…of child care and household bills
The latest labour force statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics form the last census say that in June 2012, there were 641 thousand one parent families with dependants, and most (84%) were single mother families.
In half (50%) of one-parent families with dependents, the age of the youngest child was between 0 and 9 years old. Managing home and work life with young children is physically, emotionally and financially hard enough hard enough if you’re in a relationship with a supportive partner. Imagine what it’s like on a daily basis when you’re completely on your own.
So it’s not surprising that many single mums are teaming up with likeminded single parents to share the load of household bills, chores and child care.
If you Google “single parent required for house share” you get a whole raft of Gumtree ads; house share sites; mums forums; single parent forums and general accommodation sites, all with the same thread: Single parents (mainly, but not exclusively mums) looking for similar lone parents to share the burden of household duties, bills and rent.
The cost of living is increasing, everywhere. Australia has a particularly high cost of living and both sales and rental prices for property are sky high. For many dual income families, the cost of property is almost impossible, so it’s even more untenable when you’re suddenly having to cover it all yourself and not between you and a partner.
The fact is that you can get a much nicer place if you double your budget and buddy up with someone else, but it’s not that easy when you’re a single parent with one or more small children in tow.
Many women have friends they can do this with, but if you’re new to a city or area and don’t have any friends in a similar situation to you, then you have to put yourself out there.
Not all mums have support, financially or otherwise, from their former partner, or from their family. They need help paying the bills; they’d like a bit of friendship, support and company for both themselves and their child. There are some dads, but generally speaking they only have their kids at the weekends but are happy to muck in at other times.
Sydney based Sophie Andrews suddenly found herself and her two-year-old daughter in an accommodation dilemma when she split from her partner.
A close friend had also separated from her partner at the same time and the two friends found themselves living in rental properties that neither could afford.
The only alternative either of us could afford individually was a tiny 2-bedroom apartment. So they joined forces and were able to rent a huge 4-bedroom house with a lovely garden. The rent split between them was $100 a week less than if they had each moved into that tiny flat separately!
“By pooling our resources, we could not only afford to live in a house that was way beyond our means individually, but there were other benefits which contributed hugely to improving those first couple of years of separation”, Says Andrews.
Sophie recognised that having a friend in a similar situation was very lucky, but that most women were not in such a fortunate position. She founded SPACE4.com.au, a website dedicated to providing single parents with alternative living arrangements and childcare assistance at what is usually a very lonely and financially difficult time.
SPACE4 has been running for seven years and is Australia’s leading single parent site for house share, friendship, holiday share & childcare exchange. It offers an online database of single parents, looking to either share a house with another single parent, or to contact other one-parent families in their area with a view to sharing childcare and babysitting duties.
Members simply go through potential member matches by searching the profiles and contacting any prospective parents by email. It’s a great way to look in a secure environment where everyone is looking for the same thing.
Regardless of circumstances, it’s good to know you’re not alone. There are thousands of other single parents out there in the same position as you.
For more information on your child care options and benefits available to single parents, click here to see our article, and for information on single parent accommodation and lots of other issues, go to:
Written and published for CareforKids.com.au http://www.careforkids.com.au/newsletter/2014/october/8/share.html