Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

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 I’m a Single Mom on a 30k Salary with Almost No Support from My Ex: Here’s How I Make It Work.


My age and occupation: 31, childcare provider
My partner’s age and occupation: N/A
Annual household income: $30,000
City: Bothell, Washington
Childcare costs per year: $2,400
How we found our childcare: I work there
Our kid(s) ages: 8 and 7

photo: Josh Willink via Pexels

I’m a single mom without much support from my ex (he started paying child support this past summer after six years), and I run the childcare program at my kids’ school. I get a discount, so not having to budget full-price child care into my salary means I have enough money left over every month to pay for the activities my kids enjoy: piano, cheer, gymnastics and dance. Our life is a little frantic at times, but as a single mother, I feel lucky to be close enough to my kids to have an input on their education, even if the days are long. Here’s how I make it work as a single mom of two without much support from a partner:

Morning: I’m the first one up, and it’s always early

I wake up at 5 a.m. and leave for work at 6 a.m. My commute is only about five minutes, which is great. I’m also a full-time student, and my job is one of the reasons why I’m able to make it work. I know I’m lucky.

photo: iStock 

Another reason why I’m able to make it work is that I live with my mom. She’s the one who wakes my children up at 5:30 a.m. and gets them, and herself, ready for school and work. I do feel guilty sometimes because my job and child care situation takes away time spent with my kids (they aren’t allowed to be in the classroom with me), and I struggle with not being able to control things like whether or not they get their homework done.

photo: Energiepic via Pexels

My Work Day: Halfway through the day, I have to switch into student mode

It’s a mad dash after I leave my job at 10 a.m. At this point, I’ve already been at work for half the day. When I get home I have to quickly switch gears into student mode (I’m working on a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.). Between classes and schoolwork, there’s little to no time left for anything else before I rush back to work at 3:15 p.m. to get ready for the after-school program.

photo: iStock 

Afternoon: It can be frustrating waiting so late for parents to pick up their kids

The bell rings at 3:40 p.m.; my coworkers and I divide the students and go to our respective classrooms—my children being in the other class, of course. I do my best to keep the boundaries of mom and teacher when at work, but it isn’t always easy when they see me in the halls.

Throughout the week either my mom or I will shuttle the kids to their practices or home after school, and it can get late. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I don’t pick up my daughter until 8 p.m.!

The rest of the week, I’m usually home by 7 p.m., but we generally have at least one parent a week that doesn’t arrive to pick up their child by 6:30 p.m., and I occasionally end up staying at work until 7 p.m. or even 7:30 p.m. I get that everyone runs late, but these late evenings are so agonizing. Parents who arrive after closing time are taking away from time I can spend with my own kids, and I can’t help but feel annoyed.

photo: iStock 

Evening: Even though I’m exhausted, this is the best part of my day

My mom makes dinner and tries to have it ready around the time I get home. After dinner, I sign any papers from school, check on the kids’ homework, do bath time and have them in bed by 9 p.m. Bedtime is definitely my favorite part of the day. Since our schedules are so hectic, this is the only time we can fit in quality time during the week. My ex-husband only sees them once a month, so I try to set aside this time just for my kids.

photo: Pixaby via Pexels

Bedtime: It’s a struggle for me to actually slow down after the kids are asleep

I’m often not in bed until 11 p.m. or even 12 a.m. I know that’s not enough sleep, but I really struggle to wind down after my day. The crazy thing is that in just a few hours, it’ll start all over again.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.




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