, working from home, so be sure to schedule in some play dates or even trade off babysitting with other parents so you can get some crucial alone time.
To all of the working single parents who also attend school: can you say sleep-deprived? As if parenting and working weren’t exhausting enough, you’re also the college student, racking up credits while you write papers and complete lab reports; all in an effort to finally secure that degree that promises higher pay, better benefits and a more rewarding career. Do me a favor; pat yourself on the back with gusto. You are killing it! And you can’t see it now, but when your kids are all grown-up, they will say how incredible you are to have done all of that.
I will leave you with this. Your life is really tough right now, but let’s be honest – everyone has challenges, tragedies and trials. Instead of focusing on your hardships and exhausting life, put your energy towards creating a positive attitude and being the best parent you can. Seek help from others when the going gets too rough and take some time to enjoy the journey – and your summer!
About Renee Brown
Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that “long and winding road.” Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.