what should I be planning for professionally as a single parent?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers.” A reader writes:

I’m going to try to start getting pregnant soon and unless I meet the woman of my dreams tomorrow, it’s likely that I’ll be a single mom when baby is born. I live in California which has a bit of maternity leave. I’m looking for pointers on work as a single mom, ideas about whether I should stay at my current job for this or look elsewhere and so forth.

At my current job, most of the team I work with is great, the work environment and the rest of the people at work are mostly good, the work is interesting, I have my own office (not common for someone in my job position), I get to do some training, my pay including bonus is about mid-range for the area for someone with my job title, work will do the minimum required by California law for maternity leave but is also generally more than flexible about doctor’s appointments and the like, the commute is about 25 minutes in but the same or double on the way home, I have an excellent reputation in our local office as well as the other satellite location and the corporate office.

Also, my boss is amazing. She is hands down the best boss I’ve had in my entire career. Not only is she skilled in doing the work, but she is an excellent manager who is invested in my personal growth, has my back, a great sense of humor, etc., etc., etc., and who I am learning a ton from. She was a single mom for a while and has shown a lot of support to a person on the team recently who has been dealing with some single mom challenges. There are of course some issues at work, but there are issues everywhere and overall I would say they’re smaller issues than most places I’ve worked.

I am an accountant who is nearly a CPA (just waiting for my license to be processed!) who interviews well, has a well-connected recruiter who would be happy to find a new place for me, does work that is more complex than most accountants with my title, and lives in an area where there is currently a shortage of accountants. It probably would not be hard for me to find a new job, and likely one that is downtown where I live instead of in the ‘burbs.

There is a lot I don’t know, though! What will I want from a job as a single parent? I’ve got a bit of flexibility, a supportive boss, and probably will be able to pump in my office. Is this enough? Will I stop valuing the complex and interesting work I’m doing because I’m too tired? Because daycare is so expensive, will I want to try and make sure I’m on the high end of the pay scale? (Budget says it’s doable if a touch tight on my current pay). What else should I be taking into consideration and what should I do now to make the work part of my single-parenthood as good as possible?

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 370 comments… read them below }

  1. Justme, The OG*

    First of all, best of luck to you in your journey into parenthood!

    My kid is 10 now, so my needs/wants are only a supportive environment (which includes flexible scheduling and an understanding boss). It’s what has kept me here even though my pay is low. Having a good boss and coworkers goes SO FAR into my satisfaction with my job.

    You may for a time want less complex work. But don’t give it up entirely because you’re going to be sleep deprived.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      You may also want to ask for a day to wfh. You’d still need care for the kid, but one day without the commute will make a big difference.

      My main thing was not to get sucked into other people’s expectations – what do *you* need to be satisfied? What do you need to be happy? A 1yr bday party isn’t for the kid, it’s for the adults – will it make *you* happy? A higher paid job with a less interesting manager and less interesting work – will you be satisfied?

      I like the sound of your manager, it might be worthwhile to stick with her for at least a couple of years. I think a good manager can sometimes help you do what makes you happy.

      1. newmom*

        I do all the laundry on my WFH day. It’s awesome. Maybe takes 1/2hr total (I make a pile and it gets folded later) to load and unload the 4 weekly loads, which is easy to make up without the commute (daycare is close to home, not work).
        A+, highly recommend WFH day for laundry. I had no idea how much laundry a baby/toddler could create.

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      And speaking of sleep deprivation and less complex work…as a pending CPA (congrats!!), if you get pregnant soon you may well be coming back to work at the most ridiculously hectic time of year for accountants. Keep that in mind when you consider whether you’ll take extra unpaid leave, etc…I don’t work in finance, but I feel like sleep deprivation + coming back from time off + single parent responsibilities + tax season could lead to some errors you would never make ordinarily and will certainly incur some major stress.

      Best of luck with these big next steps into parenthood and CPAhood! I hope that even if you don’t have a partner, you have a good support network who will help lessen the work of early parenthood. Hope to hear a good update next year sometime!

  2. MuseumChick*

    I am not a parent but based on things my parent friends have said, I would advice doing a lot of research into child care costs, and the daycare schedules (are they open during the holidays? What is there policy on sick kids at daycare?) and what you will do when your child cannot be in daycare (have a few back up plans if possible).

    Based on the letter form this website, pay attention to your office culture around children. Is it a “Yes bring the baby in as often as possible for us to see her!” Or a “Children are NOT to be here at anytime.” office? Likely it is somewhere in between you just want to make sure you are not out of step with your office culture.

    Sounds like there are a lot of positives at this job. Good luck with everything!

    1. Zahra*

      Nitty gritty on the daycare schedule: What time does the daycare close? What time do you have to leave to get there by then? What time do you have to get to work to work X hours and be on time at day care for pick up? What time do you need to drop off your baby in order to be at work at that time?

      Daycare closes at 6PM
      I need to leave by 5:15
      I work 8 hours
      I need to arrive by 8:45 (if I only take 30 minutes for lunch)
      I need to drop my kid at 8.

      Daycare opens at 7, so I’m good. I could drop him off earlier and have a longer lunch or leave a bit early.

      1. irene adler*

        You’ll probably never have to deal with this, but it’s good to know the answers beforehand:

        What are the consequences of a late pick-up of the kid? Do you incur extra costs? Will the day-care no longer take your kid if this happens too often?

        And in the unlikely event of a couple of hours of OT, what’s the plan? Will the day-care accommodate? What’s Plan B for this occurrence?

        1. Ophelia*

          Exactly. Even as a 2-parent household, we also have a stable of friends and babysitters who can step in as needed–for example if a commute runs late, we pick up each other’s kids.

          I would also make very sure to take a look not at “average daycare costs” in your area, but at the actual full-day daycare costs near your office/home (FWIW, it’s often easier to do daycare closer to the office than to home, but that’s a personal choice), including whatever “extra” time you need to cover your workday. For example, our daycare is $1600/month, but that is for 8:30-3:30. It’s another $45 or so per day to have kids stay until 6, and that adds up.

          1. Working Single Mom*

            I’ll chime in here and say that having daycare near the office rather than near home is my strong personal preference, too. It gives a *lot* more flexibility around hours (since you don’t need to factor in most of your commute), lets you possibly pop over on your lunch break for fun events like Halloween parades, and will make it easier in the event of emergency pick-ups for illness or appointments. The only time I found it annoying was on the rare days when I didn’t have to work but did still want childcare, such as when I was sick. Another personal preference, but I also preferred daycare centers over in-home placements, simply because they closed less often.

            Also, your current work place sounds ideal, honestly. Supportive and empathetic bosses for the specific issues of single parenting are both rare and valuable, and it sounds like you have one. I also really, REALLY valued having complex, adult things to handle during my work hours when my daughter was an infant: being alone with a baby most of the time can be emotionally and intellectually draining, as rewarding as it can also be, so I was so grateful for something that made me feel like myself rather than just a Mom.

            One more: pumping is a nightmare. I don’t say this to scare you off, but because I wasn’t emotionally prepared for it myself and I think I’d have lasted with it much longer if I was ready for it. Again, your mileage will definitely vary, but it made me feel like a cow being milked and was pretty depersonalizing. It took a pretty long time, too, and whomever came up with the phrase “never cry over spilled milk” was definitely not thinking about expressed milk. Come up with a plan for how you’re going to make this work for you, and I think you’ll have more success. My daughter’s daycare provided formula for free, so after at about 4 months I stopped pumping and did breast feedings at home and formula feedings at daycare until she was about a year, which ended up being a good balance for our needs.

            Good luck! Being the sole primary provider for an infant while working full time is really, really, hard, but also super-rewarding in the end. The first 3 months are the hardest, and it will get easier. My daughter is 6 now, and thriving, and we have a great, close relationship. You can do it!

            1. InfoSec SemiPro*

              Cosign pumping as a nightmare. Baby SemiPro and I never got breastfeeding down and the constant pumping was a living hell. I ended up having a breakdown at 6 weeks and switching entirely to formula. Feed the baby, do what works for you.

              My math ended up with sane, happy mom holding baby beats out miserable absent mom hooked to a machine all of the time.

              1. Bobbin Ufgood*

                Concur — pumping sucks, literally. Takes so much time and energy. I’m not a single mom, so I don’t know what you’re going thorough, however, my job when I was breastfeeding had more than full time hours (60+/week and at least once a month I worked 14 days straight, some of which were 12 hour days) and I had a very short maternity leave. All I did when I was breastfeeding was pump, wash pump parts, store milk, work, breastfeed and sleep (some — you do sleep some). Having a private office will make it easier, but doing some formula feeding is a great thought to consider to get something off of your plate.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  Part time breast feeding works, the body adapts to it just fine. (be aware, however, that any baby’s cry will make you fountain like Vesuvius even on the off hours).

            2. Sarah*

              Fed is best. If breastfeeding and/or pumping becomes too much, it is okay to use formula. No one asks what I ate as a baby (formula, btw). I pumped but when I returned to work I tapered off. You can do it!!

            3. K Tolva*

              FWIW I didn’t really mind pumping–in some ways it was easier than feeding directly, because my kid would take FOR EV ER and latch permanently if I’d let him, while when I was pumping I could easily tell if anything was still coming out or not. The pumping facilities at my work were nice, and I could laptop and do work while I was pumping without any issues. But this is *extremely* YMMV–not everyone’s work is compatible with being alone in a closet-sized room, and some people find they can’t let down if they’re thinking about work.

              Pumping while at home / trying to care for a newborn with all this plastic tubing attached to you though? That was pure hell, F minus, would not do again. :P (I was told to do this to boost supply; it did not work at all and we wound up giving him a bottle of formula a day anyway.)

            4. Quackeen*

              Just like breastfeeding—and really, everything to do with parenting—your pumping miles may vary. I had no issue at all with it, and was even forced to do it in my car because I had a position where I did all outreach. Really, I was extremely lucky with it and basically produced enough milk to feed a small daycare.

              Not criticizing your comments, but providing an additional data point.

            5. agmat*

              Pumping isn’t a nightmare for everyone, although no matter what it has its downsides. I have no problem with the actual act of doing it and am either doing it WAH, in the car (easier than I thought it’d be), or at the main office’s lactation room. What I don’t like about it is that it takes up a lot of time that I can no longer mingle well with my coworkers. We can’t carpool (because I’m pumping) and when I’m in the office I can’t have an extended lunch with my coworkers. I really feel like I’m missing out on a lot of the team building time that is necessary after maternity leave. I feel sort of like a ghost.

              So, yes that’s all tied up with pumping, but not in the act itself.

            6. ThreeQuarter*

              I’ll cosign that pumping is a super hard adjustment. I HATED it my first four weeks back at work, but now twelve weeks in, it’s par for the course. I put one a podcast, knit a few rows on my current project and enjoy the short break. One of the most stressful things about it in the beginning is that I share my office and don’t have an expectation of privacy, so finding a consistent place to pump was a gamble. Now that that’s squared away, it’s much easier. Having my own office to pump in would be a huge benefit to me.

              Also, get a mini-fridge in your office. I store my pumping supplies in it, wipe them down with a quick clean wipe at the end of the day, and wash/sterilize them with a microwave bag on Monday morning. Not having to wash after each pump session is a huge time (and morale) saver.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Came here to say this! Some daycares charge an exorbitant fee for late pickups, and some have a three-strikes kind of policy for multiple late pickups.

          Childcare stuff requires backups for your backups for your backups.

          1. Obelia*

            +1. Just wanted to add to this, we don’t have as many backups as I’d like because we have no family nearby; but I became friends with another parent at the nursery and now we are each other’s emergency backup for commuting delays etc. Building your circle of parent friends can really help, it took me a little while but it’s made a big difference.

        3. I'm just here for the comments*

          As a plan B have you considered having an in-home provider (i.e nanny or babysitter)? You will still need to interview them and see if they are a good fit (as with daycare) but maybe having someone home with the baby will take the stress off of trying to get off of work in time to pick up the baby from daycare. Or they can pick up the baby from daycare and bring baby home and be contracted for an hour or two every evening (thus giving you a cushion of time). It will depend on your budget how much childcare you can afford. I went with a variety of childcare after I returned to work as neither my husband nor I have a regular work schedule that would allow for daycare hours. Also, don’t be afraid to try it one way and then have to change – over the past 6 years I have used a friend’s home daycare, then a different home daycare, various family members babysitting, then had 3 different sitters, and now I’m a stay-home parent. With a professional nanny you’ll have to sign a contract and agree to terms, but even with “non-professional” babysitters having a regular schedule and wages will help attract a more dependable person (for reference, I became stay-home after my 3rd was born, all childcare was scheduled around my work schedule).

          1. Lemonwhirl*

            Absolutely on changing providers. It can be stressful, but if things aren’t working, then the stress of switching is typically less than the stress of stuff not working.

            Also, my only caveat about a nanny or a private babysitter – I’ve always seen that as a single-point-of-failure situation. So when my son was an infant and I did not have the flexibility to work from home too much (it was very frowned upon at that time in my org), I went with a day care that was 2/3 of the way to my work. I’m not a single parent, but we have no family nearby, so when things go sideways, it’s usually my problem. I was worried about a babysitter or nanny getting sick and then us being stuck for child care.

            But when my son was old enough to go a preschool that was near our house, I was able to negotiate working from home more and found a local babysitter to cover the hours that he was not in preschool. I was more comfortable then with a single point of failure because almost 1/2 the childcare was covered by preschool so the failure wasn’t as catastrophic. (And luckily, the babysitter was nearly never sick.)

            1. Quackeen*

              We had to change a couple of times; once when we moved to a different part of the state and once when our home daycare provider wasn’t really working out.

              One thing I considered, as I had a friend who actually did this as her job, is hiring a mom with a young child to be your provider. My friend was able to bring her baby to work and the child she cared for was a few years older, so it wasn’t a situation of juggling 2 infants. Yes, you need to consider experience (you don’t want someone whose only motivation is that they can bring their baby; my friend actually has an MEd in early childhood ed, making her a very attractive candidate) and reliability and all the other things, but you can probably negotiate a lower rate in exchange for allowing the sitter to bring her child, and the socialization aspect is nice.

              Also, I’m using female pronouns because I’m talking specifically about my friend, but don’t overlook male nannies! We had some absolutely fantastic male sitters in our lives.

              1. Lavender Menace*

                My mother used to do this. Childcare for three small children would’ve been far too expensive for my family, so she did daycare out of the house – she usually took in 1-2 other kids at a time for extra money.

          2. Ophelia*

            Also, depending on your location, consider a nanny-share, where one sitter takes care of your baby and another family’s. Usually, the sitter makes a few extra dollars per hour, but each family pays half the total, and it works out to be similar in cost to daycare (IME), with a bit more flexibility. This is probably easier in a city where there’s enough density to find someone nearby with similar needs.

      2. wandering_beagle*

        Also, is the day care closed for certain breaks in the year? Some places are kind of in line with public schools and are closed for Christmas week, etc. We do an in-home day care and they have 2 weeks of vacation built into their contract, so are closed 2 weeks in the summer. Just another thing to be aware of, and either plan to take PTO (if you are lucky to have it) or have back up!

        1. School Inclusion Specialist*

          Yes! Definitely check this out. I have a friend whose daycare is closed for more days than she has off and, for whatever reason, she still has to pay for those days. So she has to take time off unpaid (she’s hourly) AND pay for that day of child care.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Our children went to a wonderful, small, in-home provider, and she took two weeks of paid vacation off each year (but never left us hanging unexpectedly). We looked at it as very similar to the paid vacation we receive from our employers, except we get more than two PTO per year and didn’t have to change anyone’s diapers. :)

        2. R.D.*

          Yes. This can very so much and really impacts your costs

          For the first 5 years we went with a center. They were only closed on the main federal holidays, Labor day, July 4th, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving & the day after, Christmas, New Years. We also got 2 weeks vacation, where we could pay 50% of tuition those weeks and keep our spot. They did charge $5 per minute for every minute you were late. We were only late once. By my clock it was 3 minutes, but they rounded that up to 5 and mind you, they met me in the parking lot, so it’s not like they spent any additional time closing up after we left.

          A friend used a licensed in home provider. They had to pay tuition for the 2 weeks a year she took vacation and then had to find back up care or take vacation themselves those same 2 weeks. But she was much more flexible with pick ups and drop offs than ours.

          Now we are using the preschool at the elementary school. This means they are closed every time the school is closed, which totally sucks. Also fun is that most places that provide school day off camps only provide them for school aged kids, so we are limited in our choices for the preschooler. But we aren’t rolling with 2 different pick up and drop off locations.

          More important than your commute to work is the commute time to your daycare.

          1. R.D.*

            The only bonus about the preschool at the elementary school is that we never pay for days we aren’t there as long as we tell them a week out. So you pay for sick days, but not vacation.

            1. Anne of Green Gables*

              Yes, commute time to & from daycare matters. Someone up thread mentioned using a daycare closer to work than home, which is a good option for some. We considered this but opted for closer to home. We are in a center that is very rarely closed. When we have a holiday and daycare is still open, we still take the child–we’re paying anyway. Sometimes I use that time for errands, sometimes for date day (we’re a 2-parent household) and sometimes for nothing at all. It’s also convenient to have daycare close to home on the instances when we are sick and child is healthy–shorter drive to drop him off and then back home to rest.

              1. Samwise*

                Yes, the advantage of a center that’s open most of the year is that…it’s open. If a teacher is out, they don’t close, they have subs. Also, you can often hire the teachers or aides for baby-sitting — they’re already vetted, they have CPR training and so forth, they have a relationship with you and your child, they want to do a good job babysitting because if you’re not happy it’s going to get back to their boss.

                In fact, we had our child in a daycare that closed at the start of summer (bookkeeper embezzled, they went bankrupt), were able to arrange a new daycare for the fall, got together with a couple of other families to hire one of the teachers to take care of our kids for the summer. We all just paid the tuition we would have paid anyway — the teacher made waaaaay more than he would have if he’d still had a job at that center. (The kids were all 4 — they still have fond memories of that summer)

                1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                  I definitely agree about the having daycare teachers babysit! It’s such a comforting feeling to leave my daughter with her beloved teacher for a night out and know that she’s happy and with someone who makes her feel comfortable.

                2. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

                  My little sister has her masters in early childhood ed and when she worked at a daycare she often babysat on the side for some of the families, especially during breaks — it worked out great for both because my sis needed the extra income and they had a pre-vetted, familiar certified provider. One family got her a fruit basket once because she could get their kid to accept food (*she is the toddler whisperer).

                3. bonkerballs*

                  Chiming in to say, know your center when it comes to teacher’s babysitting. That was 100% not allowed and a fire-able offense at the preschool I worked at.

      3. Kyrielle*

        How long is the waiting list for the daycare(s) you are considering, and how old does the baby have to be before they can start.

      4. Guacamole Bob*

        This, but try hard to build in a buffer. Worrying every single day about whether you’ll get to daycare in time for pickup is a huge drain – traffic, leaving meetings mid-way through, calling around to find backup pickup options when something goes wrong, paying late fees, etc. If you can, try to schedule things so that you usually get there a while (half an hour?) before daycare closes so it’s no big deal if someone wants to ask you a quick question on your way out the door in the afternoon and your stress doesn’t spike when you see brake lights stacked up on the commute or a minor train delay. That breathing room will add a lot of peace of mind, I promise.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Also look into daycare near your office vs near your home. Traffic slow downs matter a lot less for the former.

      (I’ll also note that I got motivated to move out of the city after I had a kid, so that “playing outside” could mean walking out the door into the yard rather than loading up the stroller, carrying it down a flight of stairs, and walking a few blocks.)

      If you like where you live now, and you have a supportive and flexible boss, I would lean toward keeping both of those as they are and seeing how they mesh with the baby. Time has a way of shifting your priorities around even without a baby in the mix. I personally would lean toward moving close to your supportive job to minimize commute, but that’s me. (We bought a house near my husband’s job only for the company to move. Right now the plan is to move near company’s current location when youngest leaves nest; before that staying in the school system where kids were happy and established was the more important criterion.)

      1. booksnbooks*

        Definitely stay at the supportive place through the pregnancy and new baby craziness. Having a great, supportive, understanding boss is so, so, so important.

        1. Clever Alias*

          And you’ve already established a reputation. You shouldn’t coast on it, but your boss will be far more likely to overlook minor sleep deprived slip ups when you’ve got a history of great performance.

    3. Just following along*

      Make sure you have a backup day care place/person! Ideally that would include a backup to your backup.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        +1 for a backup for your backup. And maybe a couple of backups beyond that. It’s about peace of mind as much as anything. Pro tip: get a few extra car seats that you can give your backups. I can’t tell you how many times carseat shenanigans have wrecked my plan B. (There are many strong opinions out there about used car seats. My personal opinion is that a hand-me-down carseat from a friend is a beautiful thing.)

        1. R.D.*

          True. Also, when the kids were little, we left the car seat at the daycare, so that anyone could pick them up. That creates a space issue for the daycare, so check on that.

          1. KS*

            This is a huge bonus in a daycare. Ours doesn’t allow us to store car seats or strollers, which really limits our on-the-fly options.

            1. Anne of Green Gables*

              This is not helpful until they are older, but there is something called a Ride Safer vest that is essentially a harness that hooks into the seat belt of a car and makes the seat belt go around safe parts of the child as an alternative to a car seat. It is significantly more portable than a car seat–could easily fit in a small backpack. When my MIL inquired about getting a car seat for her car, we bought her the Ride Safer instead. She keeps it so she has it whenever she needs to transport our son, but we borrow it when we’re flying somewhere. It is safe to use at 30 pounds, which is typically about 3 years old. It’s legal; there are good FAQs on their website.

        2. Zephy*

          NB: not a parent, but seems like everyone on my Facebook feed is

          Most of the discussion around used car seats that I’ve seen deals with car seats that have been through auto accidents; from what I could glean, these days car seats have components that are meant to fail before your baby does, and thus reusing a car seat that has already been through one crash is a risk because it no longer has that sacrificial part intact, or something along those lines. If you’re picking up a car seat at the Goodwill and don’t know its provenance, that’s maybe not the safest thing for your baby. But inheriting a perfectly-good car seat from your friend whose baby has just outgrown their seat, and who you know for a fact has not been in any accidents with the baby in the car? That’s fine, the seat is still good.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Some places (like Target) will take an old or expired car seat as a trade-in and give a discount on a new one, so even if it’s been in an accident or has passed its expiration date, it still has some value!

          2. Celeste*

            I’m not sure that anyone takes the risk of selling car seats, so the real market is people who are done with them. Be sure to check the expiration date on it, as plastics break down in hot/cold cars over time. Also be sure to research the height and weight limits on any model you’re going to buy; they vary. If you have a taller child, you will go through car seats faster.

    4. Former Help Desk Peon*

      On the daycare theme – decide where you want your daycare to be located; near home? near office? We decided near home, because that’s less time in car for baby, plus we can take him there easily if we happen to work from home, or we’re sick and he’s not. However, there’s a drawback in that his doctor’s office is near where we work, so I end up driving into work for half day, home to pick up bub, back almost all the way to work for doctor, then back home.

      Also, check what the wait list is like, how much of a deposit they want, and whether it’s at all refundable.

