I write many books for the homemaker making do on a single income, the stay at home parent, and homeschoolers. Rarely do I direct my concerns and support specifically toward the parents that really need all the support and nurturing that can be dished up; the single parents and parents that both have to work without a choice.
I am a homemaker with support from the father and husband. Despite living on very small paychecks at times, I am very fortunate to have this choice to stay home with the boys and homeschool. I have a partner that goes out daily to work and bring home money for us to sustain our lifestyle.
I’ve thought about what life would be if I hadn’t the financial support of a breadwinner. The boys would go to school and after-school programs and I would work full time. Being that I haven’t been out in the workforce for years I probably wouldn’t land a very lucrative job at first. I would make a minimum wage or slightly over that.
I would not be ashamed to get help in the form of medical or food stamps. Not when you have children to take care of and your barely making ends meet. I would find all the help I could and I would make sure to make the most of every cent that rolled our way.
I have a mortgage that is very small and if I cut out everything, we could live for around $1700 a month. But this means the internet at the library and our antenna TV. This would be one cheap cell phone and trying not to use the gas. We have solar now but still pay for gas.
To make life easier I would downsize as I’ve been doing to keep the house charming but simple to clean. Knick-knacks and extra furniture and clothes make for more work and as a working parent, every minute counts. I did a small purge of extra furnishings and things a few weeks back and I found cleaning and keeping the house tidy to be 25% easier. I’ve been doing another layer of purging and decluttering to bring that up to 50%. Even a full-time housewife tires of cleaning, organizing, and tidying all the live long day.
For cooking, there is the trusty crockpot and now I’ve brought home a bread maker from the thrift store and it is so easy! During my productive weekend project, I made pot roast and French bread in the breadmaker so I didn’t have to take time to cook. Casseroles are easy and fast, one pan or pot dishes, cooking in bulk and shopping only once a month will save tons of time.
Gardens…have a kitchen garden and try to plant fruit trees and as much food as you can year round if you can do that as well. Learn to can. It may take up a weekend but it’s well worth it and gives one a sense of pride and accomplishment. I’ve found new canning jars on Craigslist for cheap. As for a garden costing too much? A shovel is all you would have to buy. You can purchase seeds and plants with food stamps you just need to find the stores that sell seeds and take food stamps such as WinCo or other big stores. You can create your own rich soil with compost. Simply layer food scraps, leaves, dirt, and grass trimmings and soak, cover and let cook. There are so many gardening how-tos on YouTube and books at the library on urban homesteading. If you have a yard, you are fortunate.
Another idea is childcare or daycare. I had a daycare once for a short time when my husband had no work. It is a great way to stay home with your children, especially if you homeschool. With a daycare, you can tend to your home, garden, and essentially be a homemaker with a business.
Another way I would handle being a single parent is keeping my calendar clear. I would not have us overscheduled and obligated to anything that did not serve us well or that we didn’t strongly desire. Time would be precious and reserved for time together and with others we adored. My children would not have all these extra activities and be overscheduled. When we weren’t in school or work we would be relaxing and resting.
I would try to get a job close by, I know that isn’t always a choice. But the closer the less time spent in traffic. We have schools we can walk to. The boys could walk to school and back eventually and I would want to walk to work. This would save on gas or bus fare.
I would continue doing what I do now; hang my laundry out, repurpose jars and bags, water down my dish soap and shampoo, utilize the library to the fullest, thrift shop everything, waste nothing…
As for shopping, I would use the car for that day and I would shop for the whole month along with extra for the stocking up of my pantry. WinCo is the least expensive store in town and if I stick to bulk foods, only produce in season, generic brands and that is it…I can stock my cupboards and freezer like a champion shopper. This would mean no dairy, no meat or very little each week ( a whole chicken can stretch and be enough for the week), no eggs and water as our main drink. We would thrive in health with this way of eating because it’s clean and loaded with vegetables and legumes, grains and fruit. Frozen vegetables and fruit can get one through the last part of the month.
I would find out when the Goodwill and other thrifts and Hospice thrifts had sale days and only shop on those days for our clothes or kitchen tools, toys and such.
Holidays would be about making homemade decorations and cooking. Gifts would be simple, probably thrift items.
I find you can really stock up on art supplies at Dollar Stores and other discount stores. We spend lots of time doing art and reading. Both free and at home activities.
When there is time off it would be spent at home or taking walks. There is no need to go places and spend money on things. When you have a family you just need quality time together. That is what families did before and now we seem to feel that a trip to Disney Land is only worthy of a mention.
In many ways, life can be a struggle but I find that sometimes when all the extras and distractions are stripped away that is when you find the true joys and jewels of life and family.
To all you working parents and single parents, my hat is off to you. I don’t know if this article is of any help or inspiration but it is all I would know how to do in such a situation.