Babysitters and child care are the costliest part of parenting, and that burden is even steeper for single moms. Even if you figure out how to afford to work, getting out of the house like an adult-ass woman on the occasional evening can seem prohibitive. I hear from women every day who don't date, never see their girlfriends and are otherwise entirely tethered to their kids at the expense of their sanity and sense of self.
To which I say: Eff that.
You are an adult woman who needs to spend quality time invested in things — anything — aside from parenting. Make girls' nights, dating, your hobbies, and alone time high priorities. You will be happier, you set a great example for your kids for what it means to be a fully realized adult, relieve your kids of pressure to fulfill your every need, and gives them time with other cool people.
Here are 4 ways to afford a responsible adult caring for your kid while you hit the town:
Join or create a babysitting co-op. Whether it is an informal arrangement through a Facebook group, or a formal (though free) arrangement on SittingAround, a great site for finding or creating a babysitting cooperative in your community, remember: Other parents need free babysitting, too!
Create a collective. Cory Jean Hall made friends with a fellow single mom in central Massachusetts and blogs at SimpleBabe.com. Neither woman's exes were in the picture, and both were eager to date and otherwise have free time. “I took her daughter for a sleepover every other Friday or Saturday, and she took my daughter on the following Friday or Saturday,” says Cory, who had a second reciprocal sleepover arrangement with another local mom. “It takes time finding the right moms who are in the same boat and who understand how to give and take and be equally flexible. The right moms will respect your time just as much as you respect your own.”
Get creative during business hours. Think: lunch dates during the week, or early evening drinks when your kids are at after-school playdates. Cory Jean Hall worked all of these angles, and for years managed to free herself three weekends every month and never paid a dime for babysitting. “It takes some creative finagle,” she says.
Hire through Care.com If no one you know will give up the name of their super-awesome and affordable babysitter, find your own. Care.com has been around for years, and where I found one of my most favoritest babysitters (who since moved away). The site is a bulletin board of babysitters who have posted their own profiles, including prices, experience and certifications. Also, you can post a profile of your own family and description of what you're looking for. Many moms who follow me have reported finding awesome sitters at the going rate in their community. Can't recommend Care.com enough!
Care.com is a partner of WealthySingleMommy. I never promote brands I do not truly believe in.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.