      And plan on taking more sick days in the first 6 months of daycare than you’ve ever taken in your life (unless you work with little kids yourself and have been exposed already). I thought I had a good immune system, but my god, having a kid taught me better.

      1. R.D.*

        The sick days are important. The first 12 months that my older child was in daycare I used all 5 weeks of PTO on sick days for her or for me, and that is not counting the days my husband took when she was sick. She tended to spit up a lot and the daycare had a bit of a hair trigger on stomach flu symptoms.

        Fortunately, my younger child did not have that many sick days all in the firs year, but my daughter has now taken 3 sick days since her second birthday and my son, who will be 5 in about a week, is only in the past year gotten a true immune system.

        1. R.D.*

          Also, the most important part of flexibility, to me, is being able to work from home. Now I don’t miss much work for being sick, I just work from home while sick. The down side is I think you get better faster if you sleep, but I’d rather save my sick time for when I really need it.

          Usually if the kids are sick, they just nap and watch TV all day, so I can work from home those days too. Sometimes they are so sick that they actually need my attention, and sometimes they aren’t quite sick enough so they are bored and annoying.

          That doesn’t work as well with a sick baby, unless they sleep the whole time, but from about age 2 on, I’ve been able to pull it off. When they were little I would work in the living room while they laze on the couch. Now that they are bigger, and don’t play with sockets or put things in their mouth and can find their coloring books or turn on the TV, I can actually work in the home office with the door open. I do take breaks to dispense meds, feed lunch, clean up vomit, or go to the doctor, which I deduct. Some days I work 6 hours, some I work 8 over the course of 9 or 10, and some I work 2-4, but it’s still better than having to miss a full day of work.

        2. Former Help Desk Peon*

          Yeah, I used every scrap of PTO – we didn’t take a real vacation for the first 2 years, really. But my son is 5 and has only missed one day of kindergarten due to sickness!

          My daycare was fairly reasonable on the puke issue – they’d only call for 2 or more “events” in the same day, and only if there were other signs like temp, crankiness, lack of appetite, etc OR the kid is older and can be expected not to routinely spit up.

        3. newmom*

          And the whole “breastfeeding protects against illness” thing is likely much, much less true of the baby is getting exposed to germs first.

          1. Honoria Glossop*

            When my children were breastfeeding, an older woman who was an IBCLC told me to kiss their hands when I picked them up from daycare. That way, my body would be exposed to the same germs they were and could start working to protect them sooner.

            It’s also worth pointing out that the immunological effects of breastfeeding are strongest when Baby is actually nursing at the breast frequently, more so than an exclusively pumping/human milk feeding situation.

            1. Lavender Menace*

              Why would that be? The immune system effects of breastfeeding have to do with antibodies a nursing parent passes on to their baby.

      2. Not in US*

        Find out if they will administer over the counter medication (or actual prescription meds – although in my experience the over the counter was a more common issue. ) things like Tylenol or Advil. My oldest ran a high fever every time he was teething – it was horrible. With the next kid I made sure to use a daycare that would administer children’s Tylenol or Advil.

        You will be very sick, often the first year. Where your child might be sick vomiting for a day or a few hours – you might get it for 2 or 3 days easy.

        1. Former Help Desk Peon*

          OMG – they wouldn’t give motrin? Yeah, that’d be a deal breaker for me. My DC would even do nebulizer treatments (though we never asked them to, dragging it back and forth wasn’t worth it to us).

          My DC was/is a little unreasonable on pink eye though. After the 3-4 time, I was pretty good at picking out viral from bacterial, but they still required either a dr. note or a prescription EVERY time. I racked up quite a few hours and copays at our local urgent care :-/

          1. R.D.*

            Finding a flexible pediatrician is key.

            Our pediatrician would prescribe antibiotics for pink eye over the phone once the parents had dealt with it a couple of times. They would also respond to email requests to fax notes to daycare.

            Check and see if your insurance will cover virtual visits. There are some services where you can video conference with a doctor. That was key when our son had a mild allergic reaction on his 3nd birthday after dinner. He was clearly in no distress, but had a rash. The doctor on the video call called in a prescription antihistamine to the local Walgreen’s. I ran out and got it and we had him treated and back into bed by 8:30. If we’d had to go to urgent care, it probably would have taken several hours and we would have had issues getting up for work the next day.

          2. Not in US*

            No they would not – institutional centre and it’s actually way more common in my area for centres to not administer over the counter medicine. They also often close at 5:30 which is crazy. I didn’t even know to ask about administering over the counter medicine with my first – why would I? We dealt with it by loading the child up with medicine in the morning when we knew he was teething and praying it lasted all day. SO Happy I’m done with all that! And the pink eye thing – most daycare providers here do not understand that drugs are not always appropriate for pink eye. Government regulations state that the child has to be on medication for a full day or clear of it to return and there are no exceptions to the practice…

    5. JR*

      Agreed on daycare closer to work often being easier (and in your case maybe cheaper), especially so you don’t have to worry about traffic making you late for pickup. (Unless you have a car-hating baby. I had one of those. In that case, good luck!!) But one thing I want to flag, especially for a single parent – there may be times you want to take a vacation day and still take the baby to daycare. That’s obviously much less convenient if the daycare is half an hour from your house.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to this. Might be worthwhile to look into a 2-day care solution, one for most ‘work from office’ days and one for ‘work from home / not working but need a break’ days.

      2. Green Great Dragon*

        Also, the time you spend commuting without the your child may be the only time you have to yourself that’s not spent doing housework. Consider how much your own music/podcast and a guaranteed break from questions in the car rather than incessant nursery rhymes might mean to you once they’re two. Public transport is even better.

      3. Samwise*

        Start looking into pediatricians, also. Again, do you want one near work or near home? Do they have a nurse phone line to answer questions at 2 am? Do they have urgent care hours? For instance, our pediatrician had Saturday hours and one hour at the start of each weekday solely for urgent-care appointments — the appointment was made by the nurse on the nurse phone-line.

        Think about the pros/cons of a large practice or a single practitioner office. If you go with a larger practice you will likely see “your” doctor for well-child visits but at other times you might get a doctor you haven’t worked with. But with a larger practice you can probably get in more quickly for emergent issues. And if you have a kid with a serious illness, you’re going to get to know all of the doctors.

        Find out which hospital the pediatrician/s have privileges at. If you can find a reasonably nearby hospital that has a children’s ER, that is golden. Less scary for your kid while waiting in the ER, and they’re generally nicer all around. (Peds all the way, my friend — my child is now over 18, but because he has a pediatric illness he’s been able to continue to use children’s hospitals for various services, labs, treatments — none of the not-my-job you can get in adult medicine.)

    6. K Tolva*

      Also on daycare: in urban areas, there’s often a waitlist for quality daycare that may take months to get off. We were on a waitlist for *TWO YEARS* for our local daycare before we finally got a (part-time!) spot. If I’d had my ish together I would’ve put us on the waitlist when I was still pregnant…

      Finding a nanny has much less lead time involved, but there’s a ton of work around advertising, finding candidates, calling references, seeing if they’re a match for you and your kid, etc etc. And if the nanny is sick or on vacation there’s no backup. So, tradeoffs. :P

      1. bonkerballs*

        Depending on your area, day care waitlists are crazy. I live in a big city that absolutely does not have enough day cares/preschools to meet the needs of the city. I left the preschool I used to work at about a year ago (a pretty small school) and at the time our infant room which could only had 8 full time spots had a wait list of roughly 60 pregnant moms on it.

  3. jb*

    As a CPA (male, in a 2-parent household):

    You will want flexible childcare options. While you can get jobs, or arrange existing jobs, that will let you arrive and leave at the same time without change, you will also often be in a situation where something comes up at 4:50 that could be handled in a half an hour right now but would be substantially more annoying and time-consuming if you waited even until your kid is asleep that evening. It’d be very helpful if you had the flexibility to stay that extra half hour with little notice.

    Also, there are fewer good CPAs than there is demand for them, so chances are you’ll find workplaces that are willing to be very reasonable and flexible in order to keep you (you will also find those that aren’t, but if you do end up in that situation know that there is greener grass somewhere else).

    1. FishFed*

      What worked best for me (female, 2-parent household) was to set my schedule to the earliest drop-off time and have my standard pick up time to be well before our daycare provider closed. For example, my (amazing, wonderful, gift from the heavens) daycare provider was open from 7a-5:30p. Working 8.5 hours, with a 30-min commute, meant that my work hours were 7:30-4 and my pick up was at 4:30. If I was running a little late for pick up, it wasn’t an issue because it wasn’t anywhere near the end of the daycare day.

    2. Erin*

      I want to second this comment re: good CPAs being in short supply. I’m a CPA and I think you picked an excellent career for a single parent because you will have so many options. If you are competent and have a good personality, you will get jobs thrown at you. I call my license an insurance policy because demand for a good CPA is just so high.

  4. R*

    Check the rules in CA around maternity leave if you have been in your position less than a year. I also think being able to pump at work is a right, not a privilege, but again, check the rules in CA. The main thing you want to think about is do you *like* your job. Because it will be hard to leave your baby and return to work. It’s a lot easier if you like your job. Also, consider daycare costs. If you are commuting into the burbs, you may get cheaper child care near your place of work as downtown places are frequently more expensive. And it might help if baby is somewhere near work, so in the event of an emergency you can get to them quickly.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Excellent point on the childcare location! In addition to the emergency situations, the closer your childcare is to work the more flexibile you can be on start and leave times since the bulk of the commute is after you pickup or before you drop off. It is so much easier as a working parent to not have to wonder how that extra 10-15 minutes will affect your commute and will that cause a problem getting to daycare on time.

      1. Overeducated*

        On the other hand, if you have a sizable commute, that time becomes part of your baby’s commute as well, and you basically won’t have the option to work from home in general or for plumber appointments, etc., if you have to commute all the way to work for day care.

    2. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      For those reading: “Effective March 23, 2010, this US federal law requires employers to provide break time and a place for most hourly wage-earning and salaried employees (nonexempt workers) to express breast milk at work. The law states that employers must provide a “reasonable” amount of time and that they must provide a private space other than a bathroom. They are required to provide this until the employee’s baby turns one year old.”
      Employer of less than 50 can apply for an exemption if they prove “undue hardship.” Even then, most of the time they will be required to make as much provision for pumping as they can.
      Law: Break Time for Nursing Mothers , this provision was passed as Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),

      1. fposte*

        It’s worth clarifying that that US federal law only applies to *non-exempt* employees. Federally, exempt women do not have pumping protections. Fortunately, the OP is in California, which extends pumping protections to everybody. (Wow, my fingers really want to type “pumpkin” instead of “pumping.”)

    3. Frankie*

      Yep. This is my struggle as a new parent. I love my job and if it was just okay, or if I thought I could easily get a similar job later, I probably would quit just to see my baby more, even if financially it would kind of screw us for a year or two, and even if I’d miss the work.

      Working part time for a month was great–I worked, and still had time with my baby. Now that I’m back to five days a week it feels really hard by Thursday. I really enjoy my work and my team but I never get to see my baby and it all feels really stupid at the end of the day.

      So you want a job that feels worth your time, not just one that will accommodate your new parenting logistics. Because you really can’t not work, and once you’re back in it you might really, really miss your kid.

    4. Triumphant Fox*

      Pumping at work info:
      The place where you pump cannot be a restroom. It needs to be a place where you can be private and lock the door. In your case, it will likely just be your office, which should have a lock and the door should provide privacy (frosted glass, etc).
      You’ll want a system for milk storage. I don’t have a problem storing it in our executive fridge, because it’s kept pretty clean and I just stick it in my own cooler in there. But think about how and where you will clean the pump parts (you will do this so often!). I have a small Boon bottle dryer at work and wash everything in a colander and my own bowl because sinks are nasty. I take all of that back to my desk to dry. If your public fridge is unsanitary, you may be able to get a mini fridge in your office, but there can be restrictions on those by the building. Keep milk bags at work (I like the cheap target brand. Hate Medela bags. Nuk and Lansinoh are good but more expensive), in the car and at home.
      Block out times on your calendar for pumping. Get people used to you being out for those times. Be firm that you can conference call and email but aren’t going to physically be present at those times (unless you find that you can’t work while pumping – some women have to really focus on their babies to express milk, if that’s you than you are just completely unavailable). DO NOT SKIP PUMPING SESSIONS. Your milk supply can go down so easily and it’s so tempting to just not pump.
      I really recommend Freemies. It makes it so much easier to work while you pump and is far more “hands free” and discrete than normal flanges. These also make pumping in the car much easier.
      I have a spectra pump at work that I keep there (If you can afford it, have two and don’t take one back and forth) and then a spectra S9 that is portable and I love. This travels with me pretty much everywhere just in case. Your insurance has to pay for a pump. I worked with Edgepark and they processed everything for me. I was able to get one pump without paying anything (another company required you to buy an overpriced bag or other accessory and I really just wanted free). Because I don’t transport my pump back and forth, I didn’t find it necessary to get a pump bag.

      1. Friday*

        On the washing pump parts – not necessary between pumps! Just put them in a clean gallon bag in the fridge (or freezer – always more room in the office freezer). Then clean and sterilize nightly. I also poured off anything I pumped right into milk bags and froze them at work. So no hassle with milk transference from bottle to bag at the end of the day (and bonus- helps a ton with lipase issues to freeze quickly).

        Pumped to 14 months with kid#1 and 13 with #2.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          That’s the only downside to Freemies – you do need to wash between uses because you aren’t supposed to put the parts in the fridge (the way it all works as an enclosed system means parts can start fitting poorly more quickly with the expansion and contraction of temps).

      2. WorkingMom*

        An “ask the reader” specifically on pumping at work would be helpful. I didn’t go into too many specifics in my other comment because the original writer hadn’t mentioned anything about pumping. But based on the conversations I’ve had with friends and coworkers, the information is really hard to come by, and anecdotes from one mom to another can really help to make a difference. For example, I did not wash my pumping parts – I kept them chilled with my milk. When I told a coworker about this (she was about eight months in), she nearly fell over as she thought about all of the time she spent washing each delicate little part three times a day.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            I’m not a mother, but I think this is a great idea! Not only for tips and tricks like that, but also what to expect/ask for in terms of a pumping space. At my company, we had an unprecedented swarm of office pregnancies last year, and I appreciated that our HR talked with the mothers to determine how best to outfit the nursing room. I wouldn’t have thought of things like needing a full-length mirror to make sure you’re all presentable before going back to work, or requesting a movable minidesk so that mothers could work on the couch on a laptop while pumping. Cheap fixes but, I imagine, really helpful.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          She does mention being able to pump in her office at the end. I agree that a post on pumping at work is super helpful. I found the book Work. Pump. Repeat. to be so good when I went back to work at 6 wks, in no way healed and without the usual mental bandwidth to learn something new.

        2. Anne of Green Gables*

          Great idea! I’d contribute to that.

          One thing that helped me while pumping at work–a book weight. I’m a librarian and I did a lot of professional reading while pumping (Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, etc–only time in my career I’ve been so up-to-date!) and would read the selections for that months’ teen book group and the book weight kept the book or magazine open and on the right page. (Also useful for reading on lunch breaks even when not pumping.)

        3. Bobbin Ufgood*

          I’d be happy to contribute! I have three kids, pumped one year for each, and have a REALLY long-hours job — I feel like I’ve been through the wars on this one

        4. newmom*

          Yes! I posted a while back in an open thread about pumping while interviewing. I asked for “2, 30 minute breaks in a private space.” I was scheduled for just 30 minute breaks that included walking between buildings. So it wasn’t going to be enough time to properly pump. Lots of folks commented to the effect of “If you asked for 30 minutes to pump, I would assume you thought to include travel time/etc.” Which floored me! And other folks seemed totally surprised that I would need 30 minutes to pump.

          So I think this info would also be helpful for folks who have no intention of ever pumping!

        5. Honoria Glossop*

          HIGHLY recommend Nancy Morbacher’s website and her book Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple. If you’re only going to read one book, read that one. She also has a 2 page summary of everything you need to consider when working and breastfeeding on her site.

      3. Samwise*

        And buy a quality pump. Do not skimp on this — do your research, talk to moms, and spend the money. I started with a cheaper one and gave it up after two impossible weeks.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          You will likely qualify for a free pump through your insurance–it was part of the original Affordable Care Act.

          1. Sal*

            My federal employee insurance literally only covered one pump that I already knew I hated (second baby). I ordered it anyway and it’s sitting in my basement and I ponied up the funds for a Spectra S1 (with the battery). Best $175 I ever spent to not be attached to an outlet.

            1. Honoria Glossop*

              FYI, Byram Healthcare, which is a medical supply provider, provides Freemies which are covered by insurance.

        2. NutellaNutterson*

          You can often rent a hospital grade pump, and some insurance plans will cover some/all of the cost.

    5. Scrumtrillescent*

      I considered using a child care facility closer to my work than to my home but I ended up ruling it out because once my kids started school, they would’ve had to change day cares. I wanted them to be able to establish relationships with other kids and have the security of their day care to help ease their fears of transitioning into “big school.”

      1. Robin Sparkles*

        Yes this is something I didnt see mentioned earlier. Choosing a day care close to work has many benefits but one close or in your hometown will give you the additional benefits of having the same kids attending kindergarten with your child when they are done with day care and preschool. I didn’t care about this at first but now that my daughter is going to enter kindergarten, it makes a big difference mentally to know that she will have 3-4 other kids that she already knows from daycare going with her.

      2. Former Help Desk Peon*

        Yeah, I considered mentioning this. It’s really long term planning for OP right now, but my son has been at the same DC from 11 weeks old and he now goes there for before/after kindie. He has several friends that he’s known that long, some of whom ride his bus to school; some he ONLY sees at daycare now. It’s a nice perk.

    6. KumquatOC*

      As someone who changed jobs while pregnant in CA: I was still eligible for the “disability” portion of my maternity leave without having to wait a year. So I was able to take off up to 4 weeks before the due date, and 6 weeks after the birth (would have been 8 if I’d had a C-section) at 55% pay. If I’d been there a year, I’d have been eligible for job protection under CFRA (California equivalent of FMLA) which gives you an additional 12 weeks after disability ends. Plus 6 extra weeks of half-pay.

      So what I did is I had to come back after 6 weeks on the dot because that was the longest my job was protected under pregnancy disability law. Then on my 1-year anniversary, I went out on leave again for 12 weeks, since I was still eligible for bonding leave as the new parent of a <1 year old. I was able to make this work because my husband could take leave to fill the gap, and I didn't have to search for daycare at that early date. It worked for us (and was better than returning to my hellish OldJob) but I certainly would have rather had the 18 weeks back to back.

    7. nonegiven*

      Aren’t CPAs usually exempt? Does CA have it’s own rules about pumping that includes exempt workers?

  5. anna green*

    Don’t start a new job while pregnant! I did that with my second and I count it as the worst career decision I ever made. All the good will I had at my old company for being a good worker for 6 years was gone. I had a difficult pregnancy with many doctors appointments and lots of exhaustion and my new company only knew me as that pregnant lady who isn’t really cutting it right now. And then when I came back from leave I still was exhausted and I feel like I never lost that stigma even after being there for 5 years. So if you don’t have to leave now, wait. Once you get settled with the baby, you can reassess.

    1. I agree*

      I totally agree with this. Even a good new job is stressful with new people, systems, etc, so if you are comfortable where you are, I’d try to stay until you get settled in with the baby. I nearly took a new job during my maternity leave with my second, but ended up taking a counter-offer to stay at my job. I was so glad I hadn’t started a new job when the day care germs swept through and baby and I were both sick off and on for 6 weeks. Maybe the new employer would have understood, but it wouldn’t have been the first impression I’d want to make. Good luck!

    2. Juli G.*

      I agree. Also, it took me a bit of time to ramp back up (although I was back after 6 weeks with my first and was barely healed and 8 with my second). It was nice to be a “known commodity” and use some of my good will to adjust, especially with my first!

    3. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Absolutely agree. There are a lot of different ways pregnancy can go, and you cannot predict them. With my second, I worked like a champ, pulled down tons of OT, did the work of ten women, right up to a few hours before I went into labor. It was easy, and I had a great pregnancy. With my other baby, I had one of those not-uncommon pregnancy issues (hyperemesis gravidarum), could only halfway function, and wound up leaving a job at a critical point in my career. I was never able to re-enter that field afterward.

      I am not trying to be one of those “pregnancy horror story” ladies – I would do it all again. But with my friends and relatives there has been a really, really wide range of how well people can function during pregnancy. Everything from having more energy than they’ve ever had before all the way on down to months on mandatory bed rest.

      1. New (working) mom*

        Agree! My pregnancy wasn’t horrible, but it was a little more difficult than expected and I had way more appointments than I anticipated. Being established in my job meant I had a good track record and everyone was more concerned about me and completely willing to be flexible, knowing that I’d figure out a way to get the work done (it also would have been a terrible time for me to be learning the ropes at a new job, honestly, and I didn’t even experience the “brain fog” people frequently get – I was just physically worn down).

        All pregnancies are different, but it’s safest to assume you’ll need some level of accommodation.

      2. Bobbin Ufgood*

        So much this! you never know what medical issues you’ll have — some women can do backbreaking labor until week 41, and other people are hospitalized for months. Good relationships ahead of time are critical

    4. currently pregnant with #2*

      Came here to say the same thing. Having already built up the goodwill and reputation as a solid worker is really invaluable. You’ll need to rely on that “banked” goodwill for the extra drs. appts, possibly lower work output due to fatigue during pregnancy and in the first year and additional sick days with a baby.

      Having your own office to actually pump in is HUGE. Yes, a good employer will have a lactation room of sorts, but it’s disruptive to the work day. If I had my own office, it’d be literally 5-10 minutes between set up and clean up and then I could work the rest of the time whereas having to GO to a different room means I’m hamstrung work-wise.

      I’ve heard other women talk about pregnancy/early childhood as a time when you aren’t going to “lean in”, but a time you’re going to hold on. Your life is going to change DRASTICALLY. Having stability with work as well as a supportive manager is going to be huge as you adjust to life as a parent. The fact that this manager also has a shared life experience of being a single parent is also something you can’t really put a value on! You can always look for a new job/negotiate more money when you and the little one are in a routine.

    5. DaffyDuck*

      I agree also! You have build up goodwill in your current job. I certainly wouldn’t change jobs now, especially as you know they are single-parent friendly!

    6. WorkingMom*

      I agree that it’s really to your benefit to stay put if you’re planning to get pregnant. From the impact pregnancy can have on your body to readjusting to work post-maternity leave, your current office will likely be more understanding than a new one, especially the way you described it. You mentioned that you have your own office – that is a HUGE luxury if you are planning to pump at all. My first time around I had a private office I could lock, and it was easy. My second time around, I had an office, but one wall was glass, and I had to come up with a creative way to block the view from the hallway (the building management would not let me put up blinds or curtains). It took me a few minutes to set up and take down each of the three times I pumped daily. It all adds up. Others in my unit weren’t as lucky, and had to go to a pumping room in the building next door. Again, all of the time added to pumping just adds up.

      Also, I agree that daycare is huge. Cost, location, and availability are all factors. One other thing – where is your pediatrician’s office? You don’t want it to be too far away from that, since you will likely be there frequently at the beginning. Also – what ages does the daycare serve? I lucked out and chose a daycare that goes all the way up through Pre-K, and anyone who’s been going there for a while is top on the list for Pre-K. I knew a ton of parents having a very tough time finding a Pre-K spot when the time came, and I lucked into not having to worry about it.

