Childcare Part 3: Preparing Your Child

First and foremost, I believe that each child should know what is going on. That you are looking for childcare for them. When they can expect to be away from you and for how long. Everything pertinent to their age groups.

If a child can help you come up with questions, here about each person that you interview, and give you their in input, things may go smoother. Especially for a child who does not want to leave his mother.

Really, there are only a few things that I would like to touch upon in this post:

  • I believe that it is best if a child can meet the childcare provider(s) ahead of time, spending time with them first with you, then alone but with you right there. This gives the child a chance to get comfortable with the provider(s).
  • I also believe that it is best if the child is introduced to the other children in the childcare providers care, if there are any. The child should be allowed to play with the other children while their mother is there.
  • It would also be a good idea of the child were left in the providers care for maybe 1-3 hours only the first time. Then the whole day.

I do believe that the above steps will make the transition smoother for any child. As a single mother, you may have to take a day off from work to accomplish the first couple of steps.


Childcare Part 2: Interview Them

Okay, so you have chosen the childcare situation that fits in with your family. Or maybe just the one that is available or affordable. Either way, you now have to choose the provider(s) that will work best with your family. Be it a babysitter, nanny, family childcare home, or daycare center, there are questions that you will want to ask.

First and foremost, you may want to get the following information/permissions from the chosen providers, if this is legal in your state:

  • Permission to check on their driver’s license status, to be sure that they are safe drivers.
  • Permission to view their criminal record.
  • Permission to see information that The Department of Health and Human Services may have on them.
  • Any childcare licensing that they may have.
  • Any educational certificates that they may have, if this is important to you.
  • First aid and CPR certification.
  • Reference information.

Next, you will want some questions written down that you will ask the provider(s). These will be questions that you deem important, and will likely be different for each family situation. Here are some guidelines. Change them. Add to them.

  • What activities will you be doing with my children?
  • How many children have you cared for in the past? What is the largest number of children that you have cared for at one time?
  • Did you have any problems with previous children?
  • Do you care for children with special needs? Which ones? How did you care for them?
  • Do you concentrate on children-led learning or academics more? Please explain.
  • What happens when a child misbehaves?
  • What about when a child is sick?
  • What hours do you provide childcare?
  • How many children are currently in your care?

These are just some of the questions that you may want to ask.  Please share anything else that you feel is of importance to this article in the comments section below.


Childcare Part 1: Options

As a single mother, I was the only one here to worry about childcare options for my children. I had a lot to consider and, in the end, I became the childcare provider. This short series of articles is geared toward helping you choose the best childcare option for your family, whether you are a single mother or not.

Being single mothers, we do not always have the option of getting Dads’ input when choosing care for our children. If you are lucky, Dad is there to help you decide. If not, the responsibility lies solely at your feet.

It is nerve-racking, certainly, to be expected to leave your child in anyone’s care. It is not always easy to trust people to care for your child, when you have always been the main caregiver.

I would like to discuss the pros and cons of different childcare situations:

Babysitter: Wouldn’t be great to be able to hire an affordable babysitter to care for your child(ren), who is also loving, caring and enthusiastic about the job? Someone to come into your home? To bend to your schedule? To help you in a pinch? To be like a member of your family?

  • Pros: This lucky person would be there most days. You would get to know each other, and they would bond nicely with your children. She/he would take care of them and clean up after them (ideally with the children helping), and make sure that things are done before you arrive home. This would make your life so much easier. They may go by a base rate for all children, rather than a rate per child.
  • Cons: What if they don’t get along well with your children? Can you trust them alone with your children? Alone in your house? This could be costly if you have more than one child.

Nanny: I like this idea, if I could match a person to your family. You would have to choose a live-in or live-out provider, and decide on regular days and holidays off. They care for your children whether you work or not.

  • Pros: This person would be there a lot more than a babysitter would. You could depend ont hem to run errands and such as well.
  • Cons: Her rate of pay would be higher than that of a babysitter, and she would be more intimately involved with the family dynamics. The same cons as with babysitters apply here.

Family Childcare Home: This is what my business is. It makes things a little more convenient for me. Children are dropped off and picked up at my home, and I try to work around the parents’ schedules.

