The Fully Loaded

The Fully Loaded is the descriptive name for the single parent without an active parenting partner. Among the women who responded to the PRIMARY DILEMMA™ research, 6% were Fully Loaded.  Of note, a higher percentage of respondents reported to be single mothers but acknowledged co-parenting with someone else.

This method is fully responsible for both work and parenting, her choice is not which but how much of each.  The most consistent feedback on single motherhood is the need for help from others and the challenge of getting it. For the Fully Loaded, it is essential to create a village of help. The following two profiles demonstrate the strategies used by two Fully Loaded moms in managing career and family.

Susan (Teacher): “A career in teaching has afforded me the opportunity to earn a living and yet still be around for my child…a conscious choice I made when I was in college (if only I was that mature with all of my decisions in college). My schedule is predictable. My son is now at school with me. We are a team. Our school is also a pretty supportive place. It has become our extended family.”

Shauna (Comptroller): “I am the head of a department and have a staff to manage. I must be present in the office as much as possible. I also have a long commute. For these reasons, I chose a nanny vs. daycare or after school care. It is a lot more convenient for my schedule and I depend on her to stay home with my kids if school is out or there is a holiday (sometime if they are sick). I also depend on her to do some of my food shopping and laundry. Because I am a divorced mom, she is my “other-half”. Her help supports the balance in our house. She understands the importance of my work and she is incredible with my kids.”

Susan and Shauna are both Fully Loaded but their approaches to work and family balance are entirely different. The Fully Loaded profile is a bit of an outlier in the PRIMARY DILEMMA™ framework.  A Fully Loaded is a functional role, not a mindset.  The Fully Loaded mom may adopt the approach of an Obliged, like Susan, or a Workable, like Shauna.  Susan has created a career that enables her to be a very present parent.  Shauna has created a support structure that enables her to drive a demanding career. Both approaches can be successful and are consistent with the profile of Fully Loaded.  A Fully Loaded would not fit the profile of an Equalizer or Parentess because of the dynamics of being a single parent.  

Work: The Fully Loaded maintains significant (if not exclusive) financial responsibility for her family. As a result, she must maintain a job with sufficient earning power to support her family.  A key career theme for the Fully Loaded is to find a job or career that is stable and sustainable because there may be less stability in other parts of daily life (childcare, etc). Finding enjoyment and satisfaction in a job is also important and will hopefully support job sustainability.  Click here for more information on work in the Resource Section.

Childcare: Childcare should be as reliable as possible.  As a Fully Loaded, you will customize childcare around the demands of your job.  If you work long hours, commute or travel, you will need to have a fully designated person as caregiver for your children. The working moms surveyed, who were in this situation, identified many options for caregivers: grandparents, nannies, etc. Consistently, the caregiver was a person who was reliable and fully accountable.

The caregiver has to understand how important she or he is to YOUR SUCCESS (professionally and personally). And you have to treat that person with corresponding regard and respect. If your caregiver is an employee and not a family member, be sure to communicate your needs and expectations upfront. The hours may be long. The skills that you require may be more sophisticated than babysitting. You will need someone who is good with logistics; and who can make a decision in a crisis. Yes, unfortunately the “C” word does happen. Click here for information about hiring an in-home caregiver.

If your job is more predictable, then your options for childcare are broadened. Daycare and afterschool care can be terrific options. Click here for more complete information on childcare in the Resource Section.

Relationship: Create your village of support.  Don’t be bashful about asking for help. People will say no.  And that will be SOOO frustrating. You will struggle with the lack of understanding from many people (even family).  But you will also be pleasantly surprised with those people who respond with generous offers of help.  When help comes your way, say YES!  For more detailed information on relationships, click here.

You: Take care of yourself. And I can hear you laughing out loud. But taking care of YOU is essential for everyone. Make time to be with your friends. Even if it is inviting them over to your place for a glass of wine or a movie (no babysitting required) – make it happen. Make some time for exercise. This does not mean a gym membership. It means a 20 minute walk at lunch, a bike ride with your child, or a quick at-home yoga session in the morning. Congratulate yourself when you make time for exercise – no matter how brief.  You will feel accomplished and better.  And if you feel better…the world is better for everyone. Promise.  

Ask yourself the following key questions on a regular basis:

  • What are my goals and am I on track to achieve them in some form?

  • Do I feel empowered with choices to achieve my goals?

The answers to these questions should be “yes”.  But getting to yes is not always easy.  Think about your answers based on the contentment map.  The PRIMARY DILEMMA™ is about minimizing discontent and finding greater satisfaction in your situation.  Recognize that you have choices to change your world.  For more ideas about caring for You, click here.

Method Facts:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2000 there were 7.6 million single working moms and 2.2 million single working dads raising their children alone in the United States. And of the total 9.8 million single parent homes in this country, two million of them had at least one child under the age of 6.