    7. Freed Lab Rat*

      I realize that your advice is practical and likely right… but can we all take a moment to appreciate how awful that statement is? Who would ever tell a man not to take a new job, to stall his career, if his wife were pregnant? I think nobody that’s who

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        But would you if he was about to have major surgery, or had a serious medical diagnosis he knew was going to take a toll on his body in the next few months? You might encourage him not to rock the boat and let things settle with his health before getting a new position.

      2. Thursday Next*

        Also, this is someone planning on being a single parent. If OP *had* met the woman of her dreams, no one would tell OP to hold off if her wife were pregnant.

        Pregnancy is a physical process, and can be unpredictable. It’s best not to undertake a job search during any unpredictable health situation.

      3. Yorick*

        I might if I thought it through. I mean, he could have to take more time off to go to his wife’s appointments, and he might be more tired than usual if he’s caring for his wife, which could affect his productivity.

        BUT I get your point. It probably wouldn’t hurt him much because the people at his new job would think of him as a hero if he were out all the time to take care of his pregnant wife.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I wish someone (other than me) had discouraged my husband from accepting a new job while I was pregnant. Granted his previous job was becoming toxic and I agreed he needed to get out, but the timing was such that he started the new job a week after I gave birth. That was almost 10 years ago and kind of a blur now, but I remember a pretty high level of resentment that he just continued on like life hadn’t totally changed for us.

          Fortunately, my company in general and managers/coworkers specifically were exceedingly flexible and accommodating for both my pregnancies and early child related situations so I was well positioned to cope whether or not I had a spouse/support at home. If you have that situation now and no significant downsides, don’t risk it on the unknown.

      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Actually, I would. Setting aside the very real thing that pregnancy is a physical issue and often unpredictable, if I had a guy friend whose wife was pregnant, I would advise him to be really discerning if he wanted to take a new job. A friend of mine did this but negotiated some really plum benefits (like paternity leave after only being there three months and a flexible schedule), and if the new company hadn’t come through, he would have stayed where he was.

      5. Clisby*

        I think plenty of people would advise that, unless the man had made it clear that he was taking no responsibility for the baby. Assuming, of course that he was working for a decent employer.

      6. Freed Lab Rat*

        sorry if my snark sounded like it was aimed at OP, I meant it just the opposite. As a society we make it so so hard to have a career and a family, and we often expect the women to pick up a significant part, if not all, of the burden. The most well researched studies (an interesting article here https://www.vox.com/2018/2/19/17018380/gender-wage-gap-childcare-penalty) into gendered income inequality point to the expectation that women do most of the child rearing or are single parents as one of the main causes leading to significant gaps in pay over time.

        I’m sure there are people who would tell this advice to a man, or to anyone experiencing any medical instability… but I’m frustrated having a family means large sacrifices… but usually only for women

        So I will take a moment to be frustrated that you even need to ask this question, even though, like I said, the advice here is clearly what needs to be done

      7. Anon pregnant lady*

        I think this advice also applies to men. I’m pregnant right now and both my husband and I made the choice to stay in our current jobs for exactly the reason above. We are both known quantities and are respected in our workplaces. We’re both going to take leave and may need some good will as we return sleep-deprived and not 100% to work. This also assumes that like the OP, you are reasonably happy in your job. If you’re in a terrible job or are being seriously underpaid, it may be worth looking for new jobs regardless of the pregnancy.

      8. MoopySwarpet*

        I would give the same (well, similar) advice to men who are expecting. A male co-worker’s infant got RSV and was in the hospital off and on (mostly on) for several months. We worked with him in a lot of ways (because we knew and trusted him) that we may not have been able to if he were a new employee. He worked really odd hours (and closer to part time than full) and we paid him his full salary for the entire time. We also were more forgiving of errors because it just was not his normal work pattern. I am sure we would have worked with even a new employee as far as keeping their job, but we might not have been so generous with pay and would have been peeved about picking up his slack.

    8. Molly*

      While I agree that starting a new job while pregnant could be challenging, I would argue that you shouldn’t rule out the idea completely. I started a new job shortly after returning from maternity leave at my previous job. In one way, the timing was horrible. I did not feel great about returning from maternity leave just to give two weeks notice. That said, the job I was taking was such a better fit for me and my new life as a mom – closer to home and daycare, more flexibility, better hours. At my previous job, I would leave work around 5 and get to daycare at 5:30. That left MAYBE two hours of time with my baby before bed, but often less because he was so exhausted from daycare that he would crash. My new job is just blocks from my house and daycare, and I can leave at 4:00 and be at daycare by 4:15. That extra hour makes a world of difference and is totally worth any stigma I incurred by switching jobs so soon after maternity leave. Aside from that, my new job is more challenging and interesting and a better fit for my skills and personality. Starting a new job while being a new mom was hard, but it was also the best choice I could have made. Don’t rule the idea out on principle (although it does sound like the set-up at your current job would be very supportive of a new parent).

    9. KumquatOC*

      I started a new job while pregnant and count it as a huge career success… but that’s entirely due to the much better circumstances of the new job. It eliminated my commute and came with a pay bump, which I knew going in, but what I couldn’t assess in the interview process (and turned out to be a tremendous stroke of luck) was how supportive and flexible my new boss turned out to be. Not only during the pregnancy, but during the postpartum adjustment period as well (allowed me long non-working pumping breaks, encouraged me to flex my time in the mornings to get more sleep). Now I’m pregnant with my second child and probably moving cities for my husband’s career. I’m leaning toward staying home initially rather than job-searching right now, just because I know the new job would need to be at least this flexible and helpful, and that’s a high bar to clear.

    10. Cube Diva*

      I don’t DISAGREE, but I just signed on full time to my company and I am nearly 3 months pregnant. Granted, I’ve been a contractor for 8 months, so I know the job, but all of the FMLA and parental leave is being extended to me, even though they don’t legally have to. So starting a new job COULD afford more benefits.

  6. Artemesia*

    Better a place you know is supportive and flexible than trying to start a new job with new baby or newly pregnant or whatever. Some people luck out and get a supportive boss when newly pregnant on a new job — my daughter did — but it is a crap shoot. The most important thing is flexibility and a supportive attitude.

    1. Joielle*

      Yes! I don’t have kids, but I feel like this is good advice for life transitions in general. At the current job, you have goodwill built up and even if/when you’re not at the absolute top of your game for a while, a supportive boss is so key.

    2. TheRedCoat*

      A boss that is truly flexible, and actually means it when they say ‘family first’ is worth their weight in gold.

    3. C*

      Agreed! I’m just back at work after my second maternity leave, and I’m definitely not performing at my peak. Luckily my colleagues know me as a hard worker already. You can always reassess the money, commute, etc. situation in 6 months or a year.

  7. Ralph Wiggum*

    Many child daycare facilities have a one-year waiting list to get in. Start looking at options and get on the waiting list soon.

    1. Dragoning*

      That’s baffling! Pregnancy isn’t even a year long! You’d have to get on the wait-list before you even know you’re expecting.

      1. gmg22*

        One of the reasons for this at many day cares is that once you get off the wait list and your child begins attending, you get priority for any additional children you may have. This makes a lot of sense if you consider the alternative of the logistical headache of having to place your kids at two or even three different day cares, but can certainly be frustrating to new families who keep getting bumped further and further down the list.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Yeah, and my guess is that on their side it’s a lot easier to manage 2 kids and 2 parents rather than 2 kids and 4 parents.

      2. Mary Dempster*

        Generally you don’t send a newborn to daycare – you take your 12 weeks of maternity leave, so that plus pregnancy is 1 year. We sent our first daughter to daycare when she was 5 months, but had the luxury of my husband being at home for two months after I went back to work.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          I think in the Bay Area the wait time can be 2ish years for places located in silicon valley. My friend has told me stories.

        2. Frankie*

          Wait lists for infant rooms in some areas are just nuts, though. The only reason we got our day care spot in time is because our center is newer and opened an additional room–and I still had to negotiate extra leave to cover about a month’s gap.

        3. Eeyore's missing tail*

          If your lucky, you get 12 weeks. If both you and your spouse work for the same employers, FMLA gets real fun. I’m looking at only taking 8 because my husband will want to take time off as well (and I can’t afford that much unpaid leave).

        4. Working Single Mom*

          Yeah, this varies widely by location. My daughter started daycare at 6 weeks, which is how long my maternity leave lasted.

    2. Fellow Working Single Mom*

      I want to stress that good daycare is worth the cost and wait as a single parent (it will ease your mind so much to know they’re well cared for). I had to wait for 1.5 years for an opening at my current center so… get on the wait list as soon as you can!

      1. Zombeyonce*

        The cost is such a big thing. We pay out the nose for daycare but consider it worth it because our kid gets really great care and is happy. I’m okay with daycare being by far the biggest line item in our budget because I can buy generic food and live in a smaller place but I don’t want lackadaisical care for my kid.

        It’s also good to keep in mind that daycare costs generally go down over time. Infant care is the most expensive by far, but as the child hits certain ages it gets cheaper. But, daycares often raise their prices annually so your total may not go down much but hopefully you’re getting raises annually, too, so it’s a smaller part of your budget as the kid ages. It will be hardest the first 18 months when it’s the most expensive but if you can make it through that, it’ll be much more manageable.

      2. Celeste*

        You are basically investing in keeping your job, which will provide for your child beyond just childcare. It helped me to think about it that way.

    3. I should be working ...*

      I can say that this is the same in Canada in the large cities. My husband put our name on the list for the daycare in his (now my) office building when I was maybe 13 weeks pregnant. It took 2 YEARS to get a spot in that place. Thankfully we had a year of paid maternity/paternity (now can be up to 18 months) and we got a home daycare spot to cover between. I wouldn’t do any different though – I can have lunch with my daughter (and all the other kids) once a month, and I be at the daycare in literally two minutes if there is a problem.

    4. Celeste*

      This is key, because not all daycares take newborns. I see that the OP is in CA which gives a longer maternity leave, but in other states it’s only 6 weeks and yes, newborns go to daycare.

      Even at 12 weeks your baby will be an infant. That first year is the most expensive because the laws require a lower child to adult ratio, for obvious reasons. Usually they move out of the infant room when they can walk because then they would be a hazard to those who can’t yet walk.

      1. R.D.*

        Re: the first year is the most expensive… In our experience, not really.

        The rate on the infant room is higher than the toddler one room, which is higher than the toddler two room, which is higher than the preschool room, etc, but we found that annual rate increases nearly nullified our savings as the kids moved up a class.

        This year with the older one in kinder and the younger in pre-k at the elementary school, we thought for sure we would save money, but we are paying for the 2nd half of the day of kinder, wrap around care, preschool, and the care on all the days off and we are paying more this year than any previous year. Plus, the previous center provided lunch and 2 snacks. Now we need to make lunch or buy lunch each day, plus send a snack for the older one. Plus summer camp.

        When we did the budget we were surprised to see this year is more expensive than last year. Significantly. :(

        Next year we won’t have to pay for preschool so we will save $290 a month for 9 months and the year after we will save another 295, but it’s still not cheap.

  8. Kate*

    New mom of a five week old here. Take a serious look into the relative benefits of breast vs. formula–for term babies in industrialized countries, the benefits of breastfeeding are 1) quite minor once you control for socioeconomic status and 2) at least somewhat related to the act of breastfeeding itself, rather than the milk (for example the suck pattern of nursing is somewhat protective against ear infections.) I have a partner who is off work full time, supportive family and I still felt that exclusive BF’ing would be more than my mental health could handle and not worth it for any marginal health benefits (so we’re combo feeding, and will likely go to just formula when I go back to work.) ESPECIALLY as a single mom, if breastfeeding and pumping go well for you and your little one, great, but give yourself full permission to go with formula if they are not. Your little one will be just fine and formula makes it easier for family members and other caregivers to help you out. The benefits of pumped milk relative to formula are not well known, but I believe there’s every reason to think that they would exist on a gradient between direct breastfeeding and formula–and as I said before the benefits there are already quite minor. Check out skeptical OB, Fed is Best and Fearless Formula Feeder for more info.

    1. Lucy*

      This is an excellent post.

      Breastfeeding is shown to be superior to formula feeding across a population, but not for every mother-infant dyad. It’s not the only way to be a good mom.

    2. sunny-dee*

      This could be TMI, but…

      My son straight up refused to latch, so I was pumping and augmenting with formula. Because my breasts never really emptied, I had to pump CONSTANTLY to keep any kind of supply. As in every 2-3 hours, 24 hours a day. I felt like I had absolutely no freedom (even going out to eat or to a movie was extremely difficult because of the need to pump), I had to isolate myself when I was pumping, and I had absolutely no sleep. At all. And this with a baby who was really good about sleeping in 4-6 hour chunks even as a newborn. I weaned myself near the end of my 3 month mat leave and froze as much as I could so I could give him a few ounces of breast milk a day, at least. (2oz is enough for antibodies and some essential nutrients.) I felt AMAZING when it was all over. That schedule was exhausting.

      That said, business travel is insanely difficult to arrange. That can be limiting, depending on your career (I’m guessing it’s less of a factor with a CPA, but you never know.)

      And, honestly, your priorities will definitely change after you have kids. I simply don’t care about work like I did before. Not like I don’t want to do a good job or that I slack (not at all!), and I’m still working because right now, it benefits my family. But I don’t identify with my work like I did before and it’s not my main source of satisfaction or affirmation. Things change, and not in a bad way.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I had a similar situation where my kid never latched so I exclusively pumped. For 6 months. It was torturous and basically hell on earth. I did it that long because I had promised myself I would try for 6 months before I gave birth and there was SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. from so many people. The lactation people at the hospital were the worst, making me feel like a bad person for considering formula when my kid was losing tons of weight because she couldn’t get any milk the regular way.

        I just want every new mother to not have that pressure. If you want to breastfeed and it goes well, great! Do it! If it doesn’t go well, don’t push yourself to do what can be accomplished by formula. I would love to have that 6 months of no sleep (when I was working!) back. I was so exhausted all the time that I don’t really remember my kid’s first 6 months, and I am sad about that. Feed your baby in whatever way works for you and your family, period, and don’t listen to people that want to try and shame you for making whatever choice you make.

      2. R.D.*

        I feel you.

        My daughter was had a bad latch which hurt. She was tongue tied, but even after they snipped it, her latch didn’t fully improve. She was a slow eater and my supply was low. She lost too much weight and spent the first two months of her life, just on this side of having a failure to thrive diagnosis. though she was sleeping well, I was directed to wake her every 4 hours to eat until she had gained enough weight. So for those first six weeks, I would nurse her for 45 minutes, put her down (10 minutes), pump for 20 minutes, change her diaper (10 minutes), put her down again (10 minutes), label & freeze the milk half oz of milk I pumped & clean the bottles, pump, etc (20 minutes), make a sandwich & drink a glass of water (30 minutes), change her diaper (10 minutes), put her down again (10 minutes) pee (5 minutes). Assuming all went well and I didn’t accidentally spend 10 minutes staring at the wall, that gave me 60 minutes to sleep or shower, or tidy the house. That doesn’t sound bad until you realize that it was a round the clock schedule of me never sleeping for more than 60 minutes at a time and on top of that both nursing and pumping were excruciatingly painful due to her bad latch destroying my nipples. Plus the stress and lack of sleep hurt my supply.

        Supplementing was key, but I was too dazed to even consider it until her pediatrician basically yelled at me at her 6 week appointment. I did last 6 months nursing her. She probably got 50% formula. With my son, I supplemented immediately and was able to make it 9 months.

          1. R.D.*


            It did get better. She had already started to gain weight, but once I was supplementing, my husband took the 6 am feeding which gave me 6 hours of sleep. Shortly after that she started sleeping through the night. Though her latch never improved and she always nursed for 45 minutes, it stopped being painful. And I never had issues like clogged ducts.

            Outside of nursing issues, she was the easiest baby and an easier toddler. As a baby she rarely cried and slept plenty. She smiled early and adored going out. Teething didn’t bother her too much and she had no reactions to her shots. She caught every cold, stomach bug, and pink eye, but they were never serious. She didn’t have colic and she never got croup. As a toddler she talked and walked early and because she was small, it was never hard lugging her and the car seat around. We never had bedtime fights. Even before she could talk, she would just walk over to the stairs when she was ready for bed. She potty trained easily and night trained herself. The only issues we had were that she would sleep walk in her footy pjs to go potty and then wake up naked and alone on the toilet in the dark. Switching pj’s fixed that. Once she wasn’t naked, she just put herself back to bed.

            She left us unprepared for a normal baby. My son still doesn’t sleep through the night and he turns 5 next week. He was colicky and while he got sick less often the first year, he tends to have breathing issues when he does. He also runs away in stores which is always super fun. Cheeky little thing.

      3. nonegiven*

        My niece is a CPA, assurance staff at one of the big 4, and sometimes travels a lot.

    3. EtherIther*

      I’m not a doctor, but I’m relatively certain it’s beneficial to at least due some breastfeeding, even if it is not exclusive.

      In fact, I found several sources agreeing with this, including the American Association of Pediatrics. It is of course important for you to make the best decision for you, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are benefits to breastfeeding.

      I will attach a link in a second comment, since they occasionally get lost in moderation…

        1. INeedANap*

          From what I can tell, no one is discouraging it. They’re just pointing out that the alternative is fine. Where did you get the sense that anyone was discouraging it?

          1. EtherIther*

            I felt as if Kate’s comments on the (lack of) benefits of breastfeeding and suggesting not breastfeeding could be considered discouraging, and at the least, are not in agreement with medical professionals and medical organizations such as the American Association of Pediatrics. The alternative may be fine (and as said, we should not shame mothers an be concerned for the mental health of mothers), but it isn’t necessarily as good.

            1. Eeyore's missing tail*

              It kind of seems like you are shaming, though. You’re still saying it isn’t good, which could default to “You really should be breastfeeding”.

              1. EtherIther*

                I was actively trying not to shame, but just point out that there are known benefits to breast milk as stemprof said below. I apologize to anyone hurt by the comments, as it wasn’t my intention!

        2. New (working) mom*

          Agreed. I accidentally replied to this down thread, but there are immune benefits to breastfeeding that really help out, especially if your baby is in daycare and exposed to all the germs.

          I am a firm believer that maternal mental health is the priority, and we shouldn’t shame anyone, but we should also encourage people to give breastfeeding a solid try if they can. Personally I struggled in the beginning but am super grateful I was able to push through, for a number of reasons.

          1. Working Single Mom*

            One thing I didn’t know is that most of the benefits of breastfeeding (transferred immunity was the one I personally was most concerned with) do kick in even when it’s only done part-time. Doing formula at daycare and breastfeeding at home was a great balance for my family. Really the moral is that you need to figure out what works for your family, and do that, guilt-free. Your time and mental/physical health as a mom should be part of that equation, along with your own priorities for benefits of each method.

      1. NYWeasel*

        Long story, but short version is that I supplemented when I went back to work bc my supply decreased due to stress. I did a lot of reading at the time and found that the general belief (at the time) was that as long as you do at least one daily BF feeding, your baby gets all the “good stuff”. I think it’s a shame that BF’ing is so often portrayed as all or nothing when you can still get a lot of the benefits but also get a break now and then.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          I did not get good volume from pumping. I did it anyway, but mainly to keep up supply so I continue to BF on my days off at my normal schedule. I typically sent baby to daycare with one or two bottles of breast milk and the rest formula, and I breast-fed at home. I was devastated the first week of this. But he got the benefits of breast milk as much as I was able to provide and we continued breast feeding at home, so it was fine.

          There is no one right way. Do what works for you, and don’t listen to those who aren’t in your shoes.

    4. V*

      Ditto Kate’s point. Look up the Case Against Breastfeeding Atlantic article by Hanna Rosin – don’t let people bully you into it, even doctors. The benefits are unsubstantiated.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        I was coming to this thread to say two things and found out they are already here:
        1. The most important thing about your job will be whether it is flexible enough to get the time off you will need as a single parent who has to deal by yourself with doctors appointments, day care emergencies (when your day care provider is sick, as well as when your child is sick), and later, school demands — as well as your own medical stuff. This isn’t to say you should never consider a new job, but if you do move, make sure it is to one that is MORE flexible rather than less, at least until your child is older. Yes, you are ambitions, but try to build your value or find a more interesting career path with your present employer first, rather than switching jobs right now.
        2. I know its not the fashion right now, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bottle feeding, it is absolutely your own choice — I found even partial breast feeding when I was back at work to be exhausting and stressful, to the point that my doctor urged me to stop. So I switched to bottle feeding my daughter at 3 months, I had more energy at work and also with her, and we were just as close/bonded as we had always been.

      2. stemprof*

        Sorry, as an epidemiologist I can’t let this go. The benefits in terms of short term morbidity & mortality are very much substantiated. Kids who are breastfed have a reduced risk of getting sick (esp. diarrhea and respiratory illness) *while they are being breastfed*. There is a ton of data on this. The effects are more pronounced in low income countries because they have higher prevalence of disease and higher levels of infant mortality. In the US kids rarely die from diarrhea so it’s not as big of an issue (but still does reduce morbidity). *Longer term effects* (on allergies/asthma, chronic disease, development, etc) are much less clear.
        BUT not everyone can breastfeed, for physical, mental, and logistical reasons – it is very much a personal choice (and often not a choice at all) and we should be supporting women and not shaming them. But let’s not misstate the science in the process. I think of it like exercise – not everyone can, or wants to, get the recommended levels of physical activity, for lots of different reasons (like me right now). But that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t good for you.

        1. fposte*

          I think saying it’s a fact that breastfeeding *globally* is superior is very different from saying “breastfeeding is better for the personal baby of you, the OP.” The first can be true while the second one remains undetermined.

        2. Blerpborp*

          So you’re still ultimately saying the same thing as the OP in this thread- long term benefits are unproven, short term benefits in the US are not as valuable as they are in less developed, more disease prone locations. The OP of this thread was just trying to counter the overwhelming push to breastfeed no matter what. Being fed is what’s good and the small benefits of breastfeeding can be outweighed by the mental/physical well being of the mother and I think an alternate voice is useful as all the other previous, related comments assumed the OP was going to pump.

          1. stemprof*

            Sure, I was reacting to someone making a blanket statement that the benefits of breastfeeding are unsubstantiated. No problem with the rest of the thread.

          2. V*

            Thanks Blerpborp – that’s exactly what I was saying. The medical community (I work in) acts like it’s as black and white as breastmilk is a magic cure-all and formula is poison – while the benefits are literally so slim. I will never be a mom but I’ve heard enough horror stories of women being bullied by lactation consultants and others to put it out there every time I get the chance that it’s not the only option!

    5. atalanta0jess*

      Just to add to this: breastfeeding and formula feeding are NOT mutually exclusive.

      I started combo feeding by medical necessity, but when I had the option of getting my supply up high enough to exclusively breastfeed, I opted not to. I still pumped as much milk as I could, but knowing that formula was a decent back up plan made it MUCH lower stress. I got what I got, and that was fine.

      We nursed until my kiddo was 2.5, so it didn’t mess up our nursing relationship, or whatever you want to call it. Our LC advised Dr. Brown’s bottles with preemie nipples, because they are the lowest flow, so your kiddo will be less likely to prefer the bottle/refuse the breast.

