Being a single mom in the workplace can be painful, embarrassing, and costly. Some single mothers will settle for a job with low pay but that is understanding in their need for time off or flex time. Other single parents will rely heavily on other family members or friends, and in reality, the child will spend many hours home alone if old enough, or in day care and after school programs.
A single mother feels her own sense of guilt. Guilt for not being there for her child when she is unable to get off work, guilt to her employer for having to leave early or call in sick and guilt to her family for having to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, there is no other choice, only hope that the child, the employer and family are understanding and forgiving.
In a two parent household, the parents can share the responsibilities and the burden of taking time off work for school appointments, dance recitals, band concerts, field trips and doctor visits. One parent can coordinate with the other on pick up times and places if unable to leave work in an emergency or had to work late and unable to make an appointment. A single mom comes to work sick, because all of her sick time has been used or is allocated to time off for the children.
In a single parent household, the parent has to take time off work which can lead to short pay since many positions now that are flexible for these kinds of issues do not offer paid time off. Too much time off or emergency calls, and an employer is understandably upset and frustrated. Co-workers that either are not parents at all or live in a two parent household do not understand the extra time off and can feel that the single parent is just a slacker, unable to keep up with the demands of the position.
A single parent has to work twice as hard to keep up with the demands of home and career. Traveling and working late or extra workloads for a company are out of the question, which can lead to less room for growth and advancement and less opportunity for raises. This can keep the single mom locked into a cycle of poor paying positions and financial problems. Balance between home and work is extremely difficult for any working parent. For a single parent it is almost impossible, it is a ride on a see saw, extreme ups, followed by extreme lows. Finding a career that is empathetic and understanding of a single parent’s needs is imperative.