  • Pros: I can be open later than a daycare center if I choose to be. I can provide meals or have parents do so. I will not have as many children as at a daycare center, though your child may have one or more other children to play with while in my care. I can only have so many children in my care at one time. I am not licensed, so I can have two children unrelated to me in my care (Maine), and as many relative’s children that I feel that I can handle. I have a base rate per child. I can be flexible. I work more holidays than I take off. I am open vacations and snow days, and may allow mildly ill children to come to my home on school days. My childcare home is child-interest led, not necessarily learning based. Though children are always learning, no matter where they are. We do many different activities both at my home and in the community.
  • Cons: I am paid weekly, and can charge late fees. I may also choose not to accept a child into my care if payment is late, until I receive the payment in full. I rely completely on my income from childcare. I am not likely going to be as flexible as a nanny with my time, and you may have to drive out of your way to get to me. I will have to take odd days off from work at times, for doctor appointments and such, because I always have children in my care. I cannot always bring them with me. I may not have a set schedule.

Childcare Center: A viable solution to childcare needs. A much needed resource.

  • Pros: Children get to socialize with other children their age. They have a regular routine. They know what to expect at all times. They have many experiences.
  • Cons: Socializing in that big of an atmosphere, mostly with children their own ages, is not necessarily the healthiest way to go about ‘socializing’ a child. Kids are sick more often. Cost is a big factor, and they charge late fees as well.

Now for my experiences:

I started out a single stay-at-home mother. I babysat early on, and then went to work. The day care center had its pros and cons, but was too big for what I wanted. You had to be working steady to keep your slot, which I wasn’t doing all along. I worked there myself for a while. They were good people.

Later while working, I had family members babysitting for me. This was not ideal, particularly in one case. The woman was simply not treating my children fairly, and she hollered at them too much.

I finally decided to provide childcare myself, my sister needed care for her children, as did a friend. This was the best situation for me, and I am still providing care in my home.


Please post in the comments if you know about more options, pros and cons. We would like to here them.

The Single Mother and Men

I have noticed a trend over the years. A very disturbing one. This is not just something that I have experienced myself, but something that seems to be happening to a lot of single mothers.

I have a good heart, and I tend to start out trusting people that I bring into my life. Perhaps, it has been suggested, I am just plain too trusting. Who knows? At any rate, I always start a relationship trusting that the person that I choose is honest.

I also am a person who likes to help others.

So, when I do choose to go into a relationship, I expect the man to be a good person, pure and simple. I let the man into my heart, and into my life. I am good to him, I trust him, and I expect him to do the same for me.

I know many other single mothers who live much the same as I do. We seem to want to believe that the men we choose are good.

So, why is it that men seem to like to take advantage of us? That is the question. Even when we do decide to let someone live with us, it seems that we are just a convenience. They don’t seem to want any responsibilities, just a roof over their heads. Even those who work end up jipping us out of bill and rent money in the end. They eat our food as well.

Then, when they leave, they think that they have ownership over our food cupboards and even some of our belongings. Why is this? They want to take food out of our children’s bellies so that they do not have to go hungry. They want to ‘borrow’ money for this and that.

The funny, and most disturbing, part of this is that we do not have any extra money. We, in general, cannot afford to ‘take care of’ a man. Some of us are barely making ends meet as it is.

Many of us are really confused about how a man can come into our lives, be treated well, and use us.

So, what can we do about this? I don’t know about you, but I am on sabbatical from the whole relationship thing. I decided, after my last boyfriend, that I simply needed a break. I am figuring out who I am, and what I want. I am doing things for myself, rather than for a man. And I am enjoying not having to put up with the head games that generally come along with relationships.

I am tired of it all. And, I am getting better. I have found out some very important things about what I want and why. About what I need and why. And about what I am willing to put up with, which isn’t much.

I am doing something good for myself.


P.S. What experiences have you had with men? Let us know in the comments section.