    6. Future Homesteader*

      I’m currently an exclusively pumping/BF’ing mom of a six month old and I endorse this message!! I love breastfeeding and have learned to tolerate pumping and have a super supportive work environment and partner who is home full-time with baby. That said, I still thought for a hot second about at least switching to combo feeding when I went back to work. Do what is best for you and don’t look back. There are lots of options out there, pick the one that makes the most sense for you and your baby. Your mental health is the most important part of this by far.

      1. New (working) mom*

        Your mental health is the most important thing! But, if you can breastfeed, and you’re planning on using daycare, breastfeeding is awesome for immunity benefits. This winter (our first) my baby has gotten a lot of low level illnesses, but she passes them on to me, I produce antibodies to them which she gets through breastmilk, and then she recovers almost immediately. Downside – I’ll be sick for several days, but I can work through a mild cold, whereas I’d have to stay home with her if she got really sick. I do complain about being an antibody factory, but honestly, I 100% prefer having a cold myself to having a baby with a cold. They don’t know how to blow their noses.

    7. Harper the Other One*

      Second all of this! I had a wonderful breastfeeding experience with my two – but I also didn’t have to work, and it came easily. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are doing something wrong or affecting your baby if you opt for formula – it’s not like you’re feeding battery acid!

    8. Samwise*

      Good post. I bf’d almost exclusively, didn’t wean until about 14 months — for a time my child had constant ear infections and other colds/infections and that was the only thing that he could keep down, literally. But nothing wrong with formula if that’s what works best for you. And don’t let anyone bully you about it, either.

    9. Former Help Desk Peon*

      +1 I tried breastfeeding, but it was honestly a nightmare for us. Formula was much easier on us, and I would switch to it much faster a second time around.

    10. Bulbasaur*

      Yes to this. My biggest regret from our parenthood journey is not supporting my wife better when she wanted to give up breastfeeding for formula (in hindsight I had been propagandized to some extent). She had issues with supply and the proposed regime for addressing it rapidly became oppressive and soul-destroying, to the point where it should have been obvious to me that it was causing more harm than any benefits we might gain from it. I realized that very few maternity professionals will ever outright recommend that you stop, even when it’s clearly the best decision, and even those that do will never go on the record with it. Maybe it will all go well for you, but if not then you may need to make that call yourself, and may feel like a terrible person for doing it if it happens. Don’t fall for it. Breastfeeding decisions don’t happen in a vacuum, and there can be consequences for persisting with it that outweigh the benefits in some cases (for example, it can be a risk factor for postpartum depression). There are times when, after taking all factors into consideration, giving up can be the best decision for both you and your child.

      Yes, breastfeeding is good and it’s worth persisting with even though it takes work and effort to get right, but it’s one of many cost/benefit decisions you will be making, and it shouldn’t reign supreme over all the others.

  9. sloan kittering*

    If OP was my friend or my sister, I’d probably counsel her to stay in place for now while being open to change in the future. I say this because she currently enjoys her work and her boss, and has some desirable perks available to her now – and also, it’s of value to be a known entity at your office during the times when you may not be able to be at your 100% best (like late pregnancy or early parenthood, when there’s a lot of unknowns to deal with). It also sounds like there’s a natural opportunity for change coming up anyway, when OP has their license, and she can re-evaluate at that time with better information about what she actually wants and needs at that time. Don’t borrow trouble yet. Sufficient unto the day, etc.

    1. Lurker*

      I had the same reaction! The hard part about new parenthood is that there is SO much that you just don’t know. Your baby might be a champion sleeper, but your baby might also be a vampire who keeps you up all night! Having taken a new job, only to find out that I was pregnant, it’s an enormous amount of pressure to put on yourself to be proving yourself with a whole new set of people while pregnant or a new parent. And you just can’t know what you and your family are going to need until your baby arrives. So having built up a good reputation and some good will with your colleagues is enormously helpful when you haven’t slept a wink and you’ve got to rush to the day care for the third time in a week.

      I’d say if you are going to have a baby within a year, stay put and only consider a change once you’ve made it out of the sleepless nights/first year. If you have a longer timeline in mind, like two or three years, it’s much more doable!

      Hope this helps!

      1. sloan kittering*

        Note that if OP hated their job, I wouldn’t tell them to stay there just because they might get pregnant soon. For one thing, the actual timing of a new baby arriving is a real crapshoot, so you wouldn’t want to put your career on hold year after year while you wait.

    2. Psyche*

      I agree. Since the OP is relatively happy in her current position, the benefits are tilted towards staying for now. Once the baby is born and she sees whether she still enjoys the challenging work and can tolerate a longer commute she can decide whether to stay or go and will have better information about what she needs from an employer to be happy.

    3. Happy Lurker*

      Seconding Sloan’s advice. Having a good boss is beyond measure. Double that with a good work environment and I would stay put. OP seems content enough from the letter.
      OP’s description of the relationship with the boss is enough for me to advise against making any changes for a couple years. The peace of mind knowing your boss has your back while you ramp up your personal life is invaluable.
      Spoken as a person who has had both amazing and terrible bosses!
      Congrats OP – what a great situation to be in! New licensing and family expansion is wonderful. Good luck!

    4. Celeste*

      I totally agree. Until you experience the sleep deprivation of a new parent, you just can’t know what to expect. The first couple of years are just really hard, because even the best sleepers WILL have sleep regressions due to growth, teething, illness, and due to changes like travel. It’s really better if you are not trying to do more than usual while you are doing so much more than usual at home. If that makes sense. IOW, something’s got to give.

  10. k8isgreat*

    Get a care.com account and find several back-up babysitters and interview and test them out early. One of the hardest parts of being a working parent are the random times that either your kid get sick or daycare is closed with little or no warning. It’s one thing to have people say “just get a sitter” it’s another to find yourself at 8 am with a sick kid/closed daycare and nothing lined up. Care.com also has “care-on-call” which is for last minute emergencies like this.

    Also, explore your company’s and state’s benefits! There might be some hidden perks in there for parents that you didn’t know about.

    Sign up for the FSA dependent care account if your job offers it. It’s not much, but every little bit helps.

    But mostly relax, as long as you have a job that has a reasonable amount of PTO, you can handle this.

    1. blink14*

      Second this! Care.com is part of our benefits, and my manager has had great luck in using it for random babysitting needs.

    2. School Inclusion Specialist*

      Yes, you need to assemble your team.

      We’ve hired people from our daycare to take our children home (daycare is a block from our house) if my husband and I both have late nights. We also have a neighborhood woman who we found on Facebook.
      Also, especially once your child is older, I’d check out local colleges for a back-up. Our daughter has some health issues and I’ve posted in the local nursing school for babysitters.

      1. Ms. Mad Scientist*

        A number of employers offer back up care to come through in emergencies. I’ve used it before and was highly greatful.

  11. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Not really sure how to categorize this entry, but I want to tell you, OP regarding the job situation… you are looking at important issues, but (maybe for the purpose of this letter) you are not talking about the pregnancy. Please think about where you want to be while you are getting and being pregnant. Realize the toll it will take on your body. If you have to get injections, and then when you do conceive…I think if you start a new job you will want time to acclimate and you have the privilege? benefit? of doing that because you are in a good place right now.

    1. atalanta0jess*

      This is great advice. Pregnancy was a nightmare for me, and I had a 100% healthy pregnancy! I felt like shit every day for basically the entire time, and was exhausted. Good times. If I’d been in a new job, it would have been miserable and they would have hated me because I was running on fumes.

      1. MommyMD*

        Me too. Pregnancy can be taxing and you aren’t always able to put forward the best you for strangers in a new job.

    2. Anon for this*

      Seconding this. I’m four months pregnant and it’s been a healthy pregnancy so far but I’ve needed accomodations from my boss and coworker. I’ve had intense morning sickness (which has not abated) which means I need my coworkers to understand why I suddenly have to duck out of a meeting or during event set up. I’m also not allowed to lift heavy things right now due to some pelvic girdle pain. I’m also tired a lot. Because I’ve built up goodwill here, it makes things a lot easier. I would find it really nerve wracking to need these accommodations in a new job when I would be building my reputation.

    3. Not in US*

      This. My first pregnancy was high risk unexpectedly for a variety of reasons. I was ordered off work around 5 or 6 months. My second pregnancy was supposed to be my easy one. I wasn’t going to take as long as I legally could but then it also became high risk due to twins. I was again ordered off with more physical restrictions than the first time. I did not enjoy being pregnant either time. I was not at my best and all my pregnancies ended well but you don’t know what’s going to happen ahead of time. It’s really not something you can control or plan for.

    4. Working Single Mom*

      Yes! I had a really easy pregnancy for me, physically (it even temporarily did away with my lactose intolerance which was MAGICAL), but there was an abnormality with my daughter’s umbilical cord which turned out to have no adverse effects for her but required lots of extra monitoring. I had to go in for 2-hour-long tests twice a week for the last month of pregnancy, and had more check-ups and ultrasounds than were usually required. It took up a lot of sick time! Just be prepared for the unexpected.

    5. Legal Beagle*

      Yes, this is really important. Pregnancy is also a part of the parenting journey, and it can be really physically exhausting. It’s easy to conceptualize it as if things only start on day 1 of the baby’s life, but for you, it’s a loooong 40 weeks (+ the time it takes to conceive) to get there. I was mildly unhappy at the job I had during my pregnancy, but it was very helpful to be a known quantity and have some leeway for things like doctors appointments, childbirth classes, or even random stuff like needing to sit in meetings with my legs elevated because I had bad swelling. At a new job, that would have been much harder to do.

      What I crave now is flexibility, work from home ability, and a shorter commute. Being able to come in late or leave early for a doctors appointment or a parents event at daycare, not worrying about taking a day because my kid is sick, etc. My time feels much more precious because I have such limited hours with my child during the week. An accommodating boss is a huge bonus! More money helps, too, because full-time daycare is ridiculously expensive.

  12. Lucy*

    The trouble (and the joy!) with children is how unpredictable they are. You can’t choose whether your child is a good sleeper, an avid reader, a keen swimmer, asthmatic, talkative, creative, or whatever, and those personality traits plus health conditions will absolutely determine what your child’s life looks like – what day care or school you need to choose, where you want to live, how much time off you need to take, what your outgoings will be, and so on.

    You’re not just planning a baby but a fully fledged person so although it’s great to be able to pump in the short term it’s only a feature of your parenting for a very short period. In the long term, factors such as a good relationship with management and established flexibility will likely be more useful for the chaos whirlwind joining your life.

    A note: as a rule, expensive childcare is good childcare, and that’s far more valuable than you’d think. A safe and nurturing environment sets up your infant to thrive.

    Very best of luck.

    1. Katie*

      Yes to all of this. You really can’t predict the type of child you will have ahead of time, but it is useful to think about different scenarios you might encounter and how you may approach them. You almost don’t know what you don’t know before you become a parent. What happens when the baby goes a full week without sleeping at night, but you still have to go (and function) at work? What happens when the first fever happens, but you’re out of PTO? How do you take a shower alone while ensuring the new crawler is safe? (All real life examples) The phrase, “It takes a village” is soooo true when it comes to surviving early parenthood, and it’s very comforting having backup support systems in a pinch. I absolutely commend single parenting, because I honestly don’t know how I would cope alone – just being solely in charge of everything is a huge mental and physical toll on your body and mind. I say this at 30 weeks pregnant with #2 with a very active 2.5 year old doing double duty for the week while hubby travels for work.

      1. Lucy*

        My eldest managed to catch swine flu (!!) about eight weeks after the end of my maternity leave, and then chicken pox about eight weeks after I started a new job. Eight years and two more children later, I note that they always come down with something on the day your big meeting is scheduled …

    2. R*

      With respect, I would give a counter example to your last point. In general, you are probably right. But the best child care is dictated by the person providing it, not the amount you spend on them. At the expensive daycare we tried first, my baby didn’t bond with any of the teachers and was noticeably unhappy as a result. At the cheaper (by 25%) one we are at now, she LOVES all her teachers and practically leaps out of my arms into theirs every morning. And they love her back. For very young kids, that is far more important than fancy facilities or monitoring cameras or anything else, and I really wish I had realized it sooner.

      1. fposte*

        I think what Lucy meant wasn’t that the most expensive would be the best, just that this was an area where you don’t want to cheap out.

        1. R*

          Oh, I’m sure! I just don’t want anyone reading this to feel like they aren’t being a good parent because they can’t afford the ‘expensive’ child care. Just attempting to highlight that there are other factors that are more important, and it took me a while to realize that.

          1. Lucy*

            fposte articulated my point very well – not a place to cheap out.

            But agreed that expense doesn’t guarantee quality!

        2. Frankie*

          Yeah, the sticker shock of daycare (our second mortgage, lololol *cries*) can make you consider options that might not be in the best interest of your kid in the long run. Some friends of ours save a lot of money using an in-home day care, but they’ve realized the caregiver just kinda leaves the kids sitting all day without engaging them, so they’re looking at pricier options now.

          (some in-homes are great, of course, would have loved to have found a good one with an opening)

          1. Sal*

            Ooof, feeling this so hard right now. We made some convenience/value related childcare decisions and there was an apparently-unrelated outcome (owner-operator was arrested for child abuse charges that were later dropped and we thiiiiink were false? Hopefully?) that will nevertheless have me feeling guilty and anxious for oh, the rest of my life.

          2. Quackeen*

            I’m not sure that anyone will even see this comment because it’s a day late and lost amidst some great advice, but one thing that I highly encourage people to remember with in-home daycare is that you’re not just hiring that person, you need to be aware of and concerned with every person who lives in that household/has access to the household regularly. Our first in-home experience turned sour because we really hadn’t done our due diligence in this respect and when an issue with our provider’s brother-in-law came up, we really felt that we had no choice but to leave. We ended up going with another in-home provider (waiting lists for centers being what they were), and we asked more careful questions, called more references, and went with our gut feelings. She was amazing and is still a treasured friend.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        The point about realizing your baby or toddler isn’t adapting well to any one day care situation and being willing to find a new one is key. Our first long-term daycare (a well known chain) was amazing but when my daughter was 2.5 yrs old, I moved work locations and had to find a new daycare. Second daycare (a different well known chain) was the worst for her – she became very subdued when I dropped her off, and had meltdowns when we got home in the evening. Other kids seemed happy and engaged, but the setup didn’t offer the stability my daughter needed and she just had a visceral negative reaction to the primary teacher. Since nothing else was available for immediate enrollment, I found a home daycare that was a great ‘recovery’ place for her and 6 months later she was in preschool/care at a fourth (chain) daycare which was a perfect fit.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      This is a good point. Particularly unpredictability and flexibility. Both my kids are school-aged, so they aren’t enrolled in fulltime daycare and drop-in facilities are pretty well nonexistent here.

      Last year just one of them alone missed 17 days of school for illness *before Christmas*. Combined, we probably had over 20 days of missed school in 4 months. They’re basically healthy, no chronic problems, it was just a very bad cold & flu season with gross snotty low-grade fevers and gnarly stomach viruses. Centers won’t take them like that, you have to deal with that stuff yourself, or have family/friend care or in-home care lined up.

      So far this year, we’ve had a parade of broken bones, ear infections, strep throat, and pinkeye.

      I freelance and work at home, and my husband has flexible hours, and I still lost lots of work time because you just can’t be in 2 places at once. If I had a job with specified hours and PTO, I would have lost it.

    4. stemprof*

      Agree with this 100%. Flexibility is so, so, so helpful with kids – especially if you don’t have a partner or family nearby. $$$ is helpful too, of course – especially in the early years – but assuming you can swing it budget-wise I would stay somewhere you know is supportive & flexible vs taking a chance on a new job and office environment – especially when your kid is young (lots of doctor’s appointments and sick days in the first few years).
      A note on the childcare – the most expensive isn’t always the best – we found excellent home daycare for our daughter when she was an infant. More expensive than other home daycares but less than centers. It was fantastic, our daughter was one of two kids there and got tons of attention (but we really had to search – most of the home daycares we saw were not great quality).

  13. Matilda*

    While single parenting comes with its own considerations and complications which I have little insight on my two cents as a working parent:

    If you like your job, your boss (and your boss has shown to treat her employees respectfully and like people), and have some flexibility, as long as you can make the daycare payments work, I’d stay where you currently are and not make any big changes until you’ve been back from maternity leave at least a year. One, in many places (I know California does have better worker protections than most states) you need to be working for a place at least a year before qualifying for certain benefits, etc. Two, you might find the complex work overwhelming when you first get back from maternity leave, but while having a kid changes quite a bit, I found that I was still just me at the end of it and liked the same stuff I always did (even if some priorities shifted) – and the fog that comes with the lack of sleep does come to an end. Not that pay isn’t important when it comes to daycare expenses (although they generally go down a tad as your child gets older), but having a job that you and enjoy and has flexibility can be equally as important (again as long as you can actually make it work).

    Tldr: I would wait until after maternity leave was over (by several months at the very least) to see where I was feeling about working environment, budgeting issues, and life priorities before making big career changes.

    1. PhyllisB*

      Seconding everything Matilda said, especially waiting a year after mat. leave to make any decisions. You have a lot of positives going for you now: flexible schedule if needed, supportive boss, interesting work. The only two downsides I see are the commute and the pay. Neither are unimportant, but I think the other positives outweigh these. I also agree that finding daycare closer to your place of employment would be a good thing. Also check the late pick-up policy. I had my children in the eighties, and the late policy was $5.00 for every minute late. Ouch. Luckily I had family support, but one time I was in a bind and ended up having to fork over $150.00. Not that they didn’t deserve it, but still…as I said, this was the eighties, so it may be a lot more now.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Yes, I agree with all of this if you are in a situation you like. The other thing I will add is that the hardest parts really are at the beginning. The first year is hard. Even with a really good baby, it’s hard. Plus it’s new. Staying in a comfortable environment while you are in the thick of it may help.

    2. Emily S.*

      I agree with this. It sounds like OP’s current job is a very good fit, especially with such a great boss, and the privacy of her own office!

  14. Gumption*

    From observing other parents (as one was at home when I returned to work):
    Flexible daycare.
    Back up plan for the daycare.
    Back up plan to the back up plan. Because it happens in two-parent families too where the daycare falls thru for some reason or because the child is sick and cannot go to daycare that day. Parents lose sick days or vacation days because of sick kids.
    Anticipate many bouts of the common cold (and if you are unlucky, other fun illnesses) for as long as your child is in daycare, for the child and for yourself. This may continue into the school years. What is the sick leave policy at work?
    Plan for traffic – so many parents bolt out the door right at four because the daycare closes at five and they barely make it every day due to traffic. Being late = $$.
    Daycare and schools have lots of “let’s invite the parents to watch the kids perform” or “have a themed event” things going on and it’s always, always, always during work hours. Do you have the flexibility to go to these events or can you handle the guilt of being the parent who cannot go? This is important as you won’t want to resent working and missing these (sometimes frivolous) events.
    Are there shopping places close to work that would allow you to run critical errands during lunch so that you can enjoy time at home with your child after work?

    Good luck. Parenting a child is a blessing and a privilege and a lot of work.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      Oh, shopping. Target and Walmart grocery pickup are a life-saver. They bring it right to your car and load it in.

  15. nnn*

    1. Think about when the kid has to stay home sick or go to the doctor. Does your job have enough sick/other leave to accommodate that, as well as your own sick leave needs, as well as the fact that you’ll probably be exposed to more colds/viruses etc. when you have a small child?

    2. Some of my co-workers have had a daily panic to get out of the office in time to pick their kid up from daycare in time, because they get fined if they pick up their kid late. Something comes up at work towards the end of the day and it turns into a scheduling crisis for them. Can you arrange a combination of office hours and daycare hours that will avoid this?

    3. Are all the schools in your community ones that you can see sending your kid to, or do you have to live in a specific part of town to get into the catchment area of the kind of school you want your kid to attend. (Do you live there now? Will you have to move there? Can you afford it? How does that interact with your commute?)

    4. Think about what your kid’s elementary school years will look like. What time would they get out of school? Can you be home then? If not, what would after-school care arrangements look like? What would summer vacations look like? Does the combination of your schedule and your kid’s schedule allow for days when your kid comes home with “I need Bristol board and a pink shirt and 30 cupcakes for tomorrow”?

  16. In Your Shoes*

    Having been a single mom for the first 5 years of my son’s life (he’s now 13), flexibility in work hours is important. Having the strong reputation already established will help with this. If you love your boss, I would not add the stress of switching jobs while establishing yourself as a new parent.

    Be wise in your daycare choice. Confirm what days they have as standing days they are closed? Confirm hours of operation. If your commute can be longer to pick your child up, will you still be able to make it there on time if something comes up and you are not able to get out the door right at ending time? What are you expected to provide the daycare with (formula for example – some daycares provide this, some don’t, but it still affects your budgeting).

    Best of luck and I hope your baby is as good of a sleeper as mine was!

    1. Matilda*

      “Confirm what days they have as standing days they are closed?”
      This! I was thrown for a loop when I realized my daycare had a winter break. Gah! Luckily between me having the options to shift my hours and work weekends, relatives, and a partner with a somewhat flexible schedule, it’s mostly fine, but it’s not easy (and as much as I know my kid’s teachers are wonderful, probably underpaid, and deserve a two week paid break, it still makes me a bit grouchy).

  17. 5 month mommy*

    I have a 5-month old right now and returned to work at the beginning of January. Your current situation seems completely ideal! The most important thing I’ve found is the flexibility—I am able to leave early, come in late, or work from home if she seems sick.

    It sounds like you like your job, since you have an understanding boss and the flexibility I mentioned above, I’m not sure why you’d consider moving anywhere else! You’ll have to determine whether you find the job equally rewarding after having a child. I love my job exactly the same (except now I see it more as a vacation, haha!)

    Best of luck to you!

    1. Minocho*

      I was going to drop a comment about the ability to work from home. If her current position is reasonably cool about working from home, it sounds like staying where she is will be good for now.

      Hopefully a raise will be coming with the CPA designation!

      1. 5 month mommy*

        I will say “work from home” when you have an infant is really “work when napping but if this baby won’t nap you’ll get my work at 3am if i can keep my eyes open that long”—so it’s nice to have an understanding boss!

  18. Libby*

    OP, I’m not a single parent or a parent so I’m afraid my advice may not be very useful. But my first thought was that you have known entity in your job. It may not be perfect, but you know what it offers and it sounds pretty good. You also have an unknown entity in having a child- it’s new, so you don’t know what might come or what you might need (which is why you’re asking, so you know that already!). But you also have an unknown entity in any new potential jobs. If I were in your shoes, I would be inclined to stick it out with the current job and see how things go with being a parent– your situation will be unique to you, and while you’re in a (presumably) safe, known environment, you can discover what you need. Your manager sounds great, so hopefully she’d be able to help you make any adjustments needed to make things work better for you. And if you found that the fit wasn’t right after the baby- well, there’s no harm in leaving!

  19. Meredith Brooks*

    Your life is going to change a lot after a child. If you’re in a good place now, I would hold on to that until you get your feet under you after the baby is born. Based on what you’ve said, the important issues of flexibility for child care, a private space to pump (if that’s what you choose to do), a great boss who is sympathetic to single parenting are all pretty good perks and may be better than finding an office that will pay you more but have more limitations.

