Question of the week: How can single parents overcome unique summertime problems?




Upon reading the post Dreading the summer as a single parent, a Single & Parenting leader responded with some concerns single parents had shared with her about the summer months.

  1. Daycare costs go up dramatically. One mom said she usually pays for after-school care and now will pay for full daycare. Her expenses are going from $250 to more than $800 a month. How can single parents keep costs down?
  2. Many single parents are without their children for a month. They seem to be lost and don’t know what to do. Some parents need that time and are very refreshed by getting the break. Others are heartbroken and really struggle. What ideas do you have for those who struggle when they have a month without the kids?

Child care arrangements

Local and state resource and referral agencies can help you find child care in your area. They can also describe and educate you on the various types of child care arrangements you can access, as well as funding to help defer the cost of expensive summer child care.

Mainly, there are four different approved arrangements

  • Child care centers
  • Family child care
  • In-home caregivers
  • Care provided by relatives, friends, and neighbors

Federal agencies, such as the Child Care Development Fund, can help you find resources in every state.

One thing to keep in mind is the law in your state regarding child care. To date, there are no federal child care regulations. Each state develops its own regulations and licensees. Before you leave your children with anyone, make sure that person, agency, or program is approved and monitored by the governing agencies where you live.

Other child care suggestions

  • Informal arrangements on a short-term basis might include having a neighbor watch your child one or two days a week.
  • Ask grandparents or other relatives to provide for your child one day a week.
  • Access the senior/boomer population at your church. Many older people will welcome an opportunity to pour into a child’s life during the summer. Perhaps older people in your church whose grandkids don’t live close by could help out a week or two during the summer months.
  • Ask a teen from your church family to help you out a couple of days a week, and send your children to a formal program, such as the YMCA, Salvation Army, or church programs, the rest of the week.
  • Ask the children’s minister at your church about stay-at-home mothers or fathers in your church who don’t work during the summer months. Ask if they would be willing to allow you to walk their dogs, water their plants, or mow their yards in exchange for watching your children during the summer.
  • If your children’s other parent is on the scene, ask for the other parent to help with child care arrangements over the summer
  • Some companies work with single parents by allowing them to work four 10-hour days instead of five days a week during the summer months. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Access church camps during the summer months. Here is an excellent tip from the article, Schools Out, Now What?: “Check camp ratings, state licensure and safety standards—and make sure day camps have procedures in place for dealing with restraining orders and unplanned visits from the other parent.”

Single parents alone during the summer

Many single parents struggle with their children being gone for an extended period of time. Some single parents might go through a kind of withdrawal when their children are gone.

The church can step in and help many single parents during this time. Contact single parents, and ask what you can do to help them survive their summer without the kids.

Set up a movie night where single parents come together to watch a movie. Ask one single parent whose kids are gone to be in charge of this event or serve on a team to organize a couple of evenings of movie watching.

More ideas for the single parent

  • Go on a one-day outing on the weekend. Invited other single parents to join you.
  • Tackle a project you’ve been putting off.
  • Take time to clean out closets and reorganize your home.
  • Read some books not related to your job or parenting issues this summer.
  • Get involved in a single-parent forum where you can exchange ideas about parenting alone.

If your church hosts Single & Parenting, encourage lonely single parents to join your group. If your church has a weekly Bible study or small group, let single parents know about the group. In other words, get them connected to other single parents in your church family.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on June 22, 2015.

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