Other Articles of Interest:

A Few Resources for the Single Mother

Single Mothers and Loneliness

Great Ways to Deal with Stress

Slumber Party Basics for Preteens

I did not go all out on birthdays parties for Skye and Zowie when they were little. Yes, there was cake, ice-cream, friends and a lot of family members in attendance, but the cost was minimal. I decided to wait until they were a bit older to go all out and, when they weren’t quite teenagers yet, we started having special slumber parties.

I began by allowing them to choose 2-4 friends to come over. They were able to create invitations and mail them. I would then decide what we would be doing at the slumber party, what special thing that I would do for them. I would purchase the necessities and surprise all of the girls with goody bags after dinner, cake and ice cream.

The birthday girl always chose the dinner and what kind of cake she wanted me to bake, as well as the ice cream. I then chose snacks.

Each year there was a different ‘theme’, and I tried not to repeat. Actually, with tow daughters, this was a twice yearly event. Below are some themes to make your daughters’ slumber party a success. The goody bags are made up to be used that night at your home. Be sure to always have a camera available to them so that you can create a scrapbook for the birthday girl.

  • Spa night: You will need to fill goody bags with spa items such as facial masks and shampoo, lotion, conditioner, shower gel and soap samples. A comb or brush would also be helpful. I would speak to parents first about the facial masks, so there aren’t any problems with matching up skin types to treatment. Each girl will shower using their stuff, and they can bring home extras.
  • Hairstyle night: Fill the goody bags with Shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and hair gel samples, as well as combs, brushes and an assortment of hair accessories.
  • Manicure and pedicure night: Fill goody bags with toe and fingernail clippers, nail polish and remover, nail files and lotion.

What have you done with your children and their friends to make their birthdays special?


Becoming A Single Mother? What will You Need?

I was visiting today and noticed that they had a calculator for figuring out how much it will cost to raise a child. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I can tell you from experience that it does not really cost as much as what the total came to, but here is the breakdown:

Expense Start Age End Age Annual Cost

Cost for first year (excluding college) is $7,568

Total cost is $187,408

Hmmm…This is all very interesting. Keep on mind the few factors that I entered:

  • I live in the North East (Maine).
  • I am single.
  • My income is less than $38,000.00 a year.
  • Also, my daughter will actually go to college for 10 years because of her career choice.
  • *Another also, this is based on 2006 costs, and my daughter was born in 1992.
  • *I do not pay for health-care for her.

What I would like to concentrate on, for the purpose of this article, is the first year costs of raising a child. I assume two things while looking over the totals above:

  • The total for the first year, $7,568.00, must reflect items purchased new.
  • The total must reflect items that are not completely necessary to raising the baby in the first year.

I will start with housing. I would not be upgrading to a new home just because I had a baby, or plan to have two, three or even four more children in the future.  So there would be no additional cost for the housing aspect itself. I live in a three bedroom manufactured home.

The other housing costs – utilities and such – would not go up significantly in that first year, either. Just a little extra water and electricity would be used for bathing and feeding, as well as laundry.

As for food, I would breast feed as long as I could, and I would likely choose to make my own baby foods using organic food items. This could be a little costly, but babies don’t eat that much in the first year. I would also have to add the cost of baby cereal. Feeding would still likely be the single most expensive expense the first year, if laundry costs were not.

Clothing costs would be minimal because, as soon as I knew that I was expecting, I would be yardsaling, checking out my local freecycle chapter and shopping clearance sales. I would also accept any hand-me-downs offered. Thrift shops would be my best friends.

Cloth diapers and the accessories needed may be the only things that I would have to pay full price for. And, if laundry is kept up on, I should only need a few packages of the diapers. The cost of washing them would add to the water and electric bills slightly.

Okay, now that all of that is out of the way, you can plainly see that I know where to save money, and how to do it well. I will now move on to what your baby really needs in that first year of life:

  • Love
  • Warmth
  • Food: Breast milk will help you save tons of money. And you may wish to check out the WIC program.
  • Crib: 2 sheets, 2 summer blankets, 2 winter blankets
  • Dresser
  • Infant car seat
  • Toddler car seat
  • Stroller: For me, because I love to walk. Some do not, so could save here.
  • A baby gate or two
  • A playpen
  • A high chair
  • Bottles, if necessary, and/or a breast pump
  • Diapers and accessories
  • Baby bag
  • Warm weather sleepers
  • Cold weather sleepers
  • Jacket
  • Coat/snowsuit
  • Mittens
  • Hat
  • Onesies
  • Nail Clippers
  • De-snotter
  • Teething gel
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Q-tips
  • Homemade baby wipes
  • Baby bath, shampoo, powder and lotion
  • Baby spoons
  • Sippy cups
  • A couple of age appropriate toys to keep them entertained.
  • A thermometer.

