This brief guide is adapted from a paper by SMC member Emily Engel on contingency plans for single mother by choice moms in the UK, which was inspired by the passing of an SMC friend who left a ten-year old daughter. This seems especially relevant in the wake of the coronavirus.
Emily writes, “Mundane things can happen, a sprained ankle, a dose of flu or a stomach bug, or a crisis with another family member may put you in a situation where it’s hard to prioritize the stability and security your child needs. Forward planning may save you a lot of legwork in a crisis, and may defuse some of the underlying anxieties we often push to the back of our mind.”
Start building your family’s “village” before your child is born or comes home.
Make friends with other parents who live nearby and might be able to provide backup or emergency care.
Remember that other single moms might be freer to help and appreciate a reciprocal arrangement.
These support people do not need to be people you would necessarily strike up a friendship with in other situations, but you do need to respect and trust them.
In an emergency:
You want to try to ensure that your child experiences as little disruption as possible, e.g. keeping them at home with familiar toys and bed.
Having them stay with people they know is preferable to strangers, even if they are trained and qualified childcare providers
Ask someone to help you care for your children at home, if, for example, you are sick.
Go somewhere, like a relative’s home, as a family until you are well enough to manage on your own.
If necessary have your child stay with you at night but be cared for elsewhere during the day
Have your child stay with someone until you are well enough to take charge again. An optimal situation is to have them stay with someone they already know.
Long Term Planning- Naming a Guardian
Think of people you might consider asking to raise your child(ren) in the event of your death.
Talk with them about their willingness and ability to do so.
Appointing a guardian can be done verbally, but to ensure that it is recognized as your wish in the case of any dispute, it is best done formally, for instance in a will.