Author Topic: Working single parents w/young children  (Read 3640 times)


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Working single parents w/young children
« on: May 07, 2015, 07:01:38 PM »
It's been awhile since I've posted. I recently was contemplating between accepting my "dream job" and the job that's "best for the kids" I was fortunate to have several job offers, but it also brought on a whole new problem set...and guilt.

My 'dream job' is working for an incredible, reputable doctor, co-workers I love, in family practice--my favorite BUT, the hours are not super 'kid friendly' I work 4 ten hour days. I have an elementary child, a toddler, and a soon to be one year old. By the time I pick up the kids from daycare my littlest eats dinner, gets a bath, and is super tired and ready for bed, my middle child is up until 8pm so I get a few hours with the other two, but, by the time I get home I am completely exhausted so I'm not the usual run around playful mom. I'm more of the play for five minutes and I am so beat I am couch bound.

The more kid friendly job, that I accepted, but later decided that I wasn't prepared to pass up my dream job (which makes me feel a bit selfish). With the other job I would've been working in pediatrics, which is not my cup of tea, I would've only worked 2/3 long days a week with a full benefit pkg instead of 4 days/week and I'd have a lot more time with the kids. My mother in law was really pushing me to take the part-time position, which I initially accepted, but two weeks before the start date I reneged and took the position I wanted.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I just feel conflicted, I make a good living so I don't need to work full-time, but I love being a nurse and working in family practice--love my career. I sacrificed time with my young children in a one parent household to take the job that I really wanted. My mother in law is constantly trying to persuade me to go for a part-time gig or if it gets to be "too much" to resign. This makes me feel even worse, because I know she thinks that I made the wrong decision and I'm a selfish mom because of it. I guess it bothers me, because I think maybe she's right.

I don't know, I'm just kinda bummed, when I get home late from work and my time is so limited with my kids, the guilt sets in. I wonder if I made the right decision. If I was too selfish choosing what I wanted VS what's best for the kids. 'They're only little once' a phrase my MIL uses often. I have a great relationship with my MIL otherwise, it's just this issue that we don't agree.

The hardest job, hands down is parenting. I am constantly wondering if I'm doing the right thing, if I'm going to regret what I'm doing if I should've waited to work full-time until my youngest was in kindergarten.

What are your thoughts on this. Do any of you feel guilty working full-time in a single parent household? Dating and my social life have completely fallen to the wayside, I figured since I took the job I wanted and sacrificed time with the kids, then my weekend social life should be sacrificed to dedicate my complete attention to my kids.

Parenting is so hard. WIDOWED parenting is even harder.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 07:23:49 PM by Katelsam »
?.?*?*?Forever in my heart, sweet Sammy, until we meet again?*?*?.?


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2015, 09:00:56 PM »
Kate -
I am a pediatrician. I love my job. I work 3 long days per week and take call equally with the group - every 10th day. This is the same schedule that I had before dh died. It was our choice for us both to work part time to have more family time after we didn't have this for so long during our training. I often now feel rushed in the evenings to get kids to activities and dinner and family time.

I think bc I'm part time the mom guilt is less.  I am confident that doing what I love makes me a happier person and therefore a better mom when I am home. I am not the stay-at-home type. Just not me.

They are only little once. They deserve a mom that is as happy and fulfilled in as many ways as possible. It's ok to give yourself permission to do that.
"I may not be as strong as I think, but I know many tricks and I have resolution." - Hemingway

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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 10:01:12 PM »
I'm also a career woman; being a career woman does not mean you have to put yourself or your children aside.  In my experience, it just means temporary compromises and learning to be forgiving of yourself.  My daughter is a bit older but with lines of communication open and my making a point always to find time for her, she knows we're in it together.  I agree with NKofD, if you are doing work that you love, that fulfills you (not to say that it won't be stressful or test you), then you will be modeling courage, modeling strength, modeling self-sufficiency, while also modeling love, honesty and comfort for your children.  The balance is tough and there are days that it is not at all in sync but overall a satisfied you means you can be there in the most important ways for them.  Good for you for taking on the challenge!  I admire your courage.  In solidarity!