    All that said, it doesn’t hurt to look. But, comparison shop the heck out of them.

  20. Fellow Working Single Mom*

    I think you’re thinking about all the right things! The major factors for me have been: flexibility, benefits, and supportive colleagues. You will inevitably need to take time off when kiddo gets sick (mine is 2.5 years old and this usually means 1 – 2 days / per month). If there is any possibility to build in some remote work, that will prove very helpful (being able to do a load of laundry while you work is huge!). Being able to afford *good* daycare will give you tremendous relief/security when you can’t be with baby. I would sacrifice on rent/mortgage, car, etc. before daycare before pre K. A flexible spending account that allows you to contribute pre-tax dollars to daycare will likely save you at least $1000/year if not more. Good health in insurance for you and baby is a must.

    1. Working Single Mom*

      Yes. You might also look into short-term disability insurance. I got some through Geico which paid 80% of my wages for 6 weeks after my daughter was born, which stacked with my paid maternity leave. The caveat was that you had to have it for a certain amount of time before the birth so it wasn’t a pre-existing condition, but it was totally worth it.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Yes, if you are not pregnant yet, look into this now. If you are already pregnant when the coverage starts, it becomes a pre-existing condition. I actually had my midwife write some very explicit things in my medical records because due dates are usually calculated by the first date of your last period, not actual conception, and my last period was late June and the new fiscal year (and therefore new coverage) started July 1, when I was not in fact pregnant. Had it been recorded as last period date, I would not have qualified.

  21. Green great dragon*

    Look for somewhere you can work remotely at no notice. Children get sick and it makes a huge difference to your reputation and also your return to work if you can at least send a few emails saying ‘please do x for y today, here’s the email chain’ rather than having to drop everything every time.

    1. Marty*

      This is a great suggestion. I work remotely full time and has had a huge impact on my (now lack-of) stress. I work from 7-10PM and 5-8AM on days when I don’t have childcare.

      My neighbor is a CPA and does work from home 2-3 days/week which is great for her.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Yes! But also don’t plan to work from home with a kid, especially a sick kid, in the house and actually get anything done until the kid is like 8. You might get naps and be able to get a couple of hours in, or send some emails while the kid watches TV, but most people drastically overestimate their ability to combine work and child care.

  22. New (working) mom*

    Personally, I might hold off on switching jobs right now. I recently had a baby and chose to stay in my position for similar reasons.

    The biggest reason for me was personal capital – my job knows me, values me, and is therefore willing to work with me rather than lose me. I was able to negotiate a work from home situation for a few additional months, which made it easier for me to find a daycare I loved (lots of daycare centers won’t take babies under four months, but FMLA only gives you 3 months, ugh). Similarly, I had a more difficult pregnancy than anticipated and they were awesome about working with my 3-4x per week appointment schedule and let me flex my work hours and work from home the last few weeks rather than having to start my leave early (which I didn’t want to do, hoarding sick days!). And now that I have a baby, I need to be a little more flexible on working shorter days if the baby is sick, or if daycare is closed for a weird holiday. My current job knows that I’m a very reliable person and I rarely took sick leave before this, they trust me to get work done at home when necessary and aren’t worried about me needing to sometimes work a weird schedule (i.e. I’ll leave at 4pm to pick up the baby, hang with her until I get her in bed at 7pm, then hop back on the computer to finish up my day). And yes, working out the pumping situation can be tricky so having a nice workplace helps.

    I will also say that while I’m grateful to be back at work and have some adult time, the first year has been a bit of a haze for me, and I’m glad that I’m in a place that I’m familiar with and at least some of my work is fairly routine. Right now my priorities are shifted while I try to adapt to our new life and I don’t want all my spare headspace eaten up by work. I think in the next few years I’ll be ready for more complex challenges, but right now I’m grateful for routine that allows me to do a great job at work without expending 110% all the time.

    I would say to value flexibility and a supportive environment above pay right now, unless the pay difference is so huge that you would be able to pay for whatever additional support you need. I have a partner and I’m still amazed by how much effort goes into raising a baby. Managing daycare pick up and drop off, figuring out how to cover when the baby is sick and can’t go to daycare (or if you get a nanny, the nanny will sometimes get sick too, or take a vacation), etc.

    Caveat – I don’t have family in the area to help. If you have family, you might be able to tap them for help with coverage which could change the equation. Also, if you haven’t started trying yet, you may have plenty of time to establish yourself somewhere else before you need to go on leave, so take that into account!

    Having a tiny human is amazing though!

    1. LW1111*

      I’m a single mom of a 22 month old and I agree with this. It’s so useful to have capital built up and boss you like — my role was changed to something I don’t enjoy right after my maternity leave, but having a great boss meant I had flexibility to deal with kid related stuff and I had encouragement to keep moving forward in my career.
      Also, as a fellow choice mom I strongly suggest making sure you have a support system in place. Whether it’s family, friends, or even other single moms (there are some great organizations, Facebook groups, etc for SMCs!), it’s good to have someone you can call when the baby needs to go hone from daycare because of a fever and you’re supposed to give a presentation.

  23. Jess*

    Wow, that does feel like a challenging choice! I’m not a parent but have a bunch of friends who have had kids in recent years, including one single-mom-by-choice of a five-year-old. They’re all exhausted, to varying degrees. So my first question is, from a professional standpoint, do you think you could feel roughly as good as you do now about your current job in five years?

    If the answer is yes, then I’d lean heavily towards staying, and think about what you might do from there to situate yourself for a change (assuming you want one) once the kid is in kindergarten. Stability is invaluable when you’ve got a young life depending on you.

    If the answer is no, then I’d consider a very picky job search *before* getting pregnant… what you’d be looking for is something that is overall better than where you are now (pay, commute, flexibility, pleasant environment are the things I’d prioritize), where it feels like a no-brainer to take the new job, or a sense that you are happy staying in your current job for a while given the alternatives… and wait until you’re a few months into the new job before getting pregnant, in case it turns out to be a lemon.

    Hope this is helpful.

  24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Stay put for now. You’re in a career that is in high demand and you don’t need to be doing exhaustive searches to find new positions if necessary later. You don’t know how a place will work with you until you’ve established important relationships within the company! A new place can easily lead you to believe they will work with you but then you’re blindsided when you find out that’s all BS.

    In my experience in small business it’s often very flexible with kids. I had a job where the previous person brought her daughter in daily without any issues! Other places that have beyond flexible hours as well so you can essentially come and go within reason (aka you need to show up and be reliable but if you need to dash out for a sick toddler from daycare, you’re not going to need permission just a heads up on your way out etc).

    You’re at the very beginning stages. Gather information and ideas but be prepared to improvise. Being a parent is all about the improvising and figuring out the puzzle as you go. Don’t lock your mind on anything in particular, have multiple plans. This is something you can’t always control with the world full of variables.

  25. OtterB*

    Not a single mom, but I spent a lot of my kids’ toddler/preschooler years with spouse on extensive business travel.

    I agree with others who have suggested for now staying somewhere you are a known and valued quantity, and that you know is supportive and flexible.

    Plan for how you will handle child care for minor illnesses. There seemed to be a lot of days when a kid was too sick to go to daycare but not sick enough to really need the parent (e.g. waiting out 24 hours after a fever/vomiting but feeling fine by now).

    Daycare centers vary a lot. Good care (engages the kids, lets them follow their interests while safeguarding them, offers security and affection) trumps nearly everything else. Visit them and see what you like.

  26. sometimeswhy*

    As a single parent I found having the place I spent most of my waking hours not suck and not add additional stress to my life extremely valuable. I cannot even begin to express how much I appreciated a supportive boss (who was awful in many ways but was great in this aspect) and colleagues and flexible work and the ability to leave my work at work when my kid (now grown!) was going through serious health issues.

    Once things stabilized at home, I was able to pursue more complex and interesting things at the same company and have since been promoted into a HIGHLY complex position that frequently eats up my whole life and is occasionally super stressful but those literal years of being able to say, “No, I don’t think I’m a good fit for that new sexy project right now. I can do X Y and Z support it but I don’t think I should lead it,” was a thing I think I was only able to get because of the support of my boss, my skip-level, and my colleagues.

  27. Perpal*

    Congrats and good luck OP!
    I am a (2 parent) professional mom. I think identifying back-ups and support would be the most important thing. I don’t just have my husband, I have my mom-in-law, a part time nanny, and my parents are also willing to come in if someone needs to take a week off etc.
    Most work places aren’t flexible enough that if you need to take a day off on no-notice because you realize your kid is (throwing up, fevering, diarrhea, etc) it’d be easy to, but if yours is then having multiple back ups is less critical. But ideally you’ll have people you TRUST (babies; so intense, so fragile) and have experience with infants who are willing to help out. Do you have extended family or close friends who want to be that involved? Otherwise, consider a nanny (yes to care.com). Childcare centers can also be good but often can’t keep a child if they are sick because of the risk to the other kids, etc. And little kids do get bugs.
    Ideally you’d be able to talk with your employer a bit; usually we advise to wait until after things are fairly certain (say, 2nd trimester) given the vagaries of biology, but if you are well established in your job and you think your manager would be decent about it it might be worth floating the question, especially if you might want to change jobs. There’s certainly an advantage to living and/or working RIGHT NEXT TO home and/or daycare you’d want to use, when it’s feasible.
    The only other thing is, routines are your friend. Not sure if you area already a routine person or not but with kids, everything takes a lot of planning and generally it’s best if there’s a fairly regular food/play/sleep schedule.
    And yes there are a lot of sleepless nights at first and a lot of conflicting advice on how to handle sleeping and young babies (cry it out? sleep training? attachment parenting? Cosleeper? Separate rooms?) etc; and just when you think you find a system they hit a developmental change and it all seems off the rails again. I’m a general adherent to whatever works for you and your baby is the best, just know it’ll probably be tough and not exactly what you planned but it does even out after a while!

    1. DaffyDuck*

      Yes to the multiple back-ups! They may need to be available at the last minute also, not just if your child is sick, but possible outbreaks where the school needs to close, workers are ill, etc. Remember that young children are still developing their immune system, so they get sick more often (and more severely) than older children and adults.
      A relative or live-in nanny that can share the childcare burden so you can get enough sleep to function at work would be ideal.

  28. female-type person*

    When I went to work when my kid was just shy of age 2, I initially had one-on-one childcare because that was “better” and group childcare was “worse.”

    Well. That was all wrong, in my experience. When you are dealing with the childcare provider directly, you can bring up about one thing a month you want done differently, or you are “too hard to work for” or “too picky.” (You also don’t have to meet the caregiver’s emotional needs or participate in his or her life drama, if there is life drama. My caregiver was sweet, but there was a lot of drama and she had a big need to tell me about it, and it wore me out.) When you are in group childcare situation of a respectable size (I mean, multiple classrooms) there is administration and supervisors and a buffer between you and the person caring for your child. And, the caregivers have each other to talk to, and they get adult interaction, so it isn’t all on you. It is easier to bring things up. Ironically, I had better care and more control in a 1 to 9 ratio situation than 1 to 1.

    If you are open, the child care professionals can really be part of your parenting team. No one much has massive numbers of children, Duggers aside, so no one gets really, really good at it. But the child care professionals DO have that level of experience. If you ask, they will give you advice. But they are used to first time parents being very defensive, and are extremely tactful. They will say, hey, this isn’t working, can we try this other thing.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve read that the absolute worst type of childcare to have is a bad individual caregiver. Not that you had a bad caregiver, but like you said, even with a good caregiver, there are drawbacks when you’ve only got that one person.

    2. TheRedCoat*

      I love my kid’s daycare teachers for this. Their ratios are 1/5, and there are two teachers in his room. They have been -amazing- when we were struggling, and I’ve totally asked them for advice before. Kiddo loves them.

      A daycare/sitter that makes you feel at ease is the best. Expensive/not expensive/in home/center. Whatever. Whatever one when you go in, you say “Yep. This is the right one.”

    3. Perpal*

      I admit, before age 1 I prefer as close to 1:1 as possible *if I have someone I trust a lot and knows babies*
      After age 1 though I think they start to benefit a lot from socializing with other kids and enjoy it, so I think group care gets a lot more attractive

  29. Amelia*

    The daycare closing time is my biggest stressor. And I say this as someone who has a ton of help.
    Mine closes at 5:30pm. Before I had a baby, I always thought that I’m basically done with work at 5pm. But having a very very hard stop changes everything.

    For example, I was meeting with clients at 2pm yesterday. It was about 1 hour from my house. Then the meeting got pushed back. Suddenly, it was starting at 3pm and rush hour traffic would be starting soon after. I starting internally freaking out about daycare by 2:30ish. By 3pm, I’m frantically texting to see who can help with pickup (but quietly since I didn’t want the clients to realize). I finally got in touch my MIL who agreed to pick up. I ended up making it home at 5:40pm but that 10 minute delay basically consumed my afternoon.

    If you can get a daycare that ends significantly after your work ends, it will create a nice buffer for when you need it.

    1. irene adler*

      I became the de facto ‘after hours’ daycare for a daycare home.
      My job was to care for the owner’s two kids after the day care closed for the day. I wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with the other kids at the day care. Unfortunately, I got ‘stuck’ with any kids whose parents were late in picking them up. The day-time day care workers simply left at 5:30.

      The parents were very apologetic about it all. But they continued to be late. **shrug**

      I solved it by quitting as I didn’t think it was my place to say anything.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      Yes to this for sure. My 5-year-old twins have been in a variety of different care situations, and having to worry about pickup time just makes all of life more stressful. Our current preschool/daycare is open 6:30-6:30, and since they’re usually there from like 8:30 – 5:15 we just never worry about the timing. Something would have to go really really wrong before I couldn’t get there in time. It’s also nice when my spouse is travelling (not an issue here) or there are early or late meetings.

      Also see if the daycare center you choose provides snacks and lunch (or if your nanny or nanny share will do food prep). Packing lunch for toddlers is a surprisingly large pain in the neck compared to having food provided, and when you’re busy every little logistical worry you can take off your plate can help.

    3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      “I ended up making it home at 5:40pm but that 10 minute delay basically consumed my afternoon.” This sums up so much about being a working parent with littles.

  30. Llellayena*

    Childless commenter here, so grain of salt on my comment: I’d stick with the current job and see if you can negotiate a raise now, based on your current work or your new CPA license (before getting pregnant). That will help both with calculations for daycare and if you decide to job hunt. Your current company seems incredibly supportive of the pregnancy, single mother and early babyhood stages so it would be worth not having that major part of your life changing while you go through the baby changes. Once the kid is in daycare and you have a routine that’s working for you, if you’re interested in moving on it’ll be easier to job hunt. Working around your routine and family support can be part of the qualities you look for in the new company. You’ll know by then what support you need to make a new job work for you. Good luck!

  31. EastCoastSingleMom*

    Congrats on the new baby!! I’m too a single mom of a 7 year old. I can really only speak about my own experiences here, so YMMV. And sorry for the long read! This subject is very close to my heart.

    I approached my career path in phases that matched my child’s development. When I was pregnant with her I stayed at the job I had because I was a proven employee, had a big bank of PTO to draw from to add onto the paid paternity leave that my company offered. At the time though, I was so ready to leave. In fact, I did interview for other jobs during the first trimester, but stopped after the anxiety of not having the protection from FMLA grew to be too much.

    I started up the job search again once she was in daycare, and I felt that I could take on a new job. I looked for jobs that were set up for telework, supported flexible hours for parents (aka leaving early to pick up from daycare), and was closer to her daycare. I live in a large East Coast city so, commute times for picking my child up after work played a huge factor. I found a job that was an expansion of my responsibilities but didn’t have me working crazy hours.

    I made another career jump once my kid started Elementary school and opened up my job search to jobs that had more risks and more responsibilities. I felt more comfortable taking those riskier jobs on as my child was more mature- as I said YMMV here. But I turned down jobs that were not friendly to parents leaving early and working outside office hours to make up the difference. It was sad to say no to some high paying jobs, but if they couldn’t be supportive of me leaving early then it wouldn’t have worked out.

    The biggest pain I’m having right now is how to continue moving up in my career path when I don’t have that partner that can help share the burden of sick child days or emergency calls that I have to leave work for. But at least I don’t have to have those arguments about who’s job is more important. ;)

    1. Not OP but in similar boat*

      Not the OP, but just wanted to say that I appreciate your comments. I’m looking to get pregnant as a single woman in the next year or so and am at the point where I am tired by the drama of my current job. But I’ve been here a while, get paid well, and have built up a lot of credibility and have decent vacation time and parental leave. I always get in my head that I have to make the choice to stay here forever if I make the decision to have a kid. It’s nice to hear the perspective that it’s possible to change jobs in the future, just wait until things have settled a bit. Thanks for sharing :)

  32. wandering_beagle*

    I think everyone is making really good points about things to consider as a working parent, and I agree with the commentators saying to stay put for the moment.

    Another reason to stay put would be that when you are trying to get pregnant and when you are pregnant you are going to have a lot of a lot of doctor’s appointments and missed work. Yes, pregnancy is a short-term thing. You’re in good standing at your current job, so leaving work for appointments probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But if you were working somewhere new and having to go to a bunch of doctor’s check-ups, those absences might put a strain on the goodwill you would be trying to build.

  33. Jennifer*

    Keep in mind sick days…my son goes to school but kids get sick a ton once they start school and he’s been out 5 days this school year already and he’s not an overly sickly kid. I know of flexible offices who aren’t as flexible once you have to miss lots of days. Sorry to sound so negative but my husband and I have learned just how unfriendly the working environment is to moms the hard way!

  34. ExtraAnonymous*

    Hey! So, I’m a (fairly) new, single mom. It is awesome, so I wish you the best of luck. My employer has been super supportive of me, both during the pregnancy and since I returned from leave. It sounds like you like where you are, in which case trying to stay probably makes sense – especially since FMLA and a lot of maternity benefits don’t kick in until you’ve been somewhere a year. So here’s my advice:

    1) Take as much maternity leave as you can (obviously affordability is a huge issue).

    2) Talk to your employer about the possibility of doing a part-time transition back to work (this has to make sense with your childcare and income). It’s much easier getting back up to speed while working part-time than trying to go 0-60, it’s also less difficult emotionally (or it was for me).

    3) See if you can get flexibility to work from home when necessary, and maybe adjust your hours to miss the traffic causing the hour long trip home. I leave early and then take out the laptop once my kid is asleep.

    1. Working Single Mom*

      Just wanted to offer a different perspective about #1 – I also single-parented an infant, and after about 4 weeks I was *dying* to go back to work. I found it really isolating being alone with just my daughter for 24 hours a day. I ended up being out 6 weeks, but I was so ready to go back at that point. But, I’m an extrovert who really is able to separate work life from home life pretty well (i.e., I knew I would be glad to see my daughter when I got home but would not spend the entire day at work missing her), so interacting with adults was extremely important for me. I think it would just be helpful to do a bit of self-reflection about what would work best for you, given your personality, regarding length of maternity leave.

      1. Perpal*

        Yeah with number 1 I was dying to get back to work at 6 weeks; I had a rotation that could effectively be part time which was nice.
        Number 2 I was more chill and went out with them more, out to parks, etc etc. And it was a lot more enjoyable and a little more reluctant to go back at 6 weeks (again, kind of a part time schedule – I second that that is nice when possible)
        For me at least I think I was so self-conscious and nervous about pissing off non-parents and breast feeding that I way over-cloistered myself at first. By number 2 I was over it and figured people at an outdoor park can just deal, and so on. And it was fine. So, it’s not really work advice, but general advice; try to enjoy the baby, by which I mean, try not to get too anxious about small things, go outside and have adventures with them, visit friends if they are welcoming, etc. Don’t try to stay at home with a baby all day every day!

  35. New Momma*

    Hello, new mom here who just went back to work! Not a single mom, but I do 98.5% of the child care.

    I would stay where you are for now. An amazing boss who already knows you as a worker is going to be more flexible when things come up — and they will! — than a new boss who doesn’t know you yet. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, but I still had to go to OB appointments every month, and then bi-weekly, and then weekly towards the end. I also ended up going on maternity leave a week before we had planned. I had no outstanding items when I came back because my team covered it all for me and my workplace is flexible on hours, so I was able to adjust mine to cover daycare drop-off and pick-up.

    I agree with other posters that emergency daycare situations are going to be your biggest consideration. Who is going to pick the baby up if they get sick at daycare? Or if they are sick and can’t go at all? Or if daycare has to close early (for whatever reason)? I got lucky and my mom is my backup.

    I am not in love with my job, and was job-hunting before we found out I was pregnant (hello, surprise!), but I couldn’t even imagine trying to start a new job at this time in our lives. I couldn’t handle uprooting my work life while my personal life was in such transition. My coworkers and boss know me, know what’s going on, and are understanding if I’m not at the top of my game for a while.

  36. Bend & Snap*

    I became a single parent when my daughter is 22 months. My best advice is to look as far ahead as you can in addition to worrying about the first year.

    Yes, you will be tired. Sometimes you’ll feel like you suck at both parenting and working. Sometimes you will be resentful of your work for encroaching upon your time with your child.

    You want to be as financially comfortable as possible not only for daycare but for extra help you might find you need–night nanny, housekeeper, that kind of thing. As a single parent, sometimes “throw money at it” is the best/only option. Plan on spending money for help unless you have an amazing support system.

    As for as motivation, that’s highly individual, but mine died when I had my daughter. I’m no longer gunning for a promotion as much as I am valuing flexibility and interesting work from 9-5, although my current role isn’t that predictable and it’s hard.

    So basically think about the personal time you spend on your job now and then imagine doing it while caring for another human who depends entirely on you.

    Single parenting is very rewarding but it’s not a cakewalk :)

    1. Working Single Mom*

      Yes! Hiring a housekeeper was so much more affordable than I thought it would be, and has made a huge impact on my mental health (and the cleanliness of my house, lol). I waited until she started public kindergarten and my childcare costs went way down, but honestly I probably could have done it sooner.

    2. Lucy*

      Sometimes you’ll feel like you suck at both parenting and working.

      Basically how it works is that you have to parent as if you didn’t have a job, and work as if you didn’t have a child.

  37. atalanta0jess*

    This is not a super PC thing to say, but it’s true: I was dumb as a rock while pregnant, and for a good six months afterwards. I would want to be somewhere where I had built up some capital to get me through that time, because I was not a good worker.

    1. Memory loss*

      I will second that I had no memory for 5 months or so after the baby was born about anything for work. I couldn’t recall things that I could recite word for word before I was pregnant. The baby was almost 3 months old when I noticed my husband was ordering all of our home supplies (toilet paper, detergent, diapers, etc) from amazon, and was having food delivered. I don’t know what I was thinking that the TP wasn’t running out or that I had a never ending supply of avocados that were not rotten even though I hadn’t been to the store since I had the baby.

    2. Nita*

      That is definitely a thing that happens! I thank my lucky stars that my dumbness was limited to the home. The exhaustion was bad though, I had a few weeks where I couldn’t work a single full day and went home early all the time. I’m glad I’d already worked at the same place for several years, so I wasn’t a new hire trying to prove I’m not always flaky like that.

    3. Ophelia*

      I had coffee with a co-worker recently (we both have little kids), and halfway through the conversation he looked at me and was like, “Woah, remember when we were…smart?” Honestly there’s something to be said for pregnancy and hormones, but also long-term sleep deprivation is no joke!

