To ask you to help me prepare for life as a single mother? Please tell me everything I need to know.

(71 Posts)
ferriswheel Thu 03-Nov-16 23:02:30

Me, three pre school boys...... what's the emotional and practical stuff I need to prepare for?

tia

JenLindleyShitMom Thu 03-Nov-16 23:12:12

I've been a single mum of two boys for 11 years now (since ds1 was born)

If you haven't already got one, get a bedtime routine!! There are 2 reasons for this, 1) youre going to need good quality sleep in what is likely to be a stressful time until things settle down. 2) you need some time for yourself each evening to just breathe after being solely in charge of 3 small kids all day. You can't run the car on a empty tank!

Good organisation in general will make life a lot easier while you get to grips with going it alone. (That's old routine word again!) set everyone's clothes out the night before. Coats and shoes, change bag by the door. Do a laundry load every day just to keep things ticking over so you know you have a clean set of clothes for everyone each day.

Get out of the house every day. Go to the park or softplay or just the shop! Anywhere to get you out in the fresh air, speaking to other adults and getting some time away from the house. Even if it's just 10 minutes, even if it takes Ann hour to get everyone ready, make that effort and do it. It's really important for you!

BertieBotts Thu 03-Nov-16 23:14:09

You don't need to worry about anything. You'll figure it out as it comes.

I'm guessing you're either recently single, or about to become single. Focus on getting through one day at a time if that is the case.

Everything will sort itself out. Figure out how to put food on the table and a roof over your heads and everything else will come.

Hope you're OK.

JenLindleyShitMom Thu 03-Nov-16 23:15:16

Money wise: make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to. Free nursery places, healthy start vouchers (not sure if these still exist?) housing benefit etc. Also, try and do a budget and if possible stick a few ££ away each week to cover those 'surprise' expenses that are now solely your responsibility to pay for.

Neonoen Thu 03-Nov-16 23:15:33

Single mother to 4.

Practically I'd say the hardest thing is that everything...literally everything is on you. Rubbish needs taking out...that's you. Squeaky door.....that's you. Dinner cooking....yep you. Nappy.....you again

It's what I struggle with the most. It would be lovely to just occasionally be able to say "oh DH could you do the nappy" or in fact anything! It gets exhausting.

But. But but but, I would rather be happy and I am.

JellyBelli Thu 03-Nov-16 23:15:51

Are you financially secure? Do you need money saving tips? They can be a bit annoying if you dont need them. flowers

bluemarble Thu 03-Nov-16 23:24:30

Single full time working mum of 2 boys here.

Completely agree about the bedtime routine.

Start getting your dc to do basic tasks to help - putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket, putting toys away etc. That can progress as they get older to helping to lay the table/clear away, empty the dishwasher, put away clean clothes, hang out the washing etc (all things my two under 8s do). It all helps with the daily chores which can become overwhelming. We talk a lot about taking responsibility for your own things - clearing away after yourself and getting yourself ready for school.

So the other side of that is helping them to become more independent with personal care so dressing/undressing, getting their shoes/coats on, taking shoes/coats off and putting them away.

Obviously some of that is too much for preschoolers but lay the groundwork now!

Support - build a network of friends at nursery/school who you can sometimes swap lifts with/share childcare etc. Try to get to know your neighbours so you know someone nearby you could call on in an emergency.

Emotionally be prepared for moments where it all feels totally overwhelming and where the feeling of being the sole one responsible hits you - like when your dc says to you - mummy if you fell over and were dead what would happen to us? Thanks Ds1... Though actually prompted a sensible discussion about how to use the phone and where to find the numbers of family to call in an emergency (and when not to call 999!).

R2G Thu 03-Nov-16 23:58:15

Don't post your whole social life or your private thoughts and feelings on Facebook. People judge, and not the people who matter. Just nosy people. Keep your circle tight.

missymayhemsmum Fri 04-Nov-16 00:01:22

Build your support network- toddler group friends, lone parent club, other mums and dads, family, surrogate grandparents, aunts and uncles, so your kids have lots of extra grownups, and you aren't eyeball to eyeball with them 24/7. Find lots of people you trust who will expand your sons' opportunities, especially good male role models. (big boy heroes as well as boisterous uncles and scouts, sport, choirs, or whatever)
Don't expect too much of yourself- if you get through the day with everyone safe, fed, ending the day cleanish and halfway sane you are doing brilliantly.
Streamline your home. If you pick something up more often than you or they use it, it belongs in the bin. On the other hand, one of the privileges of single parenthood is that if you don't do the housework sometimes it isn't anyone else's problem- the kids are unlikely to complain! Insist that the kids do their share as soon as they are able.
Most lone parents are tired, skint and feeling guilty most of the time because you absolutely can't earn and do everything your kids deserve however hard you try. Give yourself credit for 'good enough' days.

