Childcare for the Suddenly Single Parent

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Suddenly being thrust into single parenthood is hard, especially if your children are not mature enough to care for themselves.

When you and your spouse are planning for that “just-in-case”, “what if” moment, it’s important to look at it from the perspective of both parents to make sure resources will be available for either parent to succeed. A stay-at-home parent will understand the commitment to care for young kids but may need to find help if going back to work is necessary. A breadwinner who works outside the home all day may be in for a rude awakening when they suddenly learn what it takes to keep kids fed, clothed, clean, and educated. Outsourcing the care, changing jobs, or reducing hours may all be options a breadwinner might need to consider.

If you currently don’t need childcare but think you might if your parenting partner unexpectedly is no longer around, below are considerations to make as you plan for your financial, employment, and childcare needs.

Schedules -- Your schedule will be tied to the schedule of your caretaker so going to the office early or staying late may be difficult.

Expenses -- Childcare is expensive. According to a 2021 survey by, more than 50 percent of families paying for childcare will spend over $10,000 a year. If you’re not used to paying that and your plan is to outsource care if you or your spouse dies, do you have a financial plan in place to cover childcare?

Emergencies -- Be prepared to be flexible. Single parents need to be able to pick up their children on a moment's notice if the child becomes ill, injured or has any other kind of trouble at school or daycare. You may also have to scramble for alternative care for a day if your childcare provider calls in sick.

Work Travel -- If your work requires traveling, you might need to find another job. It's hard enough to find childcare during normal working hours, let alone for three or four days in a row for a business trip. Talk to family and friends about their willingness to watch your kids for extended periods of time.

Engagement -- Many childcare providers and schools require parents to be involved. There may be meetings to attend, forms to complete, field trips to chaperone, parent-teacher conferences to attend, or snacks to provide.

If you need further assistance or guidance, contact Prepare Your Affairs at


  • If you have younger children at home, talk to your spouse about how to care for them if suddenly one of you becomes a single parent
  • Assume that you’ll need to outsource care and make a financial plan that budgets for childcare
  • Do a little homework about who might be good candidates to help with childcare
  • Talk to other single parents and ask them about how they manage childcare and what the biggest challenges are for them
Prepare Your Affairs Founders


Corey and Katie entered widowhood in 2016 after losing spouses to cancer.  They met and connected in a widow/widower support group and later married.  One of the principles they learned from their own experiences and those of other surviving spouses is that the more prepared a surviving spouse is on a financial, legal, emotional, and practical level, the better they will adjust to widowhood.  They will maintain their independence and control of their assets and be freer to properly grieve and move forward in life.  Conversely, those who are not prepared are more likely to have their lives flipped upside down.  They may need to move and uproot kids because they can't afford the mortgage, rely on family or other charities to financially support them, and/or change jobs to allow them to better serve as a single parent.  We hope to share what we've learned and help other families properly get their affairs in order and be prepared with confidence, peace of mind, and in control of their assets.