    4. Perpal*

      Oh yeah, such fatigue first trimester. All motivation gone. Wanting to sleep 12 hrs a day sometimes. Uhg.
      I felt like it got better the more unwieldy I got.

  38. LaDeeDa*

    What a nice letter “I have a great boss, short(ish) commute, I am almost a CPA, and I am going to have a baby!”
    I have no advice… just wanted to say I appreciate a positive letter and good luck to you!

  39. Jenn G*

    The best work preparation for having a baby is to build your reputation and reliability and get ahead on your work –and a reputation for it — as much as possible.

    As a CPA, I don’t know if you have peak periods (audits/end of year?) but that will inevitably be when your baby comes down with something awful. The best way to navigate this, because it probably will play out in a messy way, is to have a rock-solid reputation and NEVER, EVER procrastinate on anything essential – build in processes and education for your team members so that you are not gatekeeping any essential information or processes, make sure you are keeping people accountable to lead times so that you’re not having to pinch-hit at the last minute. Documentation is a huge part of this.

    It sounds to me like this would be easier in your current workplace, but if you looked for work with more of a team that might support that effort.

    Yes to all the daycare questions – sick care, have backup nannies, what happens if you have to stay late, etc. This is where I think I would have fallen apart without a partner, but I know women who do it every day.

  40. Anon for Now*

    I definitely echo others who suggest to stay where you are right now.

    The good will that has been built over at your current employer will be extraordinarily valuable. However, I’d also argue that you don’t necessarily know what you might need until after you become a parent. I think most parents find things like flexibility, etc., to be important. But, I also think getting a better idea of how much work you actually do in the evenings and on the weekends, what the pressure of your current job is like when parenting, and how opportunities open up or dry up after becoming a parent are important to assess.

    Basically, I would encourage you to be flexible. Because what you want or need will probably evolve.

  41. Agnodike*

    Nothing has so far made my parenting journey easier than money. Money is the most flexible way to smooth over the little bumps that happen in every parenting road; it doesn’t solve every problem, but it works for a lot, from “I can’t parent my kid AND do my job AND clean the toilets this week” to “Oh my God, why does my 18-month-old still not sleep through the night???” to “kid has a fever and can’t go to daycare, I can’t possibly take time off this week.”

    Were I contemplating single parenthood, money would be the first duck I would want to get in a row. A tight-but-doable budget is definitely not a contraindication to parenting, but a budget with ample room will make life so much easier, if that’s achievable.

  42. triplehiccup*

    Another childcare option to investigate – nanny shares. They are very popular in my area (DC/Baltimore) because of the affordability and flexibility. There are multiple Facebook groups for parents in this area and people often use them to find nanny share buddies.

  43. Roeslein*

    I am in awe of single parents. While I love being a mom, I can barely keep it together when my husband has to travel for work for a week. Still, here’s the one thing we had underestimated: Kids get sick. A lot, especially in the first couple of years (yes, even if you breastfeed them), and for several days at a time. (So do nannies, by the way.) Whatever your preferred childcare solution is, have back-up plans, and then more back-up plans. Also, I thought I would be ready to go back to work full-time at the 3 months point, but it turned that for me the sweet spot was around 4-5 months. By 6 months I couldn’t wait to be back in the office! And don’t listen to people telling you that your career will become less of a priority after baby arrives. I am on the other side now and can confirm that is sexist, socially constructed nonsense.

    1. Maya Elena*

      Socially constructed, temperamentally or biologically determined, it is a significant statistical probability that OP should reckon with.

      It’s like how all your parenting views change once you have your own unique genuine article in hand, with all of its idiosyncrasies, you also do not know yourself or how your priorities will alter once the baby is born.

  44. kasbah*

    CPA here with 2 kids under 3, two parent household with a spouse who has a rigid job with long, odd hours, leaving me with 99% of the parenting:

    I’d suggest staying where you are until you figure out what motherhood looks like for you and your little. I have a challenging career that I love and never thought that would change after having kids, but I was wrong. For me, I almost didn’t want to come back to work – which surprised me. I have had to make some big changes to my professional game during this season of life because of my demands outside the office. Staying at a job where I had already built a good reputation has been huge because it’s given me more flexibility and understanding than if I had started a new job sooner. Just my two cents.

    Good luck on your journey! Being a parent is the best. :)

  45. Anona*

    Good luck with your journey!

    I’m the mom of a 6 month old, and having a plan for what to do with daycare when baby is sick is huge. My job has a fair amount of sick time available that I can use, but I’ve been surprised how much I’ve needed to use it (my daycare requires that the kid be picked up within 1 hour if they have a fever or diarrhea, and then needs to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning). I started back to work 6 weeks ago and have been out of the office 6 days due to sickness (either mine or my baby’s). The daycare germs are real, especially for a tiny undeveloped immune system.

    Quality daycare has also been critical to my peace of mind. I miss my baby a ton (more than I thought I would!), but it helps knowing that she’s happy and well cared for. I have other mom friends who aren’t happy with their daycare (i.e. at pickup baby is alone, screaming, in a swing), and it makes it sooo hard for them to work. Maybe that means getting daycare closer to where you work (cheaper than the city?)?

    Good luck! Parenthood is a lot, but I love it. My bug has the best smile, and is pretty the awesomest bug around.

  46. TaxAnon*

    I’m a CPA, though not a single parent, so hopefully my perspective will be at least halfway relevant :)

    You asked whether you’ll lose your enjoyment of complex and interesting work because you’re too tired. Those first few months (or year) may be rough, but work is my escape. I love being able to immerse myself in complex work because then I’m not worrying or thinking about kid stuff.

    Working from home, if you have that ability, will likely be a mixed bag. If your infant is easy, it’s doable, but not so much if your infant is the type that needs to be held at all times, or screams constantly. Once they get a little older and need near-constant attention, it’s nearly impossible. Once they get to around school age, it becomes doable again.

    In terms of childcare, you’ll need backup plans for your backup plans. Do you have someone who can pick up your child from daycare if you have to work late? What if they’re sick/unavailable? Will you be able to stay home with your child every time they’re sick, or do you have family that can help with that?

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to push the boundaries of how much flexibility is okay, and kids tend to take up A LOT more time than you expect. This is where having a backup for your backup comes into play again. If you’ve already called in to work because your child is sick 3 days this week, and now they need to go to the doctor for a possible ear infection, plus your daycare isn’t working out and you need to interview a few new ones, and your child has that dentist appointment that you have to leave early for next week, plus you’re overdue for a checkup yourself….it adds up quickly.

    But, it’s all absolutely doable. Best of luck to you!

    1. Dee-Nice*

      I’m not a CPA, but my experience was similar to TaxAnon’s in that immersing myself in work was a huge escape. Nothing has ever seemed more complex or (initially) insurmountable to me than the first year of raising a child, and looking at an inbox full of SOLVABLE problems actually made a huge difference in my mood when I returned from maternity leave.

  47. Yulichka*

    Working married mom here.

    Do you travel for work? If so, who would watch the baby?

    Good daycare is expensive and has long waitlists. Apply now and figure out your budget, and what your daily schedule would have to look like.

    Figure out backup plans for if kiddo is sick, which will be a TON during the first year of daycare. You likely will not be able to work from home while caring for a sick baby.

    An understanding, supportive and flexible boss is worth his/her weight in gold. Even better if you have a flexible schedule where you can work from home. Working from home won’t mean much with a baby but becomes huge when your kid is in school.

  48. AKchic*

    Flexible childcare options in case option 1 is unavailable for the day (i.e., closes for a training day, or holiday, or a site emergency), or if your child has the sniffles but it’s not enough to warrant you staying home but the daycare won’t take them.

    Start looking for daycare as soon as you have it confirmed that you are pregnant. A lot of daycares have long waiting lists. Also, decide whether you want an in-home provider or a bigger facility. I always preferred the in-home care because it was more homey, and usually it was mothers who understood traffic and schedules and were okay with me being late once in a while.

    Even if you think you don’t qualify – check out all supplemental assistance programs and their requirements. You may qualify for reduced-cost daycare assistance, and WIC at the very least, without even realizing it.

    Cultivate friendships with other moms, whether they work or not. You will want the support system of others who know what you’re going through (even tangentially), and have kids near your own child’s age as potential playmates.

    You’re going to do great.

  49. JGray*

    First- congrats on your journey into parenthood. I have two children and honestly flexibility is going to be high on your list of what you want. The flexibility is not just getting time off for dr appointments but also can you work from home if your child is sick (& then makes you sick) or can you work an alternate schedule if your daycare is closed and you have to come in late- can you stay late?. I am married but my husbands job means he is out of town during the week- so I understand what it’s like to be the sole person taking care of your kids. I know it’s not the same because I do have my husband but I understand not having another person that is available all the time to coordinate things with (like who is picking up a sick child). I also wouldn’t be too quick to change jobs right now mostly because of health insurance and time off after birth. Health insurance has varied everywhere I have worked in little things like how one company covers something another covers another way. You also might have a bank of paid time off at your current job that you can use for anything pregnancy related that if you changed jobs you might not have.

  50. Det. Charles Boyle*

    That commute doesn’t sound too bad in the morning, but I’m not sure it’s doable in the afternoon. Could you flex your hours so you have a shorter commute after work? Or are you planning to choose a daycare that’s closer to work than home? It’s going to be tough spending so much time in the car with a baby and young child, either way. I would be thinking about finding a job closer to home (or moving to be closer to your job/daycare). It would be great if you were able to visit your baby during lunch once in a while. You can’t do that if you’re 30 – 60 minutes away. And, what if you’re sick and want to send the baby to daycare so you can sleep all day?
    Good luck!!!

  51. it_guy*

    Don’t make rush decisions! You have lots of time to think about this.

    Definitely check into working from home! A lot of places frown on working from home, because of a sick kiddo. They believe that you will spend more time taking care of the child than working. Having built up credibility you can address this should it ever come up.

    One thing to keep in mind is that you may eventually be moving to be in a better school district, so your job may be affected anyway.

  52. CupcakeCounter*

    My thoughts as a working parent (although I am not single my husband, while a great parent, works tons of hours and is on call constantly so he unfortunately cannot be relied on at all times):

    *stay at current job through your pregnancy and the baby’s first year or so. While I know CA is very employee rights friendly many employers still require you to be there for a year or so before FMLA kicks in. You will also want that flexibility you KNOW you have now later in the pregnancy and in the first few months.
    *add at least 25% to your expected costs in your budget – the little stinkers require a lot of diapers, you may have to supplement with formula, doctor copays and meds for non-well child visits, plus the increased insurance costs for having a +1
    *it sounds like you are planning to breastfeed and that it great. Formula is also great. Don’t push yourself too hard to do it one perfect way because life isn’t perfect. A friend only nursed in the morning and at bedtime after she went back to work and baby had formula during the day. He’s a wonderful, healthy child and she said it was much easier on her that way. She also appreciated those morning and evening moments much more. Whatever works best for you is what is best for your child.
    *I posted a reply to another comment but will restate it here. Look for childcare close to your work, not your home. That will give you a bit more flexibility to come in early/stay a little later since you won’t have to deal with commute issues before pickup (or at least fewer commute issues). Plus daycare in the burbs might be cheaper than downtown.
    *Look into moving closer to the office and the burbs as it could save a lot of money (and money is king with a kid)
    *accept help from friends and family

  53. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Arrange for at least two *LOCAL* emergency contacts for the child who you’ll authorize to pick up from after-care if you’re unavailable. A simple traffic accident can make you very late.
    Arrange with your daycare center that you will always call them if you’re going to be picking up the child later than normal and arrange how long after that they’ll call your emergency contact to pick up the child if you’re late and not answering your phone.
    Authorize at least two people to make medical decisions if you’re unavailable, and make sure they have a copy of the child’s current insurance coverage.
    And I hate to say it, but arrange for who will take care of the child if something happens to you — officially with legal papers, and update it when the child’s old enough to express likes or dislikes. In my case I have a spouse – but we do sometimes travel together. My brother & sisterinlaw were designated at birth — but by now my daughter is so attached to my brotherinlaw that we’re going to write the will to designate him.

  54. jbdesign*

    DO not leave your current job. I had premie twins and I am SO glad I was in an established job because of the craziness that ensued.

    Ditto the comment about not feeling bad with whatever method you choose to feed your baby. Because of supply issues/low birthweight (especially with pumping at work) I went with combo BF and formula and do not regret it. It can be highly stressful to be working/pumping (and I had a private office space).

    Also, the *minute* you feel confident you are pregnant, get on preferred daycare waiting lists. It can and probably will take a year or more to get in where you would like, so have some plan B options ready to go as you get closer to your due date.

    Good luck!

  55. Robin Bobbin*

    Two issues struck me about your situation. 1. distance from work and 2. childcare for a sick child.

    Spending an hour to an hour and a half a day is a lot when there is a baby at the other end. It stresses your time management in terms of being sure you can drop off/pick up on time (mentioned above), but it also time spent in the car vs. spent with the kiddo. Is it possible for you to move closer to work? If not, that’s a point for looking for a job closer to home.

    Child illness is the name of the game, especially for children in daycare. There’s this lovely thing called hand-foot-mouth disease, a virus that pretty much every kid in daycare gets sooner or later. It’s not unusual for a child to get it about once a year until they are 5 or so. It involves a fever, which may be high, and very uncomfortable sores in the mouth and an itchy rash. It’s very contagious, so your child will be out of daycare for around 5 days. This is in addition to all the other viruses that little ones get just because they do. Many children have issues with ear infections when they are small, and that is another thing that keeps them out of daycare. Is it possible for you to get a job that lets you work from home to cover illness days? Do you have a job that will allow you to take off a significant number of sick days? At the least you need to be able to care your little one without losing your job or getting an ulcer.

    My last thought is on breast feeding. Breast feeding is a good thing, but pumping is a pain. As a mom who found breast feeding to be easy breezy, I would be less enthusiastic about having to pump, especially after 6 weeks or so. Bottle feeding is not a sin.

  56. Matilda*

    Side note: the internet can be a rough and snarky place when it comes to discussions on parenting and working (especially working moms) and all of these comments have been so thoughtful and supportive, I think it may be my internet happy place for the day.

  57. Hallowflame*

    Ask your manager about working remotely, at least occasionally. It can be a HUGE help with the flexibility needed to balance work, parenting, and childcare.
    I’m not a parent, but I am the child of a single parent and I am an accountant who works with CPAs (congratulations!).
    One thing that held my mom back in promotions and raises for several years was her inability to stay late at work because of daycare pickup times. Her work was getting done, and it was done well, but her supervisors just didn’t like the optics. She eventually changed careers, got better supervisors, and I got old enough that her schedule didn’t have to revolve around me, so that story has a happy ending.
    But in accounting, especially as a CPA, there will be times when you have to put in extra hours. If you have the option available to work those extra hours from home after picking your child up from daycare, it can be a huge help. It’s also great for when you have to stay home when your child get’s sick.

    1. Nita*

      Agreed! There are not enough sick days at most companies to cover the time a kid needs to spend at home once they get exposed to child care germs. And they’ll give them to you. And once you get past that, it’s time for school, and then you realize school is closed an awful many days a year. Telecommuting definitely helps, although you will need at least part-time help to get a full day’s work done. I average 2-3 hours of good work if I’m working at home with a sick kid and no help… and it’s all done in bits and pieces.

  58. Harper the Other One*

    Not a single parent, but here are my two big tips:

    1) start living on whatever your income will be during your leave (or your reduced expenses if you’ll live off savings) now. Put all the difference in a savings account. You’ll be able to buy baby stuff and have extra money for the occasional delivery meal/extra babysitter/house cleaning/whatever, and you’ll be used to the income adjustment BEFORE it’s “live smaller or go into debt.”

    2) have LOTS of backup plans. In addition to your regular care, you need to know multiple possible emergency solutions for when baby is sick/daycare is closed/bad weather strikes/whatever. The more plans you have in place ahead of time, the less likely it is that a sick baby will throw everything out of whack.

    Good luck, OP!

  59. PhyllisB*

    Seconding everything Matilda said, especially waiting a year after mat. leave to make any decisions. You have a lot of positives going for you now: flexible schedule if needed, supportive boss, interesting work. The only two downsides I see are the commute and the pay. Neither are unimportant, but I think the other positives outweigh these. I also agree that finding daycare closer to your place of employment would be a good thing. Also check the late pick-up policy. I had my children in the eighties, and the late policy was $5.00 for every minute late. Ouch. Luckily I had family support, but one time I was in a bind and ended up having to fork over $150.00. Not that they didn’t deserve it, but still…as I said, this was the eighties, so it may be a lot more now.

  60. Scrumtrillescent*

    I’m a single mom of 5 kids and I work full time. I’ve been single for about six years. I worked a very demanding retail job at the Genius Bar of an Apple Store for most of my single-parenthood, but in late 2017 I got a job in government finance. The best part of my career change is that I’m on a government schedule now, so holidays like Presidents Day or MLK Day don’t sneak up on me like they did in retail, where I’d realize in a panicky flush of cold sweat that day care would be closed on Monday and I hadn’t requested it off.

    At my current job, we get off at 5 and everybody goes home then. At my former job, there was an expectation that you stay as long as your last customer needs you. I was in the minority as far as people who have kids, even moreso that I was a single parent, and I had to walk out the door at a certain time to make it to day care before they closed and began charging me $1 per minute per kid. I also couldn’t work nights, I reserved one weekend day to spend with my kids. This kept me from being promoted and, I think, gave the impression that I was less committed to my job than other people. (When, you could just as easily read the situation as my being even MORE invested in my job, because I have five children dependent upon me.) I was always under a dark, stressful cloud of dread, wondering if I would be let go. I had five or six managers, they were all married and had kids. Most of them were men. Many of them had wives who stayed home with the kids. No single parents. They struggled to understand where I was coming from. I missed a lot of work. (Of course I did, I had six people’s health to consider instead of just one.) I had a manager recommend that I pay a nanny to come watch my kids on the days they were sick. On my retail salary, I would be paying more for a nanny than I would make in my shift that day. It was difficult and I always felt like my supervisors were disappointed in me.

    That type of work was pretty complex, diagnosing issues with people’s devices, explaining technology to people who don’t understand it, and working with many, MANY angry people-and it was our responsibility to diffuse the tension. I went to work within days of giving birth and was fine. (But we were also desperate, I’d been unemployed for about six weeks when I got my job with Apple. I needed to work.) I’ve worked during the newborn phase, I’ve worked after being hit by a car while crossing the street…you just do what you have to do. Survival mode isn’t fun, and is pretty stressful (and maybe taking years off my life!) so if you’re able to build in some supports for yourself in advance, I think that would benefit you.

    Some questions to ask yourself: Who will keep your baby when it gets sick? What time does day care close? If you have to walk out the door at work on the dot, will it change how you’re perceived? What is your support system like? Are you happy with the school district where you live? Who will take your kid to the doctor, the dentist, the eye doctor? How is your health insurance? Will your work support your participation in your kid’s activities? (School awards, plays, sports?) Are you religious? If you’re not, how will you build a community around your child? (I’m not religious. I have many lovely friends but very few of them have kids. But they help me wherever they can.)

    Having a boss who has been a single parent can be a huge benefit, because they could have a better understanding of your situation than someone who has no experience with it. However, I have seen people draw comparisons to how THEY worked as single parents and express their frustration that other people miss more work or have to leave earlier more often. Also, your boss could get promoted, leave the company…who knows.

    When I took this job, I shared in my interview that I was a single mom of 5 kids with very little outside support. I know that legally, I didn’t have to do that. But I know that this is a huge factor in my performance as an employee. I was told that where I work is “family first” and I could bring my kids to work if they were sick but not contagious, that I could work through my lunches to earn comp time to cover when I have to take them to the dr. or the dentist. My direct supervisor was pregnant with her second child when she hired me. She left the company 4 months later. I then found out that we are NOT allowed to bring our kids to work (something I’d already done twice) and that they discourage use of sick time (I’ve been written up once and have run out of sick time twice…once when my daughter was hospitalized and once when I was hospitalized.). I don’t feel like I can take time off for “extra” things, like when my daughter won an award (And that award was to have her parent come eat lunch with her on the stage in the cafeteria) (There are VERY MANY tone-deaf to a working parent things that are put on by the school.), I couldn’t go. I can’t help with class parties or field trips or career day. My kids have to go to day care after school, so they can’t participate in after school activities, like the running club or the spring musical or whatever. They used to go to karate next door to my job but they moved the start time up 30 minutes and now I don’t get off early enough to get them there in time for class. So after 10 months, we’ve had to give up karate. I don’t have anyone who can pick them up and bring them to me.

    Clearly, my situation is much different from your own. Hopefully you have a really strong support system. I feel like my post sounds more negative than I meant for it to. Being a single parent is hard, particularly without the support system of your extended family or a religious community. I don’t regret it. We are making it work. But I have had to give up on SO MUCH of the parent I wanted to be (present for awards, there every time they’re sick) due to being trapped in survival mode. There are definitely ways to make being a working single parent “work,” for me, it required a major adjustment of the kind of parent I hoped I’d be.

    1. Thursday Next*

      You are the kind of parent your children need, and are lucky to have. I cannot imagine the resourcefulness and sacrifice necessary to make your situation work. You are clearly managing a tough situation successfully.

      1. Scrumtrillescent*

        Thank you. I am really moved by what you wrote. I wish I could be there more for them than I am.

        1. Working Single Mom*

          They see all you’re doing to help them have the best life possible, even if you can’t be at every assembly. They may not quite get it when they’re young, but they’ll never forget it when they’re older. Lots of love to you.

    2. Maya Elena*

      Oh wow – five! That sounds really hard, and I have tons of respect for families with many children. If you don’t mind sharing what is the age spread? Did you have any extended family support?

      1. Scrumtrillescent*

        I don’t mind sharing. They are 17, 11, 9, 8, and 6. My oldest has high functioning autism.

        I do have some family support. My parents are both local (divorced and remarried to other people) but they both still work full time and will not use their sick time to cover me. When I was working retail, my mom would keep the kids one Saturday a month. Their dad is still around but he will go through long periods of not taking his weekends with them. He lives with his parents and they are elderly and sometimes they can’t handle the kids being in their house. (Their dad works weekends and never bothered to make any child care arrangements and just started leaving the kids with his parents.) Two of my grandparents are living but each lives over 300 miles away. One is blind. I have a good group of friends who help whenever they can. (Most of them are still at Apple, so their availability is limited.) I was hospitalized last weekend and my mom took two of the kids, my friend took two of the kids, and my son went to his dad’s. Three friends came to the hospital and sat with me when they could.

        Some days, it feels like the Herculean efforts it takes to keep us functional mean that I’m burning brighter but will burn out sooner. I hope we edge a bit more past survival mode.

    3. Samwise*

      OMG, you are a HERO! Wow! I hope you can get out of survival mode, for *you*. It sounds to me like you’re a great parent and your kids are just fine.

