Being a single mom is not an easy challenge for a number of reasons. But one specifically cuts to the chase: It's hard to pull off financially. I know. With my youngest child now entering college, I am proud of the unique ways I have attempted to keep us financially afloat post divorce. With one graduated and two now in college, I'm happy to think I'm sort of, almost there. No pity parties asked for, but it's pretty easy to understand why it's hard for single moms to pull it all off.
But, when I read about a group of single moms who'd actually moved in together to financially support each other, I thought: Wow that makes sense. I mean, doesn't it? And why didn't I think of that?
By cohabitating, single moms and their families share expenses, babysitting and an extra pair of eyes and ears to deal with all that goes into parenting.
So, out of curiosity, and because I have come to realize that "single parenting," is a total misnomer (filling in for an absent parent should really be called "double parenting"), I decided to explore this idea more thoroughly.
Here is what I discovered.
Single moms living together are being billed as "momunes." Unlike the communes that formed in the sixties and seventies, when moms gathered under one roof to provide emotional support and share parenting duties, today's versions are less driven by the emotional connections and more by financial motivators. The economy has knocked us all, but it is inspiring creative options for many sub-groups, and single moms are hopping on the bandwagon on that front.
According to Help for Single Mothers, a web resource for single moms, shared housing is the new reality for single moms. The research suggests that moms moving in with other moms and their kids is driven by what they bill as "transition poverty." Basically, it's what happens when single moms struggling to pay bills for a bunch of kids, without the cash from a two-parent living arrangement, find it difficult to pay their bills.
And, it's not just something we're feeling on a gut level. Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California Berkeley are finding that the current poor economy is sending many single moms into poverty as they struggle to pay bills.
"This research shows a significant increase in income instability among single mothers over the 1990s, as women rely more on earnings rather than welfare income," Rebecca Blank, co-director of the National Poverty Center at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy says in the report. "Unfortunately, earnings fluctuate much more from month-to-month."
All this said, I'm wondering why I am living alone (and struggling to pay the bills) for a four bedroom house with two college-aged kids, instead of opening myself to more progressive (and realistic) options like sharing expenses with another single mom.
Who aspires to be divorced and a single mom? Not many. But we do what it takes to keep it all going and be the best moms (and dads) we can be on our own, bucking a lot of odds, including the financial realities.
I'm not sure I'm ready to find another mom to move in with. But I am impressed with the creativity and practicality behind these efforts to offer our kids a financially realistic place to call home.
Would you move in with another single mom to save money?
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