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2015, 07:18:11 AM »
I am so sorry to hear that you have been struggling with so much guilt lately.  I had a long battle with some similar issues.  I think in the end you have to find a balance that works best for you.  It will never be perfect but you had to find the best fit for your family.  In the end if you weren't happy in the part time position that could impact your quality time with the little ones too.  It is exhausting to go to a job you don't like even if it is less hours.  You deserve a job that makes you the best momma you can be and that is different for everyone. 

If you are close to your MIL, maybe you can talk to her and explain that when you are challenged and fulfilled at work it allows you to bring your best self home for the kids.  Let her know that you need to give this a shot and that it is hard so you need her support and not her guilt.  I found that when I went from full time, to temporary stay at home mom, to part time there was always someone who seemed to disagree.  But they haven't walked in my shoes.  They can't tell me what is best for my family.  Sometimes I can't even do that.  Try to give yourself some slack and let some guilt go because it is really hard and you are doing great.  You obviously care tremendously about your little ones and at the end of the day they will know you love them. 


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2015, 08:29:32 AM »
When I have to make decisions like this for my son and me, I often think of the emergency instructions on a plane. In the event you have put the oxygen mask on, you are supposed to put yours on first, then your child?s. You have to make sure you are making a decision that is going to make you happy in the long run. If you are dissatisfied and working in a job that you resent, you are going to end up bringing that home.

The fact that you are worrying about your kids, just means you?re a good mom. I think you are doing the right things.


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2015, 10:21:40 AM »
this is a long, meandering reply, it's a topic that cuts close to home today...

Mom guilt is universal. It's a bad feeling that is absolutely not justified. The children aren't inflicting this guilt on us, we are doing it on our own. I think it's borne of too large a sense of control, i.e. we feel guilty why? Because we are somehow certain that our involvement makes ALL the difference, that it is not only crucial but indispensable. The truth is our children are much more a product of themselves, their genetics, their collective experiences, than they are a result of any of our direct actions. As a really small example: it doesn't matter who makes the lunch they pack, it matters that there is a lunch to be eaten. I am not saying that they don't care, or we don't matter, or aren't special, but when we start thinking that it's bad to be away from them, especially for something like work, then we rapidly spiral into a vortex of guilt that I find rather unhealthy.

I also find it fundamentally sexist because I am pretty sure few men ever feel that their career goals, or their job choices should be reevaluated in this context. For instance, I am responsible for   a project led by three high-flying doctors: two men and a woman. Their admin once joked to me : Lady Dr is crazy. She works like a maniac, she's home so rarely that her husband made a joke that soon her face will be on a missing person poster. The admin was disapproving of her behaviour and the extent of Lady Dr's absence from her family. My immediate response was "What about the two Guy Drs on this project? Home much, are they? Do we care about that? Do their wives also make that joke, or do they just figure it's the result of having married a superstar MD-researcher? Why are we piling on Lady Dr?" It was very telling to me, that we were criticising this woman for doing essentially what the two other colleagues were also doing.

but beyond my feelings about gender roles and feminist theory, the truth is, even if you have a more conservative outlook on life in terms of gender roles, as a widow you have to be the carrier of both roles. So yes, you have to be the loving mom who does the carpool, but you ALSO have to be the hard-working provider who brings in the money. And it might help to take on a more traditionally "male" perspective on your career ambitions.

Having said this, I suffer from guilt too. Acutely. I work 8:30-6. I have two shifts: I work from 8:30-5:30, then from 8:30-10pm at home. I am the last parent at daycare picking up the 4 year old. I drop off the 7 year old at school in the morning. The 7 year old has all her violin practice and homework overseen by our exceptional nanny. Except, as I have said here, our nanny doesn't speak French. So I have to correct homework and do spelling and reading exercises myself, later in the evening, when we are both exhausted. This hasn't worked out very well. And weekends, I am so tired or preoccupied that it's a huge effort for me to stay in the "parenting zone" and not inflict my professional stress on the children.

