When you’re a single parent

When you’re a single parent
Nevertheless, her situation is far from easy: she has to meet the needs of her 3 children alone and, on her legal secretary’s salary, barely manages to make ends meet.

Éloïse, a single parent of 3 children aged 11, 9 and 4-and-a-half, acknowledges that she has a support network in her entourage. Nevertheless, she doesn’t always take advantage of it, even if her situation is far from easy: she has to meet the needs of her 3 children alone and, on her legal secretary’s salary, barely manages to make ends meet.

“With my 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. work schedule, I need to make the most of my time,” says Éloïse. “Since I don’t live far from work, I go home for lunch to start preparing supper. I also get my children involved in household chores. My 2 older children prepare their lunches, empty the dishwasher and so on. Even with my limited finances, I manage to reward their efforts. Sometimes, I give them permission to go to bed 15 minutes later, or I plan a game we can play all together, or I even offer an hour of one-on-one time.”

Also a single parent, Marie-Josée is mom to 5-year-old Alexis. She works full-time and studies part-time at TÉLUQ (Université du Québec’s distance learning university). This mom has a full schedule and has become an expert at making the most of each minute!

“For example, when Alexis is at one of his sports activities, I’ll use the time to catch up on my reading for school. I also do my grocery shopping during my lunch break,” says Marie-Josée. “A few years ago, I changed jobs so that I could spend less time commuting. This decision has made the evening routine easier to manage. When I worked downtown, it took me an hour to get to work and another hour to get back. Now it takes half that time. Since we’re less rushed at the end of the day, we have a better quality of life.

75% of separated moms say they get enough support from their entourage to meet their obligations. This number falls to 61% among mothers who are still with their partners.

Making the day-to-day a little easier

Here are some ideas on how to get valuable help, often at no or minimal cost.

  • Exchange services through your network or an Accorderie (an organized network for exchanging services among individuals). For example, you can do the groceries for yourself and a family in your neighbourhood, or offer cookies or a jar of spaghetti sauce in exchange for snow removal. And who knows? You may even discover someone in your neighborhood who’s retired and would be overjoyed to play substitute grandfather or grandmother on occasion in exchange for minor services or a jar of homemade jam!
  • Take turns babysitting with another family in your network. For example, one week, you watch their kids for the evening, and the week after, they watch yours. It’s like having a free sitter!
  • Use your community’s resources for families. To find out what they are, contact your local CLSC. Family centres, for example, are not-for-profit organizations that support families by offering various services (drop-in respite program, family counseling, homework assistance, conferences and workshops, etc.) The help they offer can make a real difference!
  • Cook in a community kitchen. These kitchens exist across the province. In a community kitchen, small groups of individuals get together to prepare healthy, economical meals. Some offer group buying that lets participants obtain quality fruits and vegetables at low prices directly from producers. Don’t have a community kitchen near you? Why not get together with a few neighbours to prepare vegetable preserves, tomato sauce or jam? Buying the ingredients in bulk usually costs less.
Single fathers and mothers can find valuable support in helping each other. “It’s useful to develop a strong and solid network of contacts: neighbours, friends, colleagues, parents of your children’s friends, and so on,” says Guylaine Deschênes, organizational psychologist. So, put aside your pride and accept the help you’re offered. You could also hire a student or a retired person living in your neighbourhood, often at little cost, to lighten the evening load. This person could, for example, pick up your child at daycare.