Being a parent, at the best of times, is challenging. But a single parent? Well, that’s some next level stuff right there. Juggling the needs of your children without a partner can be downright overwhelming. Add to that the singlehanded control of house repairs, finances, shopping, academic and emotional support, as well as your own self-care and you might find yourself walking a daily tightrope of stress, anxiety and, yes, even fear.
As a single parent, sometimes all we want to know is that we are not alone. County Health Rankings, a national organization that uses the American Community Survey (ACS) to evaluate nationwide family and health trends, reports that as many as 64% of children in Richmond City live in a single parent household. Surrounding counties like Chesterfield and Goochland report much lower numbers, but with national averages hovering around 30%, single parenting is not as uncommon as we might think.
Whether you’re a single parent part-time or full-time, by choice or by circumstance, the fact is that you probably need all of the help you can get. The following tips, suggestions and resources are intended to help alleviate some of those stresses that plague us all as parents, but that can seem that much more overwhelming if you’re on your own.
Around the House
Whether you’ve always been a single parent or you’re newly on your own, getting things done around the house presents a unique set of challenges. Without a partner to share responsibilities with, the repairs, maintenance and decorating fall on your shoulders. Having family and friends to call on can make a world of difference. But for those times that no one is available to help, having a reliable list of handyman services, low-cost cleaning services and affordable resources for furniture and other household goods is essential.
From small repairs to plumbing emergencies, knowing where to find the best, most affordable services can be daunting. Here are some sources to help you find local businesses that have already been vetted for you:
Angie’s List – This well-known service provides crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses. In the past, Angie’s List was available only through paid subscription. However, for the first time in twenty years, Angie’s List offers a FREE membership plan. Visit Angie’s List to find out about local services ranging from household and auto repairs to health and wellness.
Done.com – With simple pricing and online booking, Done.com eliminates the need to call around for household repair services. Hire a handyman for a few hours for one low price, or get fast quotes for services like plumbing, oil changes or appliance installs.
In a one-income household, hiring a housecleaner is a luxury that many of us cannot afford. But many cleaning services offer one-time specials, deep cleaning or seasonal cleaning that can help to take the stress off during those times that we feel like our house is running us instead of the other way around. Ask around to get recommendations, check out Angie’s List as mentioned above, or try one of these top-rated services in the Richmond area.
The Maid Crew – With a current promo of $79 for 3-hours of cleaning, The Maid Crew offers reduced rates for recurring maid services and discounts for one-time cleanings.
Two Maids & A Mop – This top-rated maid service is locally owned and operated, offering a variety of services and a unique “Pay for Performance” plan that relies on your review to determine your service provider’s compensation.
Every household, two parent or otherwise, is faced with the need for affordable furniture and household goods. From finding things to meet your basic needs to getting rid of your old or outgrown things to make room for a fresh new look, when it’s just you and the kids, often it feels like there’s never enough money, time or manpower to get it done. Fortunately, Richmond offers a number of resources to make the task easier.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore – The retail outlet of Habitat for Humanity, ReStore offers donated building and home improvement supplies, furniture, home décor and appliances at significantly reduced prices.
ReStore – Richmond
1901 Roane Street, Richmond, VA 23222
ReStore – Hanover
9159 Atlee Road, Mechanicsville, VA 23116
Online Yard Sales and Swaps – In addition to sites like Craigslist.com, Richmond offers a number of opportunities to buy, sell, trade, barter or even find free household goods and furniture through online resources such as:
Finances for Single Parent
Read any article on single parenting and finances are going to come up…most likely more than once. Experts stress the importance, especially for one-income single parent homes, of monthly budgeting and perhaps the most daunting task of all, estate planning. But many financial planners, tax preparation services and lawyers cost money that we don’t always want – or have- to spend. Fortunately, there are a number of free or low-cost resources that can help to make these tasks easier.
Mint – This free, online budgeting tool can be used on your computer or smartphone. Simply enter basic financial information and Mint automatically tracks your spending in preset or customized categories. Best of all, because it’s powered by Intuit, Mint transfers data directly to Turbo Tax for easier tax preparation.
Virginia Credit Union: Free Seminars and Workshops – From advice on how to build a budget to teaching your teen about money, Virginia Credit Union provides expert advice at no cost to you. Check here to see upcoming events.
Pennyborn.com – Designed to help you with easy, affordable estate planning, Pennyborn.com offer free forms, advice, checklists and planning worksheets. Find everything you need to plan matters like wills and trusts, living wills, life insurance, financial planning and much more.
Law Depot – Find free legal forms, contracts and documents for wills and trusts, financial transactions and more. With all forms available for download, Law Depot makes challenging tasks just a little bit easier by putting many of the resources you need at your fingertips.
IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – With the IRS VITA program, qualified families can receive free tax help and preparation from certified tax specialists in Virginia.
