Working as a single parent is no easy feat. Throughout the country, child care costs have skyrocketed, making working while being a single parent all the more difficult, regardless of your financial status.
With the advent of technology, especially that which allows people to telecommute, more and more companies are allowing workers to work at least partially from home, giving single parents the opportunity to spend more time with their children in their formative years.
While working from home is a huge benefit, it’s not all a walk in the park. Being a working parent and a stay-at-home parent each present their own unique challenges. Working from home as a parent is very much the same.
Karen Alpert, a writer at Fast Company, has experienced all three. Though grateful for each experience, she is a huge advocate for being aware of the challenges of each.
“Being a working mom and being a stay-at-home mom are both crazy hard,” she writes. “But being a work-at-home mom is hard in a whole different kind of way. It’s not about seeing your kids too much or too little. It’s about ignoring your kid–a lot–and feeling like you’re constantly failing them throughout the day.”
Though it seems bleak, it is a part of the reality of working from home as a single parent. In many situations, however, working from home has the potential to have more benefits than not.
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Benefits for Single Parents Working From Home
As mentioned previously, one of the biggest expenses associated with raising children in the United States is the cost of childcare. The national average annual cost of childcare around the country ranges from $10,468 per year for a daycare program, and can go up to $28,905 for a nanny, according to reports by Care.com.
For this reason, single parents may see a great financial benefit into working from home, especially if they don’t have a family member to lean on for child care costs. In addition to cutting down on childcare costs, parents who work from home also also able to spend more time with their children than parents who have to go into the office every day.
Remote workers typically benefit from a somewhat flexible schedule, which allows parents to be more active in their children’s school and social lives. They’re also more likely to be able to care for them when they’re sick, have time to take them to doctor appointments, and be more active in their education.
In addition, single parents also save time and money in transportation by having to commute to the office less, if at all. In big cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York, where the commute to work can take multiple hours, the ability to work from home saves hours that could be better spent at work on with your children.
Best Work From Home Jobs for Single Parents
There are a number of industries today that allow for telecommuting, remote work, or gig economy jobs that let you choose your own hours.
Jobs in the tech sector are probably the most likely to offer remote or telecommuting options for individuals, and it’s not hard to see why. Many advertising, marketing, writing, music, art, freelance, journalism, non-profit, and media-based jobs are likely to have flexible positions. But other, more unexpected industries are gradually opening up to telecommute and remote work options as well.
The healthcare sector, for example, has seen an increase in opportunities to telecommute, especially since rural hospitals and mental health facilities have begun to close. Now, more than ever, doctors, nurses, therapists, and others are taking their skills to meet patients from all over the world in an online environment.
Teaching, too, is starting to see more opportunities in the remote work sphere, both in tutoring, mentorship, and teaching. The advent of technology makes it more easy for students to participate in an online capacity.
Those wishing to start their own businesses also have the unique opportunity to build their business with flexible options in mind.
The gig economy is also a great way for single parents to take control of their schedules in ways that best work for their family.
Best Companies Offering Work From Home Opportunities for Single Parents
Each year, the website FlexJobs compiles a top 100 list of places to work that allow workers the opportunity to work from home. There are 29 companies that have been on that list for the past five years in a row. These companies come from a variety of industries.
- Kelly Services
- UnitedHealth Group
- Anthem, Inc.
- BCD Travel
- Connections Education
- Grand Canyon University – GCU
- Western Governors University
- McKesson Corporation
- American Express
- Walden University
- PPD – Pharmaceutical Product Development
- CVS Health
- HD Supply
Websites (such as Flexjobs) are a great place to start when you’re looking for a job that provides flexible options for work, as you will be able to customize the work you’re looking for and find the kind of job that matches your individual skill sets and desired position.
Work From Home Tips for Single Parents
As mentioned previously, working from home is an attractive option for single parents for a number of reasons, but as with any position, there are challenges that single parents need to overcome. While it’s tempting to want to spend more time with your children, when working at home, it’s especially important that you strike a healthy work-life balance.
Time management when working from home can be especially hard for single parents, especially if your children are young. It can be tempting to take care of day-to-day tasks while also making sure children are fed, clothed, off to school, and everything else you have to keep track of as a parent. As such, it’s important that you keep office hours, so your children know (in essence) when you are available and when you are not. This also ensures that you’re able to complete your work, that you present a professional image to your employer, and avoid confusing your children as to why you’re at home.
To achieve that, it might be helpful to have a designated work area or office. This way, your children know where to find you if they need you, but you’re able to maintain a private space to take phone or Skype calls, and can help present a more professional work environment. As an added bonus, this distraction-free environment could also help boost productivity.
Overall, it’s important when choosing to work from home that you know your boundaries and what you’re capable of. While working from home is a tremendous bonus for many, it presents it’s own set of challenges which require a certain set of skills, some of which can be learned and some which cannot.
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