09/12/2011 04:07 pm ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

Single Mom Cohabitation: Is Shared Housing The New Way To Parent?

When Ramona Lee Perez, 38, of New York City divorced her husband after 10 years of marriage, she found herself spending money -- lots of money -- on childcare for her 6-year-old son while she worked part-time teaching Women's Studies at Queens College. "Last year I easily spent $1000/month on evening childcare. I asked for a schedule change, but I still had to work one night a week," says Perez. Not only was it expensive, it was stressful for her son, who was experiencing separation anxiety. "He hated being with a sitter. We had two different ones in one year, and backups, and it was too unstable for both his and my needs," says Perez. When a friend from La Leche League mentioned that she was thinking of leaving her marriage but wasn't sure where she would move with her (now almost) 6-year-old daughter, Perez suggested they join forces and blend the households. "Our kids had known each other for their whole lives," says Perez of the natural fit, which got both families through a rough year. Though Perez' housemate has recently moved in with her boyfriend, the pair (and their kids) are still friends and play regularly in the same East Harlem neighborhood where they lived together.