Well, there you go. My necessities list. Can any of you think of any other necessities (not wants) for the first year? Please post them in the comments.

As you can see, most of the items in the list above can be aquired second hand. I would take advantage of that.


Should we get a Cat?

Yes! Okay, I am biased here. I love cats!

There are definitely some things that you should consider if you would like to get a cat for your family.

  • Are you allowed to have a cat where you live? If you rent, you may not be able to. You may be able to convince your landlord to allow a cat if you are willing to get them declawed/put caps on their nails and to pay an extra security deposit. You may also have to get them fixed.
  • Are you and your children willing to change and scoop litter boxes? That is a smelly job, but someone has to do it.
  • What happens if the cat gets sick or hurt? Can you afford to take care of it?
  • Are rabies and distemper shots really necessary? Please check this out well. What harm could they potentially do?
  • Do you want to get your cat fixed? I will say that, if you let your cat roam they should be fixed. Male cats will spray up your home, and it can be costly getting those odors out of everything. I have three females, one is two. She has yet to spray anything, but the boys were spraying everything at six months of age. My other two girls aren’t at the age where they may spray yet, but friend tells me that it is extremely rare for female cats to spray.
  • Male cats need special food to prevent UTI’s but 9-Lives carries the food at a very reasonable price. It is the second cheapest dry food at our grocery store. I no longer give our cats wet food, it is not necessary.
  • Flea treatments do not work 100%. The best way that I know of to keep fleas at bay is to comb your pets with a flea comb whenever possible. We do this with ours when they lay with us, so they are each getting combed a few times a week. There are still a few fleas here and there, but not near as many as when we were using flea treatments. Combing is also a lot healthier for your family and the cats.
  • Cats like to be alone and will be able to stay alone for long hours each day as long as they have food and plenty of water.
  • Cats can be trained to be very lovey or more reserved. I prefer lovey cats because they will take more abuse from children.

At any rate, I do recommend cats as pets for families, but only when done responsibly while not adding to the stray cat population in any neighborhood.


Should we get a Dog?

One of the women whom I babysit for called me last week to ask if I would be willing to watch a puppy for her when I while I babysit her children. In all honesty, though I think that puppies are cute and I like dogs, I am not real big on dogs in general.

I am a cat person, plain and simple.

But this article will deal with the reasons why I do not want a dog myself and, therefore, why I will not get one and I do not want to dog-sit. As well as why I do not think that they are the best pets for those who are gone for long periods of time.

I actually did puppy sit for my sister, but I don’t really know enough about dogs to do this with the greatest of success.

  • Dogs need to be let out to go to the bathroom. I have been told that smaller dogs can be litter trained, though.
  • Dogs need to be walked. This is fine with me, when they are small I can do this, but when they are big and are stronger than me, I cannot physically walk them. They are then walking me.
  • Dogs are loud. As a person who walks often, I can tell you that this is the most annoying thing that I have to deal with on a daily basis. I walk past the same houses and trailers nearly every day, and the same dogs bark at me excessively each day. This is very nerve racking when you are walking to dispel stress. They see you every day. Dogs can be trained to only bark at those entering your yard.
  • Dogs need to be trained to behave properly. This is so important, but if you are not home all day long six days a week, how can you train them? However, once trained a dog can stay inside – even if in a kennel – for long periods of time.
  • Too many people do not scoop the poop! Gross! While puppy sitting, I scooped the poop. It’s the law for a reason!
  • Dogs get loose, go into neighbors yards to menace them, play or relieve themselves. My yard is my yard. I like to walk barefoot. If the neighbors dog gets into my yard, they should be there to scoop the poop.
  • Dogs do not always like to be outside for any real period of time. Your neighbor does not want to hear your dog barking and whining to be let in during her normal sleep hours. For some of us, that will have us up for hours every night when we should be sleeping.