I feel guilty pretty much ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, I joke that all I want is a job at Starbucks: easier hours and I can just hang up my apron at the end of the day and not worry about anything once at home. As it is, I have to rely on other people to help with things that I would like to be in charge of, parentally-speaking. Every difficulty my children encounter in their progress is, I feel, entirely my fault. The truth is this is excessive. My DD has trouble spelling. Even if I spent 3 hours a day helping her, she would probably still have problems with spelling. After all, even some kids who have stay-at-home moms have trouble spelling. She would still have to face that test on her own, alone. I am not magical. My being there doesn't suddenly resolve all problems. And by necessity, she gets to have to find her own solutions.

When I am well-rested and optimistic, I tell myself I am providing them a good model of womanhood: I am showing them that my ambitions matter and they are pursued with a level of success that satisfies me and makes me proud. I am showing them that it's necessary to be resourcefull and to trust others with important aspects of our lives, that solutions come in all sorts of forms. And I am showing them, sometimes, that all of this doesn't mean I don't have moments of weakness. That it's not the moments of weakness that matter, it's how they get resolved. 

Make the decision about your career that you feel most comfortable with, from a personal point-of-view. Make it in the present, not with the perspective of what regret you might have in the future.


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2015, 12:08:16 PM »
I came across this today  :)

Marsha 1975-2014

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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2015, 01:55:40 PM »

When I have to make decisions like this for my son and me, I often think of the emergency instructions on a plane. In the event you have put the oxygen mask on, you are supposed to put yours on first, then your child?s.

I love this. I have been similar issues. Stay where I am, earn far less and have no where to go, or find that dream job - which would mean a move leaving our support system. In my case, putting on the oxygen mask might just keep me where I am. Maybe I just need to be ok with that - for the time being.


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Re: Working single parents w/young children ha
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2015, 07:05:57 PM »
I know it sounds generic....but really all that matters is what can you handle and what makes you happy. Kids are happy when Momma is happy.

I have been on every side of this. Worked full time till DH died (was on maternity leave when he died actually)

Substitute taught for a few years.../

Went back into crazy full time work mode then for 2 years. And like you mentioned had very little social life../traveled, worked some evenings...Had no time...Bur for ME at that time I needed kids flourished because when I was home-it was all them (they were a little older like 4,7 and 9)

The past year I work full time-the job bores me honestly...but I am now home by 3:00 about every weekday-So it works for my life and the kids life now. Life isn't static and is constantly changing-2 years from now I maybe working a job with longer hours/more $$$...Bur at this given moment it works....When it starts not working I Will Change directions.

Mom guilt sucks....and you shouldn't feel guilty. We are all doing the best we can whether is full time, part time or SAHM. Just be happy.
B.W.H. 9/24/2007


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 03:53:34 AM »
((katelsam)) Can only just agree- widowed parenting IS hard.  We can't control a lot but we can try to avoid having regrets, and it sounds like you are doing that.


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2015, 03:29:01 PM »
My kids are 9 & almost 13.
I quit my well paying job after the girl was born. Juggling an infant, work and a husband who was battling Crohn's (but very successful in his career) took to much of a toil. We always decided that I would wrap up my degree when the kids were in preK. He died when the boy was 3 1/2 & girl was 7 1/2, I had just started the enrollment process back into a jr. college. So, that's what I've been doing. It's been a lifesaver, forced me back into the "real world" slowly while the on-going processing of my grief.
So, I've interviewed and attended various college job fairs. It's helped me figure out what the basic qualities I want in a job.   
My first requirement: location, location, location. I cant be more than 30 minutes from my house in a normal commute. Luckily, I live in a maj. metro city so I have a variety of options. I just cant have a long commute.
I've been offered fantastic positions w/Fortune 500 orgs. I'm getting my degree in accounting, but my work background is in broadcast news & pr. I'm gonna be an accountant who can communicate.  ;D But those positions demand long hours & travel, I cant wait to be at that level- I look forward to it, but right now, I'm just not there.
I feel like I need to spend as much time with my kids as possible, so I'm looking for an 8-5 position. I get that I'll have to work longer hours during tax season and etc. but I'm cool with it, my kids understand it. I'm thinking I might hire a nanny for after-school care, I don't have any family in the area.
So much damn stuff to do all the time. Calgon, take me away!

