If you’re a single mother, you know how difficult it can be to take care of your family. And you’re not alone. According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2021, there are over 11 million single-parent families in the United States—with almost 80% of those households headed specifically by single mothers. While ~30% of single mothers remain jobless the entire year, the other 70% spend their time working outside of the home, and when you factor in the gender pay gap, it’s not surprising that many mothers decide to pick up a second job.
Even in two-parent households, raising children is a full-time job—and when you’re also carrying the burden of being the only provider and holding down multiple jobs, it’s easy to succumb to anxiety and stress. But as important as it is that you’re doing all you can to take care of your family, it’s also important that you’re doing all you can to take care of yourself so you don’t buckle under the pressure.
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on things you can do to help you survive working two jobs as a single mom. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a solid game plan for how to tackle the week ahead!
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According to a 2016 study, over 4.3 million women work multiple jobs to make ends meet. If you’re one of these women and you also know the joys and struggles of raising a family, you’re in good company.
While it can definitely be overwhelming to try and tackle working two jobs on top of the endless demands of being there for your children, you can make it much easier by learning how to prioritize your time effectively.
You can do this in a few different ways, but to help you get started, we recommend the following:
- Invest in a Planner
- Set Boundaries at Work
- Ask for Help When You Need It
In the following sections, we’ll touch on each of these topics more in-depth.
Invest in a Planner
You remember planners, right? Those little notebooks we all received in school that we would write down our homework assignments in to help us keep track of them?
Well, it turns out that those things continue to be useful long after we’ve finished with school. Though you may no longer need them for homework, they’re still very useful for planning out chunks of your day or week!
If you know you work Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights from 5-10, for example, and work your other job on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday mornings from 8-12, writing and blocking out those hours in a planner can help you see what that looks like visually and show you where you can afford to set aside time to do other things—like buy groceries or perform a specific errand you may need to run for your kids.
There are many ways you can go about utilizing a planner, be it an actual physical notebook, a spreadsheet on your computer, or one of any number of planning apps.
Though it may be difficult to get in the habit at first, learning how to effectively manage and account for your time can greatly help in reducing stress. Not only does it help keep you accountable for your commitments, it also shows you how much time you spend on certain tasks as well as where you can usually afford to fit in other priorities when needed.
Set Boundaries At Work
While you may spend a significant amount of time at your jobs, it’s important that you take the time to recognize that you are more than just an employee. There is a culture of shame that exists in the American workforce—often enforced by bosses—that make employees feel guilty for taking time to prioritize themselves.
Don’t fall for it. Do you need to work to be able to provide for your kids? Yes, of course. Does that mean you always have to make yourself available to your jobs 24/7? Absolutely not.
To that end, it’s important that you’re as upfront with your employer as possible. Let them know that not only do you have another job you need to do, you also have children at home that need your attention. That means you can’t always cover a co-worker’s shift at the last minute or can’t always come in early or stay late.
As long as you’re honest in the beginning, most employers are willing to meet you halfway and stay flexible.
If you happen to work for yourself at home, then you may need a bit more self discipline—as that means it’s up to you alone to determine when it’s valuable to work and when it’s wiser to schedule other things. To that end, consider enforcing strict working hours for yourself and try not to take the work home with you.
Ask for Help When You Need It
It takes a village to raise a child, and while you may be doing the bulk of the work alone without a partner in the household, that doesn’t mean you don’t still have access to a community!
If you find things are getting overwhelming or you just need some more time for yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out to the support system you already have in place. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or your parents to look after the kids if you find you need some extra alone time.
As important as it is that you’re doing everything you can to provide for your kids, it’s also important that you carve out time to take care of yourself too! You can’t give from an empty cup, and you owe it to yourself and your kids to be at your best so you can give your best to them.
While it may seem overwhelming, and sometimes even impossible, to do everything you need to do when working two jobs as a single parent—it’s by no means impossible!
With the proper planning and boundaries in place, you’ll likely find that you’re capable of doing much more than you realize.