  61. ClumsyCharisma*

    I’m not a single parent but I think the most important job benefit at the moment is flexibility. My boss doesn’t bat an eye if I need to be out for the kids.
    Even if your kid is not sick there are many well child check-ups the first 2 years of their lives. Then you have to account for sick days on top of that.
    Do you have a support system outside of your home? Family, friends, stay-at-home moms you know that can act as backup sitters when needed?
    I would say if you know your boss and company are supportive of moms that is worth it’s weight in gold.
    I had a tough 1st pregnancy and maternity leave. I cannot imagine trying to deal with a new job on top of pregnancy sickness and fatigue and newborn fatigue. My 2nd pregnancy and maternity leave were much easier but it’s still hard.
    Best of luck to you in your journey!

  62. Friday*

    Oh this is timely. I’m currently home with my 14mo as he decided to start throwing up last night. I also have a first grader and a husband cpa. Honestly Op, don’t change your job yet. Stay put through the toddler years if you can. Having backup help is critical… husband and I live far away from family and this morning was a “whose work is more important today” pissing contest and I lost – you only have yourself to play this game with.

    Ironically I work with a ton of other parents of small kids but the glaring difference is they all have grandparents in town to take the kids when sick or when needing to work late, etc. I know that it has impacted me professionally at my job when I’ve had to leave work to get kid(s) on time when my husband can’t and when I’ve had to stay home in the past because of daycare closures. Ironically I’ve always split this 50/50 with cpa husband but he works somewhere that Gets It. And that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

    Best of luck to you! It is worth it, I swear. :)

  63. Mayor of Llamatown*

    I do have a partner, but we are expecting our first child later this year and all of these details have been soooo helpful to know when we consider daycare and work schedules. Thank you to everyone who has shared!

  64. Rusty Shackelford*

    You’ve got SO MANY positives on your side right now. If I were in your shoes – and I’m a naturally cautious person – I’d stay where I was for now. That first year is going to involve so much upheaval, and right now it looks like you’re in a good place to handle that. I think that for you, right now, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  65. Marzipan*

    I have been attempting to get knocked up as a single woman for, like, four or five years at this point. So I don’t have much to add about how that would work if/when you get there, but I’ve definitely thought about a lot of this stuff.
    I do think there’s a lot to be said for having built up goodwill in your current job. I’m in the UK, so I don’t have to worry about healthcare and maternity leave in quite the same way as you may have to, but it’s definitely good that my workplace offers great maternity leave (and I could even access paid time off for fertility treatments). But even on just a human level, having people know you’re a solid employee is really helpful if you ever have any little blips due to treatment or pregnancy.
    The other thing, though, is not to put your life totally on hold against the possibility of pregnancy. It might not happen on the timescale you’re hoping for. So, I definitely think that if things come up that you’d otherwise very much want to do (whether in your work life or your life in general), you should seriously consider doing them anyway.

  66. swingbattabatta*

    Speaking as someone who has had my child both in a large daycare center and a nanny-share situation, here are my two cents – while the nannyshare was great for more individualized attention (my daughter really formed a bond with the nanny and the other child), it actually made things much more difficult in terms of consistency and planning. Nannies are people, they have things in their lives that they need to deal with (doctor’s appts, sick children of their own, sick days, vacation, etc), and when those things happen there is no backup childcare. Whereas at a daycare center, we know that barring a center-wide closure, they will have coverage for us. Also, one thing that made my life immeasurably easier was that the daycare center feeds my kid (and oh man she eats so much better with the peer pressure of other kids eating), versus having to prepare varied and healthy meals every day for the nanny-share.

    Daycare certainly can cost more, and we are very lucky to be able to afford our center, but it has been a lot easier on us in terms of planning, consistency, and knowing that I can rely on the center to always be open and staffed.

    1. this way, that way*

      The daycare is great unless your kid is a fever kid, If you kid runs a fever they cant stay at daycare and you still pay for that day. Our first was always running a fever and had a snotty nose, we had to go the nanny route because we were paying for daycare and having to take off work too much.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Oh, the providing food part is a great detail. That’s something to ask about when you are looking at daycares. What food do they provide? Ours does breakfast, lunch, and snack. When he was a baby, they provided baby food fruits and vegetables, if you wanted them to have meats you had to provide it. Also, if you plan to breast feed, confirm that they are BF friendly. Most are, but not all.

  67. Anonynonymouse*

    I did a quick search and don’t see these mentioned.

    If you have been at your job in CA at least 1 year, I would NOT change if there’s any chance you could give birth before hitting the 1 year mark at a new company, assuming your current one has at least 50 employees.

    As a childbearing woman in CA, if you get pregnant, you could be entitled to:
    Up to 4 weeks (unpaid but protected) leave under CA Pregnancy Disability Leave;
    Up to 12 weeks (unpaid but protected) leave under FMLA (this will run concurrent with CA PDL and CFRA, below);
    Up to 12 weeks (unpaid but protected) leave under CA Family Rights Act (begins after CA PDL, runs concurrent with remaining FMLA)

    This is in addition to Disability and Paid Family Leave benefits through the state.

    (I do leave administration for all of our CA locations, I work with this on an almost daily basis.)

    Once you have the baby, you can use your Sick time (mandated by state law; some localities have additional provisions) for doctor appointments, and there is up to 1 week per year of protected leave for school-related activities.

    As for the other questions: it’s going to vary from person to person. My “single Parenthood” is unique, so the real concern I have for you is the protections during pregnancy and right after childbirth.

    Good luck!

  68. R.E.*

    There are various groups for “single parents by choice” – “single moms by choice,” “queer single parents by choice,” etc. You might be able to find one locally where you could meet up with others who are “trying to conceive” (TTC) and/or are already single parents. This can be a great resource! There are also online communities. There are many folks out there doing this, including myself.
    It’s hard, but it’s also amazing.

  69. PlainJane*

    My guess on the first one is that, given his stellar performance, he’d been hoping that the meeting was to offer him full time work instead of a part-time raise.

  70. CL*

    Your job sounds very good and very likely a good fit. As a working parent of two toddlers, here are the things that stood out to me as the biggest issues or “wish I had known”:
    1. Sick leave: Kids get sick. A lot. Especially little ones. My daughter is 4 yo and is less likely to get hit hard with a minor cold (now), while my 2 yo son is down and out. And then once they’re healthy, the parent gets sick. Does your work provide a decent sick leave balance? Is the culture accepting of the ebbs and flows of calling out sick due to child or parent illness? Or do you have solid backup childcare?
    2. Fun activities: Depending on your childcare choice, there may be fun activities you want to participate in (whether through a daycare or community). Do you have leave balances or flexibility for these activities? Holiday fun or programs, field trips, etc. Personally, I struggle with working parent guilt and being able to participate in these activities helps me feel more connected to my children and their daytime.
    3. Feeding baby: Do what works for you and baby. I pumped for over a year with both my kids (my daughter didn’t breastfeed but I still pumped, my son did breastfeed). I had two separate employers for each pregnancy and in both, I had my own office and access to a fridge and sink. Pumping was a nonissue. It probably annoyed me more than anyone else. I think because I approached it as a normalcy, everyone else around me had the same attitude (or they knew to keep their mouths shut ;)). I would lock my office door and put up a sign. I used the employee lounge sink for washing parts and fridge for storing the milk. If you happen to run into resistance, you have the law on your side.

  71. always in email jail*

    I would advise trying to stay where you are for a bit. A new baby is a lot of doctor’s appointments, a lot of sick days (daycare will make you keep them home for 24 hours AFTER SYMPTOMS END, so multiple days each illness), etc. You’ll need to ride on your good reputation at your current job for a while. You’re going to be frazzled and missing a lot of days, and your current job will be way more understanding than one where you’re brand new and they don’t know you. Also, you might have standing to ask for altered work hours, for example. I prefer to drop off my child as early as possible so I can pick up a bit earlier and actually SEE her in the evening.
    Some advice on selecting a daycare as a single parent (outside of the obvious stuff):
    -Hours. Try to find one that is 6am-6pm, or 6:30 am-6:30 pm. Even if you won’t be using them 12 hours a day, it is very helpful to have the option to do early drop off or later-than-usual pickup. It goes a long way for your reputation in the workplace if you don’t have to run out the door at 4:30 every day and can occasionally stay a bit later than scheduled when needed
    -Weather Policy. Ask about their weather closure policy. Make sure it’s reasonable for your area (for example, delaying or closing whenever public schools do probably will not be sustainable)
    -Have redundancies in place. I had a 40-minute commute in my last job, and I found a daycare by my office that allowed for drop-ins. In general it was much more convenient to have a daycare by my house (I did not consistently start and end my day at my actual office) but it had its uses as a backup. Their weather closure policy was not as strict as my primary daycare, so sometimes this was necessary. Also, because of the length of my commute, there were rare occasions where the proximity came in handy (say I had to be at work at 6:30 for a special reason, I could drop off at 6:15 right by work, rather than drop off at 6:15 by my house then commute 40 minutes and be late…). This was disruptive to my child’s routine, but less disruptive than losing my job, so you have to do what you have to do.

    Good Luck!

  72. Noah*

    Some considerations:

    1. Flexibility is really important as a parent, even a non-single parent.

    2. Your commute is hurting your flexibility, but otherwise your work flexibility sounds pretty awesome.

    3. You may decide not to stay downtown at some point after baby arrives, so don’t overvalue the first part of #2.

    4. Unless you are independently wealthy, I assume you could use more money because an accountant is often barely a middle class job in big California cities, where you appear to live, and kids cost a fortune. That’s probably a point for a new job once you have your license.

    5. It is difficult to do a lot of major life changes at once. Consider that when taking a new job.

    6. Can your recruiter find you a job with better paid family leave? That might be a reason to move.

  73. Nita*

    Do you regularly work overtime now? If you do, that will likely be a problem with day care pickups, and the lack of extra time to finish work may snowball. I had to adjust to the idea that working a couple 12-hour days to make sure I meet a deadline are over – I need to plan very far ahead, or be ready to not meet the deadline, or start saying no to new work when it starts piling up. Maybe having a nanny would have been the answer. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are definite upsides to having a nanny vs daycare if you don’t have help nearby, and if your finances allow it.

  74. Elder Care*

    Not a parent, but taking care of an elder parent. If you can pay your bills with your current job, STAY. Not only does a good boss matter, but you have years of built up credibility with the organization. If you have to run out for mid-day drs appointments, sick daycare pick ups, etc. you don’t run the risk of having a new employer question your abilities, commitment, etc.

  75. Sam*

    Daycare is your biggest issue – get on waitlists now, and confirm their tuition so you know whether your budget is accurate. We paid nearly 30K a year in infant care for less than a full time work week. We had planned to essentially exchange a salary for day care which is not an option for you! Wait lists were 2-3 years long in my city, which I did not expect. And here they actually won’t put us on until I am pregnant so for your first kid a nanny may be your only option. Because of licensing changes cost does get more reasonable after age 2 so it’s actually a pretty short period of time that it’s so so so expensive.

    Then get 3-4 confirmed back-up sitters or friends or whatever and plan for monthly interruptions to the standard daycare plan, so add that into your budget too.

    Don’t change your job (unless you can’t afford daycare) because flexibility and good will from your boss will be extremely important. And don’t burn all your sick and vacation days during your leave because you’ll need them almost more when you go back – you and your baby will be sick all.the.time. Good luck! I loved that first 18 months (toddler age is killing me now though lol) so was blissfully happy even with no sleep, constant sickness and maybe 50% functional at work, but it was hard with a partner and I have tons of respect for people who undertake this on their own!

  76. Going anon way*

    Expect the unexpected. I was a single mom and had a very stressful job (law office support) and often had to work overtime, sometimes overnight, and had nobody to watch my child so I had to bring him to work. For one overnighter I schlepped in a small tv and Nintendo and set him up in the conference room. I often had to bring him to work with me on the weekends. One day he was hitting a crumpled up ball of paper with a ruler, and hit the managing partner in the head. I was sure my days were numbered. I didn’t have a family to provide support, or a steady babysitter situation. I remember once his teacher called me at work to tell me he was misbehaving in class and I told her (I was having a bad day) that I didn’t call her when he wouldn’t take out the garbage and she should deal with it. I’m so not proud of that. I think I’m going anonymous for this one, I don’t want to get slammed under my own handle. It was very stressful but I don’t for one minute regret my decision to be a single mom. My kid turned out great.

    1. Rocky*

      You sound like a terrific parent! And I hear you on the teacher calling to complain about the child’s behaviour. If I get an email like that I probably open it at 9.30pm. What am I going to do about his behaviour then?

  77. Pinky Pie*

    What would I want if I were to be a single mom?
    Flexibility, ability to work from home as need be. A sitter, a back up sitter, and a back up to the backup.

    I’d go with a an inhome sitter for the first year but those come with limitations (When she’s closed you are SOL.) Transfer to a center at 18 months, as the immune system gets better.

  78. Book Lover*

    I was fortunate to get pregnant quickly twice, but there were still a lot of appointments, both with the reproductive endocrinologist and then after the pregnancy with the ob. Personally, I think staying with a boss that you like and that knows you has a lot of value when it comes to needing time for those appointments and flexibility in general. It is hard to start a new job and then need time off for a lot of appointments.

    After the baby – having a private room, access to a fridge (or just bringing in ice packs for the bottles) is good enough for pumping, but I’d agree with upthread – I drove myself insane pumping enough for baby 1 (fortunately it was comparatively easy for baby 2) and wish I had switched to formula feeding in part, though we ended up with a wonderful breast feeding relationship. So think about whether pumping makes sense for you depending on your supply.

    Having a new job is also hard when you are tired and your boss doesn’t know you…. My first didn’t sleep ‘through the night’ (until 3 am) until he was almost a year old and I was constantly exhausted. Assuming you don’t have funds for a night nanny, that is something to plan for.

    Then there are the constant illnesses – both you and baby – once the baby is in childcare. Having options for care for the baby at home (babysitter, family, whatever) or having a very generous sick leave policy is important.

    I have family in the area and a very good salary, but there was still a lot of stress and worry the first couple of years with the first baby. And some worries that I had made the wrong decision in terms of the difficulty of juggling two kids and just being one parent some years later. I have zero regrets, but I made my life easier in a lot of ways by paying for help.
    Your salary and cost of living make a difference. I still pay a massive amount yearly (as much as some people make in a year) in childcare, even as my kids are getting older, and don’t see that changing in the near future – I have to pay for camp for each vacation, for example.

  79. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    Single mom by choice here. Made a plan A, plan B, plan C … You just don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s helpful to at least have a “back of the envelope” strategy for the various scenarios.

    Build your support network. Have the back ups to the back ups.

    And also. You’ve got this, babe. You’re doing this with purpose and planning, which is a lot better than lots of folks who obtain children (or lose partners or partner support) more haphazardly.

    And if you have career choices you can make for flexibility of time and place of work, that’s awesome, but not necessary. People do this.

  80. Your friendly neighbourhood EA*

    Working single mother in Canada here; the comments already touch on most of the things you’d want to consider, with great advice. I’d just like to emphasize the importance of a support system for emotional (kids are amazing but also stressful), physical (daycare pick-up, you might get sick!, etc), and mental support (someone to talk to about non-baby and non-work stuff is always nice).

    The other practical advice? Get ready to do anything important to you that requires leaving your house during your lunch breaks. For example, my workouts have become much more efficient.

    Oh, and on a job front – from my experience and the intercompany grapevine, the major accounting firms are largely embracing flexible work principles. Incredibly helpful.

  81. Ginger Sheep*

    I have been a single mom since my daughter was six weeks old, and she is now five, so I have some first-hand experience of your situation. A few points, in no specific order :
    – Flexibility. I’ve had two jobs during this period, one lower-paying and very flexible, one higher-paying and less flexible. I found the flexibility and occasional possibility of working from home, for instance when she was sick, way more important to my sanity and stress levels than the salary difference. I am currently in the less-flexible job and actively searching for one similar to the one I had previously.
    – Leaving your baby. People all will tell you that it will be so difficult for you to leave your baby, and that you will be so sad, and that it is so terrible that you can’t stop working. Maybe it will be the case. But what most people don’t realise is that when you are a single parent solely responsible for the kid and do not get help with anything at all ever at home, it is so nice to have someone else (the daycare) take charge for a while, and to be able to speak to adults, and have a moment of reprieve. Honestly, my job saved my sanity when my daughter was a baby – I was actually so happy to return to work after my maternity leave (not in the States, so I got three months). And I really, really love my daughter! But taking care of a baby 24/7 with no other adult at home ever is so taxing that I wouldn’t have been able to do it, I think, even if it had been financially possible.
    – Breastfeeding. I did not breastfeed. I had the perfect excuse : the shock of being left by my husband of ten years for another women the month my first child was born was enough to cut off my milk, and anyone who tried to shame me about my giving formula would back off very quickly when they heard the situation. Still. Silver linings : I really appreciated not having to pump. It saved me time and stress, two things I really needed. Formula was so easy! My daughter liked it so much! She finally started to gain weight and slept so much better! If I ever have a second child, I know I will stop breastfeeding as soon as I start working again.
    This is long enough so that’s all for now, but I probably have other stuff to share about being the single parent of a newborn.

    1. Ginger Sheep*

      Another thing: the daycare center I had was way more reliable than the nanny. I only had a nanny for a couple of months till my daycare spot opened up, but even during that short period, she got sick, so I had to take to baby to work with me, and she was less flexible on occasional early drop-offs or late pick-ups than the daycare. Maybe it just wasn’t the right person, and my daycare was really great, but I’d go for an organisation as it is less likely to have emergencies than an individual.

    2. R.D.*

      Re: leaving the baby – I’ve had one or two friends who were devastated to leave the baby, but that was not my experience, nor the experience of *most* of my friends.

      For a while there, Mondays were my favorite. I’d arrive at work and know that no one would cry, or snot on me, or lie on the floor for 20 minutes because they don’t like the way their sandwich was cut up, or throw a fit because they want to wear their dump truck shirt, when they do not and have never owned a shirt with a dump truck on it. I love toddlers and I’m not a single mother, but it was still a huge relief to not have that for 40 hours a week.

  82. m*

    I want to provide the opposite advice about getting a new job while pregnant–I did it and a close coworker did as well and it was the BEST decision I could have ever made! I moved to a new job in a city closer to family when I was 5 months pregnant. I was lucky to be able to burn the midnight oil during the few months before I went on leave and was amazed by how much goodwill and relationship building I was able to build up during the short period. Being in new job that I was passionate about made it so much easier to come back to work.

    Other thoughts:
    -Build up a babysitter network ASAP — also good for your mental health to get away from baby early, even for just an hour or two! If you have NextDoor in your area, that’s a great resource.
    -Also find backup care options — is there a local service you can use for last minute care? Even if you have a flexible WFH policy, there will be a day when you HAVE to go into work and your kid is too sick for daycare.
    -Flexible/understanding workplace. This was a huge factor for me switching jobs. In my old world, I would have been the first working mother. It would have been fine, but I love that I am surrounded by working parents in my current job and have built up a wonderful support network personally and professionally. Everyone ACTUALLY understands the challenges that come with kids and working from home with a sick kid is not a big deal.

    And don’t let people freak you out about daycare waitlists–you can always stretch the budget and have a nanny for a few months right when you get back to work and switch to daycare when you get a spot!

    1. Going anon way*

      you can always stretch the budget and have a nanny for a few months

      This depends on your income. As a single mom I made a decent salary but no way was there any money for a nanny! It was day care, period. “Stretching the budget” — my choices to eliminate would have been electricity, food, rent. I wish I could have afforded in-home help.

  83. SemiRetired*

    Since you are asking specifically about work arrangements, and you mention anticipating the need to pump while in the breastfeeding stage, I’ll offer the advice to find a daycare near your work, or a job near your daycare, or even better, a job with on premises daycare. With a nearby arrangement and a flexible schedule, you can visit your baby when it’s time to nurse.
    It’s great the workplaces now provide accommodations for pumping, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them. I worked full time from 8 weeks after birth, nursed for about a year and a half, and never pumped at work. (Back in the 80s… don’t think I ever even thought about trying to pump at work)
    Breastfeeding strategy may change from what you anticipate. But being geographically closer to your baby has many advantages and I would highly recommend it. (Later, when child is talking, it’s also nice to have a commute together instead of extra hours in daycare for your commute time.)
    Also a possibility… working from home, with an in-house nanny who brings you baby at feeding time.

  84. Ice and Indigo*

    Okay, I’m going to say a couple of things that are more about what you do outside the office, but if they go wrong, the best office in the world will still be a tough place, so bear with me.

    1. Find a birth partner – someone you can trust absolutely, and who has no problem being assertive on your behalf if the situation calls for it. Maybe even a team who’ll support you in shifts, if you can’t find one person who’ll stay with you round the clock for days if that’s what’s required. Births are unpredictable, and it’s also hard to predict how you’ll react at the time; if things go wrong, it’s incredibly important to have an advocate by your side, as you may not be in a good position to advocate for yourself, even if you’re good at it under normal circumstances. Medical staff can be case-hardened and really **** up on the care aspect, and that can do serious things to your mental health. Postnatal PTSD is an under-recognised condition, and trust me, you don’t want it, for lots of reasons, career reasons included.

    I’m sorry if this sounds alarmist, but if someone had warned me about this before it happened, I’d be so much better off than I am now.

    2. Again, this actually does affect your career, so bear with me: when it comes to choosing a sperm donor, be careful of the fascinating eccentric genius type. It sounds like a way to get a clever baby, but it can be a way to get a baby with special needs; ‘genius’ genes can produce complications in the next generation. This isn’t personal experience, but it did happen to someone I know. I have a kid with special needs myself (though not through sperm donation), and I volunteer with special needs kids, so this is not saying they shouldn’t exist or anything; I love special needs kids. But being realistic, your career will be less disrupted if your child’s needs are in the average range, and for that, your best chance is to go for a sperm donor whose main quality is being typical and stable rather than exceptional. There are no guarantees, but if you’re taking on the challenge – and good luck! – you may as well try to stack the odds in favour of lower needs.

    1. I'm just here for the comments*

      A birth doula may be a great resource to have if you can afford it and no one else is around to help advocate and care for you during birth. Also, I’ve heard that doula services will also come to your house following birth to help you transition into parenthood for the first couple of weeks (this may not be true for all, but it’s worth researching).

      1. Working Single Mom*

        My mom was my birth partner, and she was great. She went to the prenatal class that the hospital put on with me, advocated for me in the delivery room, and just was great support in general. Although she did make several jokes that I “wasn’t in enough pain” because I had an epidural and she didn’t with me. She also stayed at my house with me for the first week or so post-birth to help care for my daughter so I could recover physically from delivery. One of my friends gave her a break for a night in the middle.

      2. Ice and Indigo*

        Check she isn’t attached to any particular vision of childbirth, though. And that she’s well-versed about atypical symptoms; some birth attendants ignore you if you report experiences that they haven’t encountered before or don’t believe in.

        A doula might be a good addition, but don’t go in without someone who loves you more than they love birth, is all I’m saying.

  85. Public Health Nerd*

    My super amazing mentor did this, and her kid is now a high schooler. I was part of Team Kiddo when he was little. Here’s what she did that worked that hasn’t been mentioned already:

    – Assembled a team of folks who lived nearish to work or home who were different ages. So there were some who were younger, some retire, some working with no kids, some working with kids. It helped to have people who weren’t all in the same stage of life – so if the retirees weren’t in town, the younger crowd was available to pick up a stray nanny shift for money. A number of us were on the daycare pickup list and had safe cars.

