A Guide to Juggling Work Obligations as a Single Parent


Being a working parent is a juggling act, and as a single parent, it can often seem like all the balls are flying at you at once. There is often no separation between work and family, which can potentially create stress and anxiety in your home. When the line starts to blur throughout the day with you filling out forms for sports while at your desk and responding to work emails from home, you need to take measures to gain some control.

Around 15% of Australian families are single-parent families according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and it’s now the fastest growing type of family in the country. The challenges are the same as in more conventional families but you may feel added pressure financially or feel like there isn’t enough time for both parenting and work.

The key is to find more flexibility, so keep reading to learn some useful tips that will help you feel more in control at work and at home as a single parent.

Know Your Options

For parents with regular working hours, childcare centres can be a great option as they are designed to work around predictable schedules. If your working hours change from week to week, a nanny or babysitter can fill the gaps that regular child care doesn’t cover. Family day care facilities operate from a private residence with a qualified provider and offer family focused, flexible care options that can be appealing to parents.

If you want ultimate flexibility, a live-in au-pair or nanny can help not only during work hours but also with activities such as shopping, doctor’s appointments or watching your other children while you take the others to football, ballet or whatever other activities they have on that day.

Having childcare that you are comfortable with, can afford and that fits around your work schedule can relieve a lot of parenting worries. Whether you decide to find a nanny in Melbourne or prefer a family daycare closer to home, there are many great options to choose from.

Make It Work

If you’re struggling to reach a balance between job and family, talk with your employer about flexible work options. The Fair Work Act 2009 provides employees in the national workplace relations system, the right to request work flexibility.

Flexible work arrangements might be something as simple as adjusting start and finish times around your school drop-off and pick-up times. You might have scope to switch to part-time work or enter into a job-share agreement. Speak to your boss about the possibility of working longer hours over fewer days or even working from home. Options like these give you more flexibility and allow you to organise your time between work and parenting with more efficiency.

All employers must seriously consider requests for flexible work arrangements and must respond in writing within 21 days of the request being made. It never hurts to ask, and if you need help writing the letter to request work flexibility check the guidelines provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Have the Best of Both Worlds

Your work life and home life are both important. Don’t apologise for taking time off for family emergencies but remember family responsibilities are not an excuse for not fulfilling your work duties. It can be difficult to juggle your parenting and work commitments but it’s ultimately up to you to find a way to make it work.

With so many great childcare options available, give due consideration to each one and find something that fits your schedule and your budget. Speak with your employer about your options and see if they can offer some additional flexibility. Once you have worked out a system that works, you’ll be more relaxed at home and at work, will be happier in yourself and can finally have the best of both worlds. After all, a happy parent means a happy child and that’s the end-goal for every parent.

If you have any questions, please ask below!