Now, there are good points to having a dog, companionship and protection being the two biggest benefits as far as I can see. Which does make them great assets to a family. I just think that you should think twice about getting a dog if you are gone for long periods of time each day. Dogs like to be near their people.

I do believe that the use of a kennel is important in training, especially when your dog is trying to eat everything in site. But I’m not sure if I like the thought of them in kennels all day long. I would really have to consider that if I ever did decide to get a dog.

I guess the issue with me puppy sitting for the woman mentioned before is that she wants me to take the dog into my home. Now, I would not be able to go to her house every day to take care of the dogs needs, but I am even less likely to have the dog in my home. I have five cats. They don’t like other animals. I do not have time to go to her house to take care of the dog.

Yes, when her nine year old daughter is not in school she could be looking after the dog, but in my experience, children soon lose interest in the demands of a dog when they are the ones who are mainly responsible for their care. Taking care of the dog cuts into their lives, and I’m not sure that I would want that for my child.

On the other hand, it would teach the child responsibility. But I still think that a family effort would be best.

I am really interested in hearing other peoples thoughts on this topic. Please respond in the comments below if you have any advice for children having dogs.


Single Mothers and Loneliness

Loneliness can be a big issue for a single mother, especially if she does not choose to be single. I am a pretty strong person, and I do not normally even let myself feel lonely, but sometimes it can really get me down.

In all honesty, I mostly feel lonely during some sort of crisis. You know, like death, loss of job, nephew driving me crazy. That is when I wish that I had someone here to hold me. Really, I can talk to just about anyone. So it is really just the absence of someone to hold me.

Right now, I am feeling lonely because I would like to have someone there to hold me. I am so stressed out it isn’t even funny. I feel as though nothing will ever be okay again, even though deep down I know that this is not the case.

I can’t do anything about not having anyone to hold me during these trying times, but there are things that we can all do to help ourselves to feel less lonely.

  • Talk. I have a feeling that there will soon be a day when I call my best friend and we go to McDonald’s to talk. I have so much on my mind these days, that this will likely be a necessary step. Why McDonald’s? It is cheap, pure and simple.
  • Read a good book. I just read the entire Twilight series in less than two weeks, and it helped to keep my mind off everything that has been stressing me out. It was a big help, even though it is meant for a younger readership. I was addicted to that like I was to the Harry Potter series. That does not happen often with me.
  • Walk. I do this a lot any way, but when I am stressed I may walk two or three times a day.
  • Blog. I have a private MySpace where only my friends and family gather. I can blog about near about anything on there.

What ideas do you have for helping with loneliness? Mention them in the comments below.


P.S. What ideas do you have for helping with loneliness? Mention them in the comments below.

Other Articles of Interest:

A Few Resources for the Single Mother

Resources for Women’s Health Concerns

Books for the Single Mother

Great Movies About Single Moms

The Single Mother and Men

Great Ways to Deal with Stress

I know that a lot of people have been feeling very stressed lately. I am no exception. I have been entirely too stressed out for just over a month now, and things do not seem to be getting better now that the holidays are over.

 I would simply like to offer up some ideas for how we can all destress this winter.

  • Take a long walk. Pay attention to nature, and work whatever is bothering you out in your head.

  • Take a long bath. Do not think of anything stressful.

  • Read. I have been doing this one a lot. Reading helps me to block out all random thoughts.

  • Watch mindless television. No, really, I am watching the Love Comes Softly series, as well as other movies when I can. It does help to relax.

  • Exercise.

  • Write. I like this one. Sometimes if I write things out, they become clearer. Sometimes, I have to write stories to forget about annoying issues.

  • Go out for coffee with a friend and talk things out. I wonder how many people that my best friend and I have traumatized at McDonald’s this year due to these outings.


P.S. What is your best way to deal with stress? Let us know in the comments section below.

Other Articles of Interest:

Single Mothers and Loneliness

The Single Mother and Men

Daily Life for This Single Mom