My Story: Single Parent Success Story

by Kathy B.

I've been a single mom for about four years. I have three daughters, l3, ll, and 7. I buy all of my food fresh and cook from scratch usually on weekends. I teach and am usually so tired that I save all cleaning for Saturday. I try to cook and feed my children at 5:00 , letting them play before dinner and do homework afterwards.

I feel very fortunate to have a career in teaching that has the same schedule as my children do. When they were younger I taught Montessori at the preschool level and got either reduced tuition as a teacher, or free tuition. I could not have put them into the quality programs they were in otherwise. We are now in different schools but at least have similar schedules. I am usually finished up at school by 4:30 which gives me time to spend with them in the evenings. I now work as a Music teacher in a Montessori school and teach private lessons after school to augment my income.

Being a teacher can sometimes be very tiring and I'm sure all single parents are tired so I limit heavy cleaning and laundry, shopping and cooking to weekends and just do the minimum on weeknights. I try to have some quiet time to myself and get my children to read on their beds from about 8 or 8:30 on. They do homework, lay out clothes for the next day, have the backpacks packed near the door the night before so all they have to do is dress and eat breakfast in the morning. After spending years of, "I can't find my other sock!" in the morning, this makes the morning much saner. We are out the door by 7:00 a.m. because middle school starts at 7:20 which I though would be impossible but we somehow are doing it. Because so much is prepared the night before it doesn't seem like such an impossible task. I even set the breakfast table the night before and put a small pitcher of milk in the fridge for my 7 year old who spills if she tries to pour the heavy gallon jug herself.

Saturday we clean together and the reward for finishing all the jobs is going hiking, biking, to the library or sometimes renting a video. While they watch the video in the early evening I go grocery shopping by myself and sometimes wander looking at products or magazines for fun. Then Sunday is cooking day. We read the Sunday paper and try to have a leisurely morning and I cook the food I've bought for the week ahead. I love the crock pot and sometimes fill it the night before on a school night, take it out of the fridge and plug it in in the a.m. It's so great to come home and smell the food cooking and know it's already done. In the winter bread and soups are many meals for us. One time saving trick I do is to use an egg slicer to slice mushrooms into recipes. It's much quicker than slicing them by hand and cheaper than buying canned. My rule of thumb is to buy only fresh ingredients and I try not to buy processed foods. It saves a lot of money and is more delicious in the long run.

Another tip passed on to me by a friend who buys clothing from garage sales and consignment shops is that you can remove food stains more successfully with a combination of laundry and dishwasher detergent than laundry detergent alone. It works especially well for baby stains on bibs and clothing that tend to have gotten set in with repeated washing and drying.

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