An Almost Free Child Care Option for Working Single Moms

Working, single moms have more than their share of struggles. There are struggles like how to pay the electric bill this month or who is going to care for my children when I am at work. There are also the balancing act struggles like being too tired to play, too busy to have a personal life and too guilty (or to broke) to hire a babysitter to go out for an evening. When my daughter was younger, I discovered a secret that helped with at least a couple of those balancing issues. I found that Thursday night after 6:00 pm is a great time to take your children to McDonalds. I know, I know, you can’t believe that I actually took my daughter to McDonalds for dinner and especially in the middle of the week. I admit, it was a selfish thing on my part, buy hey, I didn’t do it very week. It all started quite by accident for the reason one might expect. But it continued and, not really for the reason one might expect! Quite frankly, I ended up with at least four selfish reasons why it was good to take my daughter to McDonalds for dinner once in awhile!

One summer evening towards the end of the month, the only thing I could find in the refrigerator for dinner was a bowl of leftover beef stew. That would have been ok, but when I took off the lid, the sage green topping and putrid smell kept that entree off the menu and into the garbage disposal. I was tired and stressed and she was very hungry. (The obvious and number one selfish reason for taking a child to McDonalds for dinner in the middle of the week.) So, as I listened to “I’m hungry” for the umpteenth time, I turned and asked, “honey, how would you like to go to McDonalds for dinner?” I immediately became a heroine. “Oh, mama, I love you soooo much.” When we walked out the door, I grabbed the morning newspaper that had yet to be opened.

We went to one of the McDonalds that had an indoor play area and while we waited for our food, we discussed some “rules”. No playing until you have eaten. Come back to the table when called. No whining when time to leave. If the rules are broken, we will never (yes, I said the n word) come back again.

I could not believe what happened next. She asked me if I needed help with the tray and then she led me to a table near the play area and said, “Here, Mama, this is a nice clean, quiet table.” She sat down, whispered a little prayer and ate all of her happy meal while chatting away about her day at kindergarten. I listened in amazement. Usually at the dinner table, I ask how was your day and what did you do and I get a response like, “ok, good, I don’t remember.” Here we were, having a wonderful little dinner conversation over French fries, catsup and honey mustard. (Selfish reason number two for taking my child to McDonalds for dinner in the middle of the week.)

Little did I know that the best was yet to come. “Can I go play now?” She handed me her shoes and off she went to romp with the four other children whose parents were “bad” enough to take them to McDonalds in the middle of the week for dinner. Yep, only four, not the usual Saturday 20 or 30. This made for a quiet, restful reading environment. I opened my paper and read every single page, even the Sports section! (Selfish reason number 3 to take your child to McDonalds in the middle of the week) It didn’t even matter that I discovered I was reading yesterdays paper!

The next thing I knew, there was this little tap on my shoulder and voice saying, “Mom, it’s getting dark outside now. Can I play for a few more minutes though?” It was dark, so I said no and she said, “but” and I said no and then she put on her shoes. No fussing, no begging, no whining. I was in awe. It was 8:00 by then and she fell asleep on the drive home. I carried her into the house and put her to bed, again without any arguments. (Selfish reason number 4 for taking your child to McDonalds for dinner in the middle of the week.)

That was a special evening for the two of us. We spent quality time together, she had playmates, and I had kind of a free, childcare center for awhile and got to read the paper without any interruptions! For that, I became a secret McMom, and, along with the few other McMoms and McDads who have figured this out, looked forward to the nights when selfish reason number one happens.

PS. Please don’t tell too many people or we won’t have selfish reason number three any more.

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