Navigating life's balancing act

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alysa Calvarese
  • 1st Special Operations Wing

Balancing work and home life can be a challenge for many Airmen. Adding children to the mix can make it even more difficult, and for single parents, that’s another story.

That is exactly what Senior Airman Andy Soto, a 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, experiences as he navigates being a single parent in the Air Force.

He spends his work days performing a wide range of duties from managing personnel training contacts to ensuring the upkeep of fitness facilities. After work, Soto turns on ‘dad mode’, he prepares dinner for himself and son. Once that is completed the rest of the night is spent bonding by playing with toys, watching his son's favorite television shows or playing video games together.

Four-year-old Miguel, also known by his nickname, Miggy, is a “well-behaved, loving son” to Soto.

“Being a father is the most rewarding experience I could ever have, but it does come with its challenges,” said Soto.

Like many Airmen, Soto’s family doesn’t live in the local area, but Soto said he has fortunately been able to rely on his coworkers to help look after Miggy when needed, or utilize the Family Child Care program.

“The FCC program offers specialized services for military members to support the mission,” said Eleanor Hale, child development specialist and palace acquire intern. “On top of regular hour care, they also provide extended duty child care, respite care, infants and school-age children care, care during swing and midnight shifts, and various other care options.”

The FCC is an alternative child care option for service members or Department of Defense civilians, which provides care for children in a family environment within a provider's home. FCC providers are able to be flexible in their hours of operation and they can provide part-time or hourly care.

“Being able to have daycare outside of the Child Development Center hours has played a really big part in Miggy’s care,” said Soto. “It’s been a lot of help.”

Another challenge Soto has noticed since being a single father is finding time to take care of himself.

“When I’m at work I am constantly on the move, and when I get home I am still go go go,” said Soto. “It’s difficult to find time for myself.”

However, Soto explained that it’s nice when he can catch up on some much needed rest while his son is at the CDC and he has the day off work.

Data from a 2022 report by Military One Source stated that there are approximately 44,000 active-duty military members that are single parents, which equates to 4% of the total force. This statistic emphasizes the importance of understanding and supporting single parents within the military community.

Soto’s best advice to single parents serving in the military is to have a good support system that can help out in a time of need.

Although balancing his work and home life can be challenging, Soto stated that he wouldn't have it any other way.

“You’re my best friend,” Miggy said to Soto.

Just as he says, Miggy is his.