I'm very lucky in the fact that while my wife is a stay at home mom, something I consider a personal luxury for me, she's a very industrious woman and has never lacked personal drive. She has always been able to contribute to our financial health while at home wearing the badge of mom. However, she has me around for backup and she has found various income opportunities which haven't required her to meet an employer's arbitrary schedule. The situation is quite different when there is just one parent in the home. What exactly can single parents do to provide financial stability for their household? How do they cope? Where can they go?
A recent article by Forbes provides some employment suggestions for single parents. It highlighted some flexible career options, including sales, real estate, and health care. I'd like to expand on some of those suggestions and add a few of my own. Please don't consider any of these ideas to be gender specific. I believe that these ideas apply to single dads as well as single moms. After all, we all have to buy groceries to buy.
One important point: If you are considering employment in a traditional work setting, where you punch a clock and work set hours, you should screen potential employers carefully and be certain ahead of time where they stand on critical child raising issues. Will there be flexibility when it comes to medical appointments and school responsibilities? Do they provide in-house daycare facilities? Are they child friendly or subtly child adverse? Get solid answers before you accept any offer of employment. You have just as much right to the most qualified employer as they have the right to the most qualified employee.
You may find working for yourself is your best bet. Here are some ideas to consider:
How about freelancing? Do you have talents which you can exploit from home? Freelance artists and writers can often make incomes in the six figure range. Do you have what it takes? What can you do? Could you be a qualified tutor, a music teacher or a coach? Look within yourself for talents you already possess. How can you market yourself? Perhaps you're a $500 per night motivational speaker, did you ever consider that?
Have you thought about blogging as a career? It really is a wide open field. Don't let the name fool you, blogging is as serious as any journalism has ever been. It requires some ability to write coupled with dedication and determination. Blogs all over the Internet are constantly looking for talented reporters and writers. Write up some sample work and spread it around. The results may astound you.
Have you considered going into the childcare field yourself? In most regions there is constant need for quality childcare providers and most states will certify you for childcare with training provided at very reasonable cost. This option also provides you with endless networking opportunities and surrounds you with like-minded, child loving people. Seizing opportunity breeds new opportunities. It can be an endless cycle.
Real estate sales can be the perfect career path for any single parent who is personable and has some modest sales skill. Again, state licensing can often be accomplished at a reasonable cost and the income levels can be fantastic. Real estate sales can be a very flexible field, often allowing you to schedule appointments within the calendar of your other responsibilities. Talk to real estate professionals in your area to get a feel for the possible opportunities. Consider real estate appraisal and home inspection as well, but be aware that these two fields of expertise will require further intense education.
Health care is a constantly growing field, and there may be room for great flexibility in scheduling within the right organizations. Sports injury clinics, physical therapy clinics and chiropractic offices may be able to provide you with half day or "trade off" schedules designed to make the best use of the hours you have available. You'll need to make flexibility in scheduling a priority consideration when interviewing for employment.
Consider your abilities and explore starting your own business. Whether you're a single mom or a single dad, your opportunities are only as limited as your drive and determination. I knew a guy a number of years ago who mowed lawns for a living. He'd often read the yellow pages before going to bed at night and he'd jot down possible contacts for new accounts. Within a few years he had more work than he knew what to do with, and his schedule was his own. Last I heard, he bought a beautiful home with cash and was operating several crews on a county wide scale.
Most important, make sure you choose work you enjoy and find rewarding. Play into your own strengths with the belief that you'll overcome all obstacles. Ignore false barriers and leave conventional wisdom for the next guy. If you're a single parent, you probably have it tougher than those of us with live-in partners. But that's no reason to think you cannot succeed and earn a significant income for your household.