    – Used working at home to make pick up timing work for her. She usually does some remote work at 5 a before kid gets up, and maybe logs some time after he goes to bed. It balances out the times when she’s doing kid soccer practice/doctor visits/etc.

    – Accepted work projects that worked for her family. She did do some work travel but would limit it to when Team Kiddo could do the overnight care. She wouldn’t accept work that required call shifts. She was pretty open about what would/wouldn’t work for her, and chosento stay with a group that was accommodating enough for her needs.


  86. Anon for this*

    Supportive boss and office cannot be underestimated. I was a single mom for about a year — my husband cheated and left for that year — we had an informal co-parenting arrangement but in fact I did most of the childcare, our elementary school aged child was on chemo and in and out of school and in and out of the ER, I had just gotten a promotion. Two things made it bearable: my incredible friends and my supportive boss and grand-boss. (And quality health insurance.) For a time, if I had been the supervisor, I would have fired me. But they worked with me and I got through it.

    My commute was really short, however — that extra 60 – 90 minutes a day you have is going to be hard. If you can get a shorter commute and a supportive boss, that could be worth it. The commute is costly in money terms too — gas, wear and tear on the car, possibly more being paid for childcare because your child will be there longer. Childcare does get less expensive once you’re past the infant stage. Also keep in mind that you will likely use more PTO — kids get sick! you will get sick too.

    Work out a childcare-share with friends or other parents — say, once a month you take little Suzy for two hours, once a month Suzy’s folks take your baby for two hours, that kind of thing. If you can swing it, hire a high school or college kid to come for a couple of hours while you are at home to do child care while you take a nap or kick back and read trashy novels…

    Good luck! You can do it, and even the really hard parts are ok!

  87. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    One perspective I haven’t seen pop up here in the comments–keep in mind that it may take a while to become pregnant, and especially as a single parent by choice, it can get expensive and emotionally exhausting. Hopefully you’ll get pregnant as soon as you start trying, but keep in mind your long term career goals and don’t put them all on hold thinking “but I’ll be pregnant soon so I don’t want to make any career changes”. It sounds like you have a great set up now and I definitely wouldn’t leave immediately for all the reasons others have stated, but don’t close yourself off to advancement opportunities while you are trying to get pregnant. It could take a while. Good luck!!

  88. And Also*

    Had to move for partner’s job and took new job when pregnant with my 2nd.

    I think you said commute was 25 min. That’s nothing in many parts of CA. And, if you commute by private car, pumping while driving is an option. :)

    If you think you’ll be pregnant in the next 1 – 1.5 years, stay. All of the reasons others said above, plus

    1. Manager! The value of a manager who is family oriented and a good person is so huge.
    Bonus points for people who ‘get’ it – I.e. Anyone who was a working mom of infant or who was really involved with a working partner and child during early days. Gender of manager isn’t as important here as sleepless nights, knowing that it’s hard, understanding that it is worth it, and being aware of the fact that while you may have a few months of reduced productivity, you’ll come out the other side, same as anyone else with a major life event.

    2. You’ve likely built up vacation/sick time at current job. Pre-kids I was a push the rollover limit/ cash out kind of person. Not anymore.

  89. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    See if your community has a local parents mailing list or Facebook group. Mine has an AMAZING Yahoo group where people post about daycare openings, kid-friendly events, and best of all, baby/kid stuff they are selling and giving away. For free or under $20, I’ve gotten a stroller, a high chair, a changing table, a pack-and-play, a travel high chair, a spare car seat, a baby swing, a scooter, a backyard climbing structure, a water/sand table, cloth diapers, and countless toys. And almost as good, I’ve been able to quickly give away the stuff my daughter had outgrown so it wasn’t cluttering up my house! Between that and having a friend whose daughter is about a year older than mine (and so a perpetual pipeline of hand-me-down clothes), I’ve saved probably thousands of dollars compared to what I would have spent buying all that stuff new.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      YES. I found out about my wonderful daycare provider from a local group, and she was more wonderful than I can describe. Finding someone you feel comfortable leaving your baby with all day is tough, and finding parents who can give you a first-hand review and answer questions is so helpful.

      Another cheap way to do baby stuff is consignment sales (not stores, sales that happen once or twice a year). We have offloaded so much stuff at those and usually made enough to pay for the next year’s clothes, too.

  90. Meg*

    I have a 10 month old, and having an understanding boss has made all of the difference for me.

    I went through a strategic reorganization while I was pregnant and had to reapply for my job. It was hugely stressful. My old boss got pushed out and my new boss was put in, and I didn’t know it at the time but it would be the best thing for my family.

    My new boss let me come up with my own back to work plan. He never questions when I have to take my child to the doctor, and lets me work from home on occasion when my child is sick. He also understood that my performance wouldn’t be immediately the same upon my return. My old boss was no where near as understanding.

  91. GreenDoor*

    Here’s my two cents:
    Tour daycares while you’re still pregnant so you can have a few months to think about the costs/commute/programs of each. Think long term, too….does the dayare transport to nearby schools in case your workday starts well before possible school days?

    Also, plan for the life stuff that NEEDS to get done in order for your workday to go smoothly. I found it so much easier when I established a set chore schedule, pre-planned meals, etc. Also, if you’re able to hire a sitter (even a responsible teenager) for, say, two hours on SAturday so you can use that time to do errands without the kid or do tasks that require concentration, like paying your bills that could be a huge help. Kids have an amazing way of making your time and your brain power vanish. Think about your daily routines, too, and plan for them taking three times longer with a child. Bath time, bed time, getting out the door in the morning. As a single, I used to be able to get up, pack a lunch and my work bag, shower and dress and travel to work all in less than an hour. With kids I”m up at 5 and barely getting to work on time at 8. So think about what activities you will change so that you have a plan in mind ready to go. And best of luck to you!!

  92. Beckie*

    A few things that haven’t come up yet:

    – Make sure you have a local network. If you don’t have one yet, try joining a new parent group (some start forming cohorts when people are pregnant). This will be hugely helpful in dealing with postpartum stuff you didn’t expect (like, no one tells you that you shed tons of hair at like 2-4 months postpartum), and in building a community.

    – As much as you will need flexibility and a network with a newborn, you’ll need it even MORE when your child is in school. It feels like schools in the U.S. still assume that every child has a stay-at-home parent, and even if you have good afterschool care the school schedule can be unpredictable. Building that network with other parents, and establishing flexibility and autonomy in your job now, will have payoffs down the line.

    – Trust your own instincts. If a given routine or schedule or habit works for you and baby, it works! End of story.

    (I’m not a single parent, but did go back to work full-time at about 4 months postpartum.)

  93. Erin*

    First, check CA laws about job duration & maternity leave. FMLA doesn’t cover you unless you’ve worked there for a year or more.

    Another thing to consider is that you already know how to do this job, and deal with these people. You will be tired and foggy, both during pregnancy and after, and it helps to have your work routines somewhat on autopilot.

    On the other hand, your commute sounds very unpleasant. I am a mom (with a helpful and supportive spouse), and the thing I value the most is time. There is almost none to spare, and my daily commute is about 15 minutes total. If I had another hour of driving to do, it would be coming out of my sleeping time.

    For the future, think about what you’ll do when your kid is sick. That first year of daycare is brutal on the germ front – you will easily use up your PTO on a combination of ear infections and barfing. It is amazingly helpful to have a relative nearby who might watch the kid when she wakes up with a fever and you have a very important meeting.

    Good luck!

  94. Queen of Alpha*

    I was a single parent at the age of 25, went back to school and finished my degree by the age of 31 (worked a near full time job with school) and now have a very nice senior position in the finance industry.
    Nr 1 rule is to design your life for convenience. Find a neighborhood with everything in it and stick with it. Daycare should either by close to the home or near the office. Try to minimize your commuting – if that means moving consider it heavily. My biggest stressor in life has always been pick ups and drop offs and trying to work a demanding job. Building a community around you that will help when you need it will make a huge difference. But that also means YOU need to offer to help other parents out in a pinch before they ask to start building those relationships.

    And honestly, the days are long but the years are short. Design your life to minimize stress, travel and traffic as much as possible and everything else is easier.

  95. Sick Civil Servant*

    I’m a single mother, twice over, both via adoption. My oldest was 2 years old when she arrived, and three years later, we welcomed her 22 month old sister. When my maternity leave was over (I’m Canadian so I got 9 months of parental leave), my daughter went to a daycare a few blocks away from home. Work was a 10 minute bus ride away from there. After 2 years, we moved to the suburbs & I got a live-in nanny. (I had a second job teaching university via the internet.) A live-in nanny is great if you can afford it. She not only provided daycare but cleaned the house, did laundry, cooked, etc. It freed up my non-work time to actually spend time with my kids. Stay with the job you have now – a strong support system is vital and a new workplace might not give you that. Good luck!

  96. Hankypanky*

    The best child care option is usually family, barring that if you can afford it I would go with a nanny. This gives you maximum flexibility in the start/pick-up time department. Plus you might be able to have the nanny help with light housekeeping (also a boon). Depending on where you live it might be cheaper to pay a nanny than to take your child to childcare.
    When I was looking at childcare 10 years ago in TX a center coat over $1,000 a month for an infant. We ended up managing with an excellent home care provider and then grandparents. It takes lots of research. I’d recommend looking at your local county childcare licensing agency for reports on safety infractions. “Nice” centers can have horrible safety violations that you wont know unless you read the reports. Plus the county will have a list of all licensed agencies.

    Second, basically dont plan on taking a vacation or sick day for yourself for like 3 years at least (kidding, not kidding). Especially if you have a child in daycare they will get sick like 1-2× a month. More bonus points for a nanny — less germs.

    A job that allows you to work flexible hours from home in a pinch would be preferable. Note, not one where you do childcare and job at same time. Rather, one where if childcare falls through you could work in evening when baby is sleeping etc.

    1. Kyrielle*

      And I’d have said go with a center every time, because if someone’s out sick the center is usually able to continue on fine.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        We split the difference and did a very professionally-run, in-home daycare. The provider was licensed (with a decade of no-violation scheduled and surprise inspections on file – always check these) and insured and had both a regular helper and backup. She never missed an unscheduled day (except once, under terrible circumstances that dwarfed our having to take a few PTO days). The lady who referred us said, “If you’re not impressed with Provider, you haven’t seen enough daycare yet.” My kids are late elementary school, haven’t gone there in 7 years, and still want to swing by and say hello to her sometimes.

        Family is not an option for us (and, frankly, not for many people we know – if they’re even retired, grandparents are happy to do after school or a day a week or babysit, but I don’t know anyone whose parents care for their children on anything close to a full-time basis, whether due to personal preference or stamina). Our parents were in their late 60s when our kids were born. The grandmas came to stay with us one week when our provider was on vacation, and they kids wiped them out so quickly that they were in bed before the kids were once we got home. No way they could do small-child care long-term, even if they didn’t live hundreds of miles away.

        In DC, a nanny will set you back around $40K/year (maybe more for taxes/benefits for full-time work), and center care is around $2K/month, generally with a 12-24 month waiting list. Most people I know who go the home care route either do a nanny share or an au pair.

      2. R.D.*

        I went with a center because with 3 adults always in the classroom, plus parents and other teachers going in and out, there was more oversight and less chance for abuse.

        That might be my personal trigger, but no way was I sending my child to someone else’s home where they could do god knows what while I was at work and we would never know unless they left a mark.

        If you go with a center, make sure it is one that welcomes parents to drop in at any point. The parent drop ins are disruptive and frequently if you come and then leave again, the teachers will have to spend time calming your sad child down. We rarely dropped in, but a center that discourages drop ins sometimes does so because they have something to hide.

  97. Contracts Killer*

    I’m not a single mom, but I think my advice will still apply.

    What will I want from a job as a single parent? I’ve got a bit of flexibility, a supportive boss, and probably will be able to pump in my office. Is this enough? Yep, for now. You will really have to BE a mom before you have any idea what kind of mom you will actually be. I thought I’d zip right back to work and was surprised at how much I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I have friends with polar opposite realizations. Once you figure out what kind of mom you are, you’ll have a much better idea of what kind of job is a good fit.

    Will I stop valuing the complex and interesting work I’m doing because I’m too tired? I doubt it. My guess is you’ll at times feel overwhelmed at being a parent and at time feel you’re completely terrible at it (we ALL feel like this sometimes). Those are the moments where your self esteem will really benefit from working on complex and interesting things and feeling like a smart, competent person.

    Because daycare is so expensive, will I want to try and make sure I’m on the high end of the pay scale? (Budget says it’s doable if a touch tight on my current pay). Maybe? There are so many options for daycare. The market is crazy though. Get on waitlists as soon as you are pregnant. Seriously.

    What else should I be taking into consideration and what should I do now to make the work part of my single-parenthood as good as possible? If your job is decent, and it sounds like it is, stay put! Your body is about to change, your life is about to change, don’t start a new job on top of everything else. You want at least one thing that is reliable and familiar.

    You got this, mama.

  98. AoifeL*

    Congratulations! I’m a single mom back at work. For me the biggest thing is having childcare that I’m comfortable with and backup when I need it. Where I am kids are sent home if they are too sick, which is fair enough. As you’re already happy where you are I’d recommend staying. Check in with your boss before you leave and when you return. I actually love being back. When you’re a single parent all of the responsibility is on you so work is a really nice break. I’m a lot more efficient because I don’t trick myself into thinking I’ll work at weekends. Finally don’t assume you’ll be sleep deprived. It will happen sometimes obviously but some kids do sleep. If you’re thinking ahead like this you’ll be awesome!

  99. Paperdill*

    I’m a mum of 3 young ones who’s husband isn’t around for much of their waking life.
    My thoughts are to ensure you invest into the relationships and community you have around you, friends, neighbours, local family. When you have the baby, mother’s groups, playgroups, school communities, sports teams etc.
    All these people will be your child’s “village” and will be a vital part of supporting you in your parenting role from the practical things (“Susan, there’s been and accident on the M2 and I can’t get to day care by 6 – are you able to collect Araminta for me, please?”) to the emotional things (“Hilary, I need to talk to someone or I am going to strangle Hermione – she is being so horrible this week!”).
    Asides having childcare for when you’re working, they’re be those times you’ll need casual babysitting and supports and it’s those things we can’t quite so easily arrange through organizations and throw money at.
    And, of course, tit-for-tat, you’ll be in a position to support others in your community, yourself, too.

  100. MotherOf3*

    I know you’re thinking about just preparing for a baby right now, but also remember that you’re going to be an active parent of that child for 18+ years of your work life…
    Think about:
    –I echo about daycare because it will be a big help or a big stress in your life. With Kid #1, we had an amazing family daycare that FED MY CHILD DINNER – that was AWESOME!! That meant I didn’t have a whiny, hungry toddler throwing tantrums while I tried to make him dinner at 6 pm
    –Your baby will get a raging ear infection 1 week after they start daycare – put it on your work calendar.
    –Ask around your local hospitals if they have sick child daycare (some do!)
    –Check now if your school district offers things like full day kindergarten and on-site before/after school care through grade 5. If kindergarten is half day, will you need offsite daycare and transportation?
    –Birthday parties: weekend work? The birthday party circuit for the first 6 years can be literally 20 weekends per year [after age 2 your kid will care about going!… and bouncy house = fever on Tuesday]
    -Emergency phone calls: how does/will your work feel about you taking multiple emergency phone calls? BTW, I still get multiple calls about/from my middle schooler most weeks
    You get the idea. I don’t mean to overwhelm you, it’s just I know I only thought as far ahead as “baby” and 12+ years later I’m still dealing with daycare dilemmas, emergency phone calls, weekend work/kid event conflicts, transportation issues… all worth it!

  101. Fellow Choice Mom*

    Fellow “choice” mom here. My child is a little over one year old now, and while this is not how I ever imagined becoming a mother when I was younger, there is no question this path was absolutely right for me. It has been better than I ever imagined. And just as hard as I had expected. Best wishes on your own journey to motherhood. As far as figuring out how to balance your work and single motherhood, I’ll echo what others have said. Manage your own expectations and the expectations of the people around you. Know it will take you some time to adapt (I’d say it took me a solid six months to feel like I had my feet back underneath me at work). Find childcare you trust so you can focus (as much as possible) on work when you’re at your job and on your child when you’re at home. Lean on your village for support and encouragement. And, most of all, trust your instincts. You’ll know when you need to (& can) pull back at work to focus on yourself and your baby. And you’ll know when you may have to sacrifice a bit of home/baby time to focus on work. You’ve got this! Good luck!!!

  102. Kaitlyn*

    Plan for the baby, but also plan for the toddler and the kid. With the baby time, I found sleep deprivation was a huge hurdle to get through; I’d suggest you take as much time off as you can after the birth, and be prepared for six months of totally bananas sleep “schedules,” and a HUGE adjustment period to your whole emotional and physical self.
    With a toddler (my current phase), I’m parenting solo, and the daily conflict with someone who barely speaks English and who has very little control over his emotions is….pretty high. Weekly dinners with my dad help keep me sane, but it’s not always the nicest time.

    In all phases, your work life will be important (flexibility is SO KEY), but rallying your family, friends, and general community to help—now and down the road—will be one of the key foundations to making the whole thing work. Do you have local family? Do you have a robust circle of friends who know your plans and want to help? Do you have local single parents groups you can tap into? Are there babysitters you trust? Is your chosen daycare really awesome? Who are your Plan B people for when you have the flu and your toddler doesn’t and needs constant stimulation? Who are your Plan C people for when those folks are on vacation? How close are you to local libraries, parks, schools, early years centres, museums, community food centres, etc? AKA, where are the places where you will meet people? Parenting can be lonely, doubly so when you’re solo, so being able to tap into those services and communities will be so good for your mental health. (I realize that this is not strictly work-related advice, but…you’re a whole person, who will be raising a whole person, and it’s good to take that into account.) Having a child was transformative for me—not always in ways I expected—and work will be one part of your new life; it might even take a backseat while you figure the whole gig out.

  103. Maria*

    Fellow single mom by choice here! I had been at my job for about 2 years before I went on maternity leave, and when I came back I was really grateful that I had all of that built up good will. The first month or so back was pretty smooth, but then my son had a doozy of a sleep regression, and I felt like I was operating on about 15% brain power. Knowing that my coworkers already knew I was smart, dedicated, etc when that hit was huge. I was also grateful that I had already become very good at my job by every objective standard. It was reasonable for me to “coast” for a while, since my coasting met everything my workplace needed from me, just took a break from bringing in things that they didn’t even know they needed.
    16 months into motherhood I’m now feeling the itch of dissatisfaction with my work. I’m rested and settled enough that my career ambition is starting to return. However, every time I need to stay home because he is sick, or leave early for a doctors appointment, or reschedule a standing meeting to accommodate a standing appointment that he needs, I remember how grateful I am for my office’s flexible, family oriented culture. I plan to stay here for as long as that gratitude outweighs my restlessness.
    Financially, the job pays just enough to cover everything we need, and that’s been OK. I have a family safety net for true emergencies – if I was completely financially on my own, the opportunity to make more money and have more of a cushion would likely tip the stay-or-go scale.
    So, all that to say, if I were to give actual advice, it would probably be to stay where you are for now so that you have some cushion when you come back from leave, in terms of already being good at your job, and already having proven yourself to others as such, as well as having a boss who will have your back in putting family first when you need to.
    However, as with everything related to parenthood, everyone’s experience of it is going to be different. Whatever you choose will either be the right call, or the lesson you needed to learn at that time. You will do wonderfully in the end <3. Congratulations on already being such a kick ass mom that you knew to go after it on your own terms!!!

  104. Elizabeth*

    One piece of advice with regards to pumping if you do decide to breastfeed/pump — find someplace you can borrow a hospital-grade pump and use that for most of your pumping (i.e. at work) and keep your free insurance-paid pump at home for occasional or travel use. The hospital grade pumps were amazing — super fast, much more efficient, and (for me) also much less uncomfortable than my ‘free’ pump. Many birth centers or other similar organizations will rent them. It isn’t cheap (and I ended up breastfeeding so long I probably should have just bought one!) but for me it made working while still breastfeeding SO much better. (And get a comfortable hands-free bra — even if you don’t want to work while pumping, it’s nice to be able to browse the web, do some reading, etc.) And if you have any issues getting going with breastfeeding, see a lactation consultant (or a few different ones) asap. Good consultants are amazing; not having good advice can be a very difficult start.

  105. CoveredInBees*

    I am not a single parent but my partner works long hours with a significant commute, so a lot of my job search has been heavily influenced by my needs as a caregiver.
    1) Ask around about childcare options. Getting a nanny might be more cost effective for you because you’ll need something to cover all the time you’re at work and commuting. Also, find parents of young children who can tell you how long local wait lists are. There are a bunch of daycares near me and their wait lists are a year long, sometimes longer. That will give you a more realistic idea of how many daycares are likely to be an option for you.
    2) Do you live somewhere it snows? Again, ask local parents about snow days including closures, delayed openings, and early dismissals. I work from home and can move my schedule around, so I can absorb those changes pretty easily, but they tend to wreck havoc on set schedules, especially because they’re usually last minute. You’ll need to figure out how to plan for this.

    3) Lots of sick days or flexible schedule. Kids in daycare get sick quite a bit. It just happens. Also, nannys (and their family) also get sick. Either way, you’ll have to work in some plan for coverage. If the caregiver is sick, there are drop-in daycares some places, but they won’t take sick children.

    4) Flexibility to work from home, at least sometimes. If you can, having the ability to work from home (especially last minute) can make life much easier. I’m a consultant and have my schedule set so that I work mostly during the day and then more after bedtime. This way, I can absorb schedule changes and send my kid to a daycare on a shorter schedule.

    5) I know you’re only asking about work-related stuff but one of the biggest helps for me as a working parent has been parent friends with kids around the same age. This is both for practical things (we’ve done pickups for each other and have the right size/type of carseat to make it work) as well as mental health and helping you figure out things day to day. All your friendships are valuable, but sometimes you’re going to need someone to swap poop tales with or to help you figure things out like the best places to take your kiddo to entertain them when the weather sucks.

  106. Mayflower*

    You may want to look into job-share. A job-share is where you share one full-time job with another person, similar to a part-time job but not the same. I know someone who does this and she loves it! She and another woman share job responsibilities and cover each other’s sick days and vacations; their supervisor doesn’t manage how they share, it is their responsiblity to make sure that the job is done, that internal and external clients are not confused by the job share, etc. On the compensation side, they each make half a full-time salary and both do get full benefits.

    1. Mayflower*

      I wanted to add that not all kids in daycare get sick often. My child was in daycare and did not get sick often at all.

  107. Rachel*

    It sounds like you have a pretty good job for your potential future situation. Honestly, I would stick with your job, and then revisit the question of a new job when your child is 2 or 3 years old. My general advice is not to ‘lean out’ or ‘lean in’, just keep doing what you are doing unless you realize that won’t work.
    Particularly, the first few months back to work, you are going to be tired, and it will be better to do a job that you already know than a newer job that you have to learn. And you can try to skate by for a while if you go back to a job you have had forever, but that does not work so well with a new job. Daycare expenses are tough, but they go down as the baby gets to be a toddler usually. Having a good place to pump is golden! Kids younger than that tend to get sick a lot, so its nice to not be in a new job for that. I have noticed that breastfed babies tend to get sick less often, so that is a major benefit to pumping, even though it is a pain.

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