Be ready to read the riot act and be the big scary disciplinarian mother. No-one else will do it, and you need to be able to stop your sons in their tracks with your tone of voice to keep them safe. (Using a deep loud voice seems to work) Perfect the technique while they are pre-schoolers and it will stand you in good stead for their teens. It is your job to be in charge.

Good luck!

Alabastard Fri 04-Nov-16 00:48:40

I became a single mother when DD was 12 weeks. She's 9 months now and I've just started a part time job with help from my family providing some childcare.

Emotionally it is scary. There's no bugger there. It's all you. However you need to remember that every positive thing is all on you too. You can do this.

Check you're claiming everything you're entitled to. Good luck.

ittooshallpass Fri 04-Nov-16 06:19:24

Ignore the judgey brigade.
Prepare to be ignored or not invited to 'couples' social events.
Don't worry if your house isn't clean.
Accept you can't do it all..

Forget about 'doing stuff for you'. Accept it's not possible for now. You just put additional pressure on yourself that you're not doing it!

Steer clear of Facebook especially at holiday times. You'll only torture yourself looking at the slice of life you haven't got. But remember too that people only post what they want you to see.

Enjoy your own company.
Enjoy having no rules but your own.
Sleep like a starfish.
Spread out your clothes in the wardrobe.
Stock up your freezer.
Invite friends to your house in the evenings.
Don't pressure yourself.

As long as everyone is fed, safe and knows they are loved, job done.

Tryingtostayyoung Fri 04-Nov-16 06:33:56

I'm such an emotional git, read through all of your posts and I'm. Crying. So nice to see so much help and support.

TresDesolee Fri 04-Nov-16 06:44:15

Always have a loaf of bread and a pint of milk in the freezer, so you don't find yourself wondering whether it's ok to pop out and get some at 11pm.

Agree about building up friends and local support networks. My friends have stepped into the breach too many times to mention. (It's important to return the favours.)

If your DCs' dad remains involved, look forward to lots of glorious child-free time - more than most coupled-up parents have.

Make sure you're getting all the benefits you qualify for. Check on 'entitled to' website or book in an appointment at the CAB. Even if you earn a fair amount you can get council tax credit and perhaps child tax credits.

Don't do online dating until you feel emotionally stable, it can be a rough game.

Maintain a good cooperative relationship with your ex and never let your kids hear you argue or slag him off. (NB doesn't apply if he's abusive.)

Good luck OP, you'll be fine x

SemiNormal Fri 04-Nov-16 07:30:44

Always have a loaf of bread and a pint of milk in the freezer, so you don't find yourself wondering whether it's ok to pop out and get some at 11pm. - THIS and also Calpol etc, if one gets sick you're a bit trapped and popping out to by Calpol can be a near impossibility. Emergancy chocolate is also a must! (for you, not the kids, and don't feel guilty about not sharing).

Be kind to yourself. Often.

Learn to ask for/accept help and do not feel bad about it.

Have fun. Especially if there were things you couldn't do when ex was around ie make a mess in the kitchen with the kids when baking.

Enjoy being able to decorate everything exactly how you want. GO WILD (if you want to). When I broke up with my ex I painted the living room ceiling brightly coloured and papered the walls with pages of a book ... why? because I damn well could! Get the kids involved.

Wanted to try out a new hairstyle but wasn't sure if ex would like it? now is your time!

Emotionally - You don't need to be STRONG 24/7. It really is okay to cry, I promise.

Early nights! They are worth it, honestly. Not every night, but at least twice a week, get an early night. You will be tired (exhausted) and may feel completely drained, don't do what I did then and stay up late on the laptop watching crappy Youtube videos just so I didn't have to confront the empty bed.

megletthesecond Fri 04-Nov-16 07:37:29

You'll become a hoarder of emergency medicine and food basics. I have never run out of bread / calpol etc. It's drummed into me to always keep tabs on them.