This life after your death is a strange journey. M 1973-2009


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2015, 08:20:21 AM »

I?ll have to admit that my first thought was that your MIL is right in that they are only little once. But after thinking about my own experiences as a parent I realized that kids are actually only whatever age they happen to be at the time ?once?. In my opinion parents have to look at the here and now, but they also have to look at the long term.

When my kids were like 1, 3, and 5 I took a job that required me to work long hours (this was long before their mom got sick). One night I laid down with them to get them to sleep and my five year old said ?Dad, I wish you?d get your old job back.? That made me feel bad at the time but the job paid better and I knew it was the right thing to do for the long term.

After 2-3 years that job evolved into one that allowed me flexible hours. Today my kids are grown and they couldn?t tell you how much I was home when they were little. However, they can tell you if I was able to get away from work to go to ballgames, soccer matches, school activities and the like when they were older. They can also tell you if they had cell phones, and Xboxes, and cars to drive (kids don?t get cheaper as they get older  ???). I?m just trying to say that there is a balance between making choices for the present and making choices for the future.

There is also a balance between choosing what may be best and what you want. Having a job that you love and that loves you is important too. I took that job that kept me away from my kids more than they wanted for a few years. But, when my wife got sick, my employer was very supportive and gave me all the time I needed to take care of her.

Parenting is so hard. WIDOWED parenting is even harder.

Yes it is, but it sounds like you're giving it a lot of though and I'm sure you'll make the right choices.



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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2015, 08:57:44 AM »
I do struggle with being passionate about my career and a work/home life balance.

I am typically a's how I am wired. My "dream job" I resigned from about 18 months ago. I admit I do sometimes miss it. (Drug prevention in the stAte)...Bur as a widowed Mom of 3...I couldn't keep up with working till 6:30 or 7:00 a few nights a week...traveling to overnight conferences, trainings etc. I am passionate about what I learned...but am passionate about being a Mom too. Now... My job (case manager) is boring, not challenging, sucky pay-but I am home by 3:00 everyday to get the kids off the bus then head and be present at there activities. But I am glad I had the opportunity to dive into a position like I did before (I would probably have more regrets about work now if I had never had that opportunity)

My passion now is volunteering with the drug recovery community and recently back into suicide prevention. I need it because professionally I am really not fulfilled right now. But that's ok. Life changes constantly.

I say Go For your dream can always change positions later if it's too much.
B.W.H. 9/24/2007


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2015, 08:59:00 AM »
Happy mom, happy kids.
As parents we often put our kids needs and wants ahead of ours, because that's what a parent does. Also when they are happy, we are happy but..what if the reverse is true?  I think that if you are happy you are setting a good example to your kids and when mamas happy everyone is happy :)
If this is the job that fulfills you and makes you happy, then why would you settle for any less. Kids aren't going to remember that you worked full time and weren't home as often but they will remember when you were home you were happy and satisfied with your life.
Saying all of this I was a SAHM while my boys were young, but only because we had the financial security to do this, and any job I could get would be minimum wage which would only cover day care costs, so it didn't make sense for me to be working. Are my kids any better off than kids that went to day care or a baby sitter? I can't say, because that's like comparing apples to oranges.
Life is short, do what you enjoy! I never went to college, I always said I would go when my kids were older. When my husband died I was left to raise two boys without a decent income coming I went back to college, actually just finished my first year of my program. I realized that by getting my diploma I could find a job that would make me more financially secure, but also it's a field that I've always wanted to work in but I've never been qualified to do so. My boys see how happy I am learning and discovering new things, how much more confident and self sufficient I have become, I have become a better role model for them and in turn they are happy for me and proud of me!
What we do definitely affects our kids, and we know them best and know what's best for them!


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Re: Working single parents w/young children
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2015, 10:02:45 AM »
Choices and/or decisions are not always easy.  I admire your passion and your ability to have career choices and support. 

My children are older being 12 and 14.  Although I have a degree in a field I love, it is not one with marketable skills in my area nor one that is compatible with being a single Mom.  I am thankful that I do have a job which pays the bills, provides health benefits, and has hours that work for my family.  Wish I had had the vision to select a health care field when in college.  You are a smart woman and will make the right decision at the right time.