If you are a single mom, your options when it comes to just simply making a living are very limited.
2. Have extended family take care of your children while you work.
If your extended family is unwilling to do so or are too sick or have too many other responsibilities, then you really only have one option left.
3. Go on welfare.
You may end up having to go on government assistance. You will be dependent on federal aid until your children are old enough to take care of themselves for at least a few hours.
When a kid is old enough to get off a school bus and go home and chill by himself for a couple of hours until you get home from work, you will probably be able to return to work full-time. Of course a child isn’t really old enough to stay at home by himself for a couple of hours until he’s twelve or so. And twelve years out of the work force looks so bad on your resume. You might get re-employed at a service industry job but you’ll probably be in your late thirties or early forties by then. It will be difficult to kick-start a career when you reach that age.
And this is also all predicated on your child being neurotypical and not special needs. Special needs children will rarely ever reach a level where they can safely be left home alone for a few hours.
This whole ugly, awkward reality of single motherhood tends to slam against you that moment when you realize that as a mother you are alone, alone, alone. Babysitters are expensive and your bills and your rent don’t care. They still have to be paid.
The only answer is to have some sort of government system set up so that 24-hr low-cost childcare is available to single moms. People object to this of course. “Why should my tax dollars support sluts who couldn’t keep their knees close?!! If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ‘em.”
That argument only holds water for so long since single moms are almost never single by choice. Single mothers exist because of male failure and male evasion of responsibility.
The conservative argument that childcare is unnecessary falls apart when even conservative women find themselves vulnerable to sudden single motherhood because of circumstances beyond their control.
So what do conservatives do then? Admit that they’re wrong and that a government-sponsored 24-hour daycare is necessary for women to return to work?
Nah. Instead conservatives start to spread the destructive myth of “babysitting co-ops.” Log onto any libertarian website or homeschool organization or independent homesteaders etc. etc. and you will have a cheery description of how y’all can TOTALLY work as much as you want and not have to pay a dime in childcare. And you don’t need anything from big gummint either! It’s not that hard folks!
As “insteading.com” wrote:
Babysitting coops are small groups of people who trade babysitting with some form of tracking. The basics are simple — find a group of people, decide on a currency, make sure everyone has contact information, and you are good to go!
Sounds so simple! You work 40 hours and then spend another 40 hours watching another person’s kids in payment for their watching yours.
Even if babysitting coops work (they don’t-nor even exist) it still means women have to work 80 hours a week just to enjoy the benefits of getting a 40-hour paycheck that they can actually use to pay bills.
The fact is that if you have the capabilities to assemble a whole group of people to give free babysitting -on time and on schedule- using a barter system then you don’t need to work. Because right then and there you have already started your own business.
The complexities and convolutions involved in getting these entirely fictional “simple” babysitting co-ops off the ground are laughably unobtainable.
Insteading.com goes on:
You will need a coordinator who will help keep track of the hours everyone spends, send out regular updates, and keeps medical forms on hand. This doesn’t take a lot of time — but it does need to be regular. The coordinator will need to make sure that everyone has a current directory of members. Make sure you have a plan in place for this position to get rotated every year or so.
Once everyone agrees to join, you need to decide on schedules. Are members going to email the group when they need someone to help or are they going to sign up at monthly meetings? What happens if someone cancels or has a sick child? Are all hours equal or if there are two or three kids is the fee/payment higher? Taking time to decide these questions at the outset can help save headaches later.
And let’s be very clear: babysitting co-ops don’t exist. Go to Care.com and search for “babysitting co-ops near me.” That’s what I did. I got one result. In Oregon.
I live in New Hampshire.
Yet this dangerous garbage of “just start a babysitting co-op!” is still pushed on single moms every time we talk about the reality of being unable to work. If we don’t have extended family or an ex take care of our kids, we will need to go on welfare until our kids are old enough to stay home alone.
We need government-sponsored daycare. Give women low-cost 24-hour daycare for two years. By that time most people who have been working for two years are often promoted or have made it to a job where the salary can accommodate at least a part-time sitter. It’s better than waiting 12 years on government assistance until our kids are old enough to stay home themselves.
And for Gods sake, stop telling single moms to form babysitting co-ops. You might as well ask us to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Babysitting co-ops do not exist.