This National Single Parent’s Day post is sponsored by Angel Soft through The Motherhood network; however all opinions are entirely my own.
When Gabe’s father and I split nearly 4 years ago, I didn’t think I could find the strength to be a single parent. I worried that Gabe would miss out on things. I was 12 years old when my parents divorced, and it was nasty. When the dust finally settled, I went to live with my maternal grandparents. My mom took a nursing job in another state, and my Dad took custody of my two brothers and my sister. At the time I was playing several sports and on a few academic teams, and I required the most maintenance. My grandparents put a roof over my head, fed me and took me where I needed to go, but it was hard to replace the lost connection to a parent; I made myself a promise that Gabe would never know what that felt like. I wanted him to always be confident that he had a parent that would look out for him no matter how tough the circumstances got. Today I’m sharing my struggles as a former single parent and why I feel it’s important to celebrate National Single Parent’s Day.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that our lives wouldn’t be that much different after my divorce. I had been an Army wife for most of my adult life and I was use to managing things on my own. Gabe’s father had either been traveling or working late into the evenings as an Army recruiter, or deployed to another country most of Gabe’s young life. We had never lived close enough to a family member to receive significant support and I had grown accustomed to taking care of Gabe’s day to day needs alone. The only noteworthy change was that I had to support Gabe and I on a single salary; I had been out of the workforce since he was born.
I sold off a bulk of my possessions and I moved in with my grandparents. I didn’t want to have to take a job that resulted in Gabe spending more time with a stranger than he did with his family; I was so fortune that I didn’t have to make that choice because many single parents don’t have that luxury. Gabe started 3 year old preschool at the local elementary school 4 days a week and I took a job as a journalist/social media manager at my hometown paper. The day that he didn’t have school, I either worked from home or my retired grandmother helped with him. The job didn’t pay a whole lot, but it allowed me to transition back into the work force without disrupting Gabe’s life significantly.
Why do we need to celebrate National Single Parent’s Day? Every single day in the U.S. 12 million mothers and fathers raise children as single parents. The average person might be able to tell you when International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Pi Day, or even Pizza Day, but they can’t tell you when National Single Parent’s Day is.
The biggest struggle I faced as a single parent was managing my finances. According to data from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for single mothers was $26,300. The median household income for a married couple is $84,000, nearly three times that of single mother households. Sadly almost half of the single mother households have incomes of less than $25,000. In many cases the average cost of childcare for non-school age children was nearly 40% of the median income of a single mom household. If a single parent is paying out almost 40% of their income in childcare, it leaves very little for housing, food, and other necessities (like the clothing that they outgrow every couple of months). There are some solutions to making extra money like having a side hustle or even releasing equity from your home to get a much-needed cash injection. However, it’s important to get independent advice when thinking about releasing equity from your home so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. A lot of single parents I know end up working two jobs just to make ends meet so if releasing equity is an option, then I think it should be considered.
Helping out a single parent and honoring them on National Single Parent’s Day is simple. You could encourage a single parent by volunteering an afternoon of childcare, helping with errands, host a play date, or even something as simple as a cooking dinner. Many single parents who don’t have family living close by are grateful for any help or assistance that they can get.
This year the Angel Soft® is honoring an every day hero, the single parent, on National Single Parent’s Day*. They’re sharing this beautiful video that captures some of the struggles and joys of being a single parent.
“*The National Single Parent’s Day video is the latest iteration of Angel Soft’s “Be Soft. Be Strong” initiative which highlights the softness and strength of all types of families to handle life’s circumstances.”
Are you a single parent or were you raised by a single parent? If not, maybe a single parent has touched your life somehow? I hope you’ll help Angel Soft® celebrate single parents across the nation by sharing the video above and/or helping a single parent that you know celebrate National Single Parent’s Day.