It is hard enough for two parents to manage work and family, let alone for a single parent. Fortunately, there are some unique approaches that single parents can take to make the juggling a bit easier.
EASING THE BURDEN FOR SINGLE PARENTS
The author of a study in Harvard Business Review (Lindholm, 2021) says that single parents may want to explore various housing arrangements, such as renting a home with another single parent, living with extended family, or hosting an exchange student. This could help ease the financial burden or make childcare easier.
Flexible or non-traditional work schedules can make parenting easier, and organizations are starting to realize that providing more flexibility and autonomy leads to more dedicated employees. Some non-traditional possibilities include night shifts, flex time, or working from home.
Single parents may want to explore new career paths. The author gives an example of a woman who left her job as a social worker and provided childcare service in her home. After her kids started school, she started her own business in behavioral health, for which her childcare business gave her skills and experience.
Single parents can also focus on expanding and leveraging their social network. Examples include hosting potlucks or teaming up with other parents to run errands or for sharing in childcare responsibilities.
FATHERS AND HIGH-PRESSURE JOBS
Another article in Harvard Business Review (Behson, 2021) focused specifically on fathers, who often feel extra pressure to focus on their careers. The authors suggests that fathers examine and weigh three types of priorities: (a) security, income, and advancement, (b) interesting work, accomplishment, and helping others, and (c) flexible work with independence and free time. A father might find that his priorities have shifted or that the career he once chose no longer fits with his preferred lifestyle as a parent.
The author also suggests that fathers keep their egos in check. For example, some might worry that spending more time with family will taint their hard-working reputation. However, organizations are more understanding of employees needing to shift their schedules over time, especially to accommodate family.
Lastly, the author recommends considering a change in work environment by finding employers who are father-friendly. Fathers can also consider a change in industry sector, for instance, non-profits may pay less but offer greater flexibility.
Lindholm, M. (2021). Creative strategies from single parents on juggling work and family. Harvard Business Review.
Behson, S. (2021). What working dads can do when a high-pressure job asks too much. Harvard Business Review.