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How I take care of a toddler as a single mother in Chicago (guest post)

Single mom in Chicago

Please welcome Ann today with a guest post about how she gets through the highs and lows of life as a single mother in Chicago with a toddler.

Being a parent is a full-time job in and of itself, and when you’re doing it alone as I am, the days can definitely feel long. As a single mother, it’s up to me to keep my toddler busy and make sure he has all the tools he needs to grow while still taking care of me.

Sometimes it feels like too much, but I count myself lucky to live in a city full of resources for us both to enjoy. Chicago has it all, from new restaurants to easy day trips that let us both learn a little something!

Keeping it together isn’t always easy.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m in no way the perfect parent. Even so, I have found some ways to make single parenting a little easier on myself.

Whether you’re a newly single mother or a seasoned one looking for some new tips, you might benefit from these simple hacks that help you care for your little one.

Make cost-effective decisions

I know it’s easier said than done but trying to save a buck where you can is key to giving your child the best, and you don’t have to give up trips to the salon or shopping days with the ladies to do it! Coupon clipping is one way to get a few extra savings whenever possible.

Quick online searches can pull up some of the best sales. There are even easy-to-use coupon codes that give discounts!

Another HUGE way I’ve found to save when caring for my toddler is simply choosing childcare that isn’t as pricey as some of the other options. As appealing as hiring an in-home nanny sounded, I quickly realized how expensive they could be and ended up finding that daycare costs a little less.

According to this article from LadyBug, nannies can cost upwards of $20 an hour, while the right daycare may only cost you $38 per day. Talk about a big difference!

It all depends on your child’s age, the program they enroll in, and the daycare center you choose, of course. But, most Chicago daycares won’t exceed more than $50 for a full day’s care.

Childcare is an integral part of your child’s development and learning. So, saving where you can while still getting them a solid educational foundation is key.

Take advantage of day trips

Living in Chicago opens so many opportunities for day trips! There is seriously so much to do and so much to see within a few miles that you’ll never run out of ideas on those weekends where you have no idea how else to keep the kids busy.

When your child is as little as mine, you will want to find toddler-friendly options that will keep them occupied while you are out and about. Chicago is full of awesome museums that toddlers and their parents alike can enjoy. But no matter where you go, be sure to pack a bag full of snacks, juice, and games in case the little one gets cranky.

Taking a toddler out and about isn’t always easy.  It might seem more appealing to turn on a movie and stay home all day. But if you find a place they love to visit (and believe me, there are PLENTY of choices in Chicago), then they’ll be occupied all day with awesome activities.

Choose the right daycare

As a single mom, I know the importance of finding a place to care for your toddler during the workweek. Since my family isn’t local, daycare was definitely the best route for me to take.

The Windy City offers a wide variety of daycares for you to choose from so you can feel confident knowing you’ll have plenty of options. Deciding which is the right one is a challenge, but you can take a look at some top local daycare picks that all have awesome reviews.

What I did, and what I would recommend, is to look for a daycare that best matches your parenting style. Your toddler would benefit from a setting that aligns with how you care for them at home while still encouraging them to use their imagination and learn through creativity.

Daycares tend to follow a routine that exposes children to resources that aid in their cognitive and social development. Caregivers are highly trained to support child growth, so you can feel confident that your toddler will benefit from almost any good quality daycare you choose.

Daycare has been a game-changer in my family’s life—my son loves to go in the mornings and always has positive things to share when I pick him up at the end of the day. And while he’s learning, I can work full-time to support us.

Prep meals for the week

I know just as well as the next parent that the workweek is chaotic. From getting your toddler dressed in the morning to dropping them off on time before work, there’s hardly a free moment to plan what comes next.

For me, preparing meals ahead of time gets me one step ahead before the week starts. On Sundays, I compile a shopping list of all the meals I want to make in the week, then get them ready to go when I return from the grocery store.

Let me tell you, meals you can freeze and quickly defrost when it’s time for dinner are a lifesaver. Casseroles, soups, and baked dishes are some of my personal favorites for easy-to-freeze and quick meals.

Knowing what dinners for the week will be can lift a massive weight off your shoulders. It gives you one less thing to worry about every day.

Being a single mother is not an easy task, but I’ve found many ways to give my toddler the best. It’s all about creative problem solving and taking the days as they come!

About today’s writer

Ann Holmes is a professional journalist with a toddler. She can be found on her laptop, and travels often, including to the beach.

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