Both Wanda Gomez’s sons thought the warm weather made it clear where they needed to spend a balmy afternoon last week.“They said, today’s a pool day, but like, we cannot go to pool, because…I have to work,” Gomez says. Such is spring break for a working single mother.
Gomez does voter registration work for The New Florida Majority and she brings her sons with her on the job. Today, Jose and Omar are killing time on the swing set at Roberto Clemente Park in Wynwood, the 5-year-old i Omar twisting the swing in knots until he spins himself dizzy.
Their mother is around the corner registering people to vote outside a grocery store. This is how it goes over Christmas and all summer long, Gomez says. “It’s more difficult when they start, ‘Mommy, I’m hungry, Mommy, I’m tired, Mommy, I’m thirsty.’ Like yesterday—I’m working six hours now. By the three hours, they wanted to go home,” she says. Nevertheless, Gomez says this is the best arrangement she’s been able to find: campaign work with a flexible schedule and no fixed location.
Parents who can’t afford child care during school breaks rely on a patchwork of favors from relatives and workarounds like ‘tag-teaming,’ where one spouse works early and the other works late. Some cities like Opa-locka and North Miami offer low-cost day camps.
Gomez says many of her friends are worse off than she is. “Most of them have to leave their kids in the house by themselves. I know that, but they’re not going to say that,” she says, fearing that it could bring repercussions from the Department of Children and Families.
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