Single Mom Breadwinners: What's The Secret to Success?
Studies show that the number of breadwinning moms is on the rise—including some seriously ambitious sisters who are doing it for themselves. How? Here, five single moms share how to balance being Mom and the main money maker
Kimberly Seals Allers
Profession: journalist, author, founder of MochaManual.com
Number of Children: 2 children, ages 9 and 13
City: Queens, New York
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome as a working single parent?
I would say my first obstacle was transitioning into single parenthood after my divorce. That was actually my catalyst to leave my career as a journalist (I was a senior editor at Essence magazine at the time), even though everyone said that leaving my job at that particular time was a bad idea and too risky—for me there was a greater risk of not being there for my children and that was a risk I was not willing to take. So that combined with having courage and confidence in myself, even when others were doubting me, were the biggest obstacles.
How do you juggle work and childcare?
It is definitely a challenge. My parents live in South Carolina and I have very little family nearby that is able to help me. When I was still working at Essence I was able to have in-home child care and then as I transitioned to an at-home entrepreneur I really had to give up sleeping hours and work around their school schedule to get work done since I could not afford full-time child care. I took advantage of free camps and programs in my town and kept my kids busy with activities while I was often working in the car waiting in the parking lot.
At this point, I have a regular babysitter but when I have to travel for book events or speaking engagements it can get very expensive so if I have to be away for more than two overnights then I usually fly my mom up from South Carolina—they are retired now and mostly able to help. That is a blessing, although I wish they were closer. Many other times, child care is a complex logistical machine… it is very stressful.
What’s your best advice for fellow single working moms?
Get support!! I know we all suffer from supermom syndrome but there is no way we can do it alone. Believe in yourself—unfortunately there is a lot of single mom bashing in political circles and in the media. We are told single moms are to blame for every societal ill and that our children are doomed to a life of substandard success. Ironically, this is all happening as our President is the product of a single mother. So my best advice is don’t believe the hype! We are not the stereotypes. We are not going to be the scapegoat for America’s deeply rooted problems, which never mention the impact of fathers or deadbeat dads for that matter. We are smarter than that. And we have to know that with extra work, support and yes, lots of sacrifices we can be successful at work and parenting.
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