Online Grocery Shopping
Most days, I’m convinced my children think that food just magically appears in the pantry. They don’t see the planning, time and effort that goes into keeping staples in the fridge, snacks on the shelves and dinner on the table. When after work hours are filled with children’s pick-ups, sports, meal prep and other activities, finding time to shop is a challenge. Thankfully, a number of local grocery stores and food services offer online ordering with in-store pick-up or home delivery (for an added fee) that can save valuable time. Here are a few options in the Richmond area:
Kroger – With Kroger’s ClickList program, you can shop at select Kroger stores for more than 40,000 grocery items, including fresh meat, produce and dairy items, then set a time and location for pick-up. ClickList is currently available at five Richmond area stores, including West Cary Street in Richmond, Tim Price Highway in North Chesterfield, Atlee Road in Mechanicsville, Staples Mill Road in Henrico and Polo Parkway in Midlothian.
Relay Foods – This online grocer features healthy, responsibly (and often, locally) sourced foods that can be delivered to your door or picked up free of charge at one of their pick-up locations at the time of your choosing.
WalMart – Like Kroger, select WalMart stores in the Richmond area allow you to do your grocery shopping online then select a pick-up time and location. To find out if your local WalMart provides this time saving service, click here.
Target – For most of us, Target is that place we go to grab two small items and end up leaving with two large carts. Now you can avoid the many temptations of Target while still getting your grocery and household shopping done. With an easy search option that allows you to browse items by “buy online pick and up today,” “shipping” or “in store,” you can choose the method that best suits your needs. And with more than 400 items available for discount subscription service, you can have your favorite staples automatically shipped right to your door for less. Online ordering and free in store pick up is available at the Forest Hill, Richmond East, Virginia Center Commons, Chester and Colonial Heights locations.
Amazon PrimeNow – The latest and greatest feature of Amazon, the site that taught us that we could shop for Christmas without ever leaving the house, PrimeNow provides FREE on-demand grocery delivery in as little as two hours – and best of all, it’s now available in Richmond. There is a $20 order minimum for free delivery and and you must have an Amazon Prime account. Prime memberships cost $99/year, but with all the perks, including free two-day shipping on many items, as well as PrimeNow delivery, it might just be worth the expense.
Far from being a statement about your ability as a parent, mentoring programs can provide valuable support for your children. As a single parent, you don’t always have the time or resources found in a two-parent home. Mentors give kids that extra attention they need in a safe and loving environment. Here are a few programs that you might want to check out.
Outreach Involvement Center – Located on Hull Street in Richmond, Outreach Involvement Center works with youth between the ages of 7 and 20 to provide programs that help to build intellect, character and academic and interpersonal skills.
Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond – Long known for its work with kids of all ages, the Boys and Girls Club focuses on empowering today’s youth, especially those whose circumstances might not be ideal. With locations in the East End, Northside, Southside and Petersburg, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond draws on decades of experience in providing kids the emotional, physical and intellectual support they need to succeed.
Transforming Today’s Youth (T.T.Y.) – Designed for children between the ages of 13 and 18, T.T.Y. is an education-focused program that uses mentoring as a means of inspiring, educating and grooming kids from all walks of life for future success. With an emphasis on intellectual and emotional well-being, T.T.Y. offers college prep, financial aid process assistance and mentoring.
The time comes when, perhaps, we’ve maxed out our math skills or we just don’t have what it takes to help our kids prepare for the next level of academic success. There are many tutoring options available for single parents to consider such as free or low-cost options available through local schools, libraries and other resource centers, tutoring services such as College Nannies and Tutors, School Tutoring Academy and Varsity Tutors, and private tutors through Care.com. Every child’s needs are different as well as every single parent’s situation. Therefore, investigate all of the options available before making a decision.
Scholarships for Kids with Single Parents
We want our children to have a bright future in life. College can be of great help but the thought of being able to afford it can seem impossible even for 2 parent households. What do you do? There is a non-profit organization called Teens Without 2 that provides college scholarship opportunities for teens from single parent households. The organization was started by Katie Mitchell (VCU grad!) and it gives hope to kids and parents coming from single parent households that otherwise might not even consider college.
Extra Support for Single Parents
Too often, we forget about ourselves in the midst of trying to meet our children’s many needs. What we often fail to realize is that the stronger we are, the better our children will be. Finding like-minded people who not only understand what we’re going through, but can also help with support, advice and compassion, is essential to surviving the many rigors of parenthood, single or otherwise. Click here for Richmond Area Parenting Groups.
To see a complete list of single parenting resources available in the Richmond area, click here.
Being a single parent comes with many challenges, but many rewards, as well. Watching our kids not just grow, but thrive, creates a sense of pride and confidence that is hard to match. But as the well-known Nigerian proverb says, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” If you find that, at times, your village is too small to meet the needs of you and your family, don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help you need.
Do you know of any other Richmond area single parenting resources? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!