Agree with neo that everything is hard. Even after eight years. It's survivable though.

ferriswheel Fri 04-Nov-16 09:00:54

Thank you for this.

I'm scared about everything but I know I have no choice. Emotionally I'm on my own anyway.

What new skills have you all learned? When do you mostly feel judged?

And yes Jelly, any money saving tips would be great.

I'm not expecting h to leave the house for a couple of months. How best can I use that time?

tia

JenLindleyShitMom Fri 04-Nov-16 09:10:51

Wrt developing a scary authority voice, I have honed it over the years so I literally raise one finger (not the bird! My index one grin) and they know I am not taking any shit.

It started out when they were small with me saying, "if I get to 3 then there will be X consequence". It took a lot of following through when they were small to get them to realise I meant it but now I don't need to say a word. I catch their eye and raise my index finger and they both instantly know that they're in trouble if I have to raise two more fingers. It works. I never have to lift the second or third and I'm never raising my voice in public.

teenmumandsowhat Fri 04-Nov-16 09:22:08

Lower your standards with housework, there's only you, and you can't do everything. Also what really helped me, was learning the difference between untidy, and dirty. Your house doesn't have to be spotless to be clean.

ThIs is the time to build up a support network of friends, and then when you need something doing that you can't, by yourself. Get them to help.
E.g. Gardens a mess? Provide drinks/snacks and invite people over for a gardening party. Etc.

SemiNormal Fri 04-Nov-16 10:41:10

What new skills have you all learned? When do you mostly feel judged?

Organisational/time management skills. I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I also know how to deal with a crisis without having to rely on someone else.

I don't feel so judged in real life, mainly when people make shitty comments online about single parents.

I'm not expecting h to leave the house for a couple of months. How best can I use that time?

Preparing the kids emotionally for when he leaves? I think that is something he can help with (possibly?) so that it's not all on you when he does go? Could he move out gradually? is that something that is possible? So maybe him staying out of the house for say two nights a week for a while, then four nights a week for a while and so on. Might help to ease the children into it, especially with them being young and perhaps not able to fully understand what's going on - be less of a shock then daddys here one minute and then he's gone.

Are there any household jobs you need doing that you can't do? Ask him if he can do them while he's there so you don't need to worry about a handy man later. Is there any jobs he usually deals with that you're unsure about? get him to show you how he deals with it.

Does he have the number of the plumber/electrician etc that you usually use? get it from him now so you won't be stuck in the future if he's got his phone off or whatever.

Any heavy lifting of things that you no longer want/need that needs taking to the tip that you won't manage by yourself? Get him roped in before he goes. One less thing to worry about when he's gone. Ex left me with so much stuff in the shed, as a non driver and most the stuff being heavy I've found it a nightmare to shift on my own.

Of course in an ideal world these will be things he can/will help with after he's gone. But the world is less than ideal and he may not always be available when you need a hand. The above are just things that come to mind that I would have liked ex to help me with before going that he promised to do when he'd moved out and didn't.

SemiNormal Fri 04-Nov-16 10:41:20

What new skills have you all learned? When do you mostly feel judged?

Organisational/time management skills. I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I also know how to deal with a crisis without having to rely on someone else.

I don't feel so judged in real life, mainly when people make shitty comments online about single parents.

I'm not expecting h to leave the house for a couple of months. How best can I use that time?

Preparing the kids emotionally for when he leaves? I think that is something he can help with (possibly?) so that it's not all on you when he does go? Could he move out gradually? is that something that is possible? So maybe him staying out of the house for say two nights a week for a while, then four nights a week for a while and so on. Might help to ease the children into it, especially with them being young and perhaps not able to fully understand what's going on - be less of a shock then daddys here one minute and then he's gone.

Are there any household jobs you need doing that you can't do? Ask him if he can do them while he's there so you don't need to worry about a handy man later. Is there any jobs he usually deals with that you're unsure about? get him to show you how he deals with it.

Does he have the number of the plumber/electrician etc that you usually use? get it from him now so you won't be stuck in the future if he's got his phone off or whatever.

Any heavy lifting of things that you no longer want/need that needs taking to the tip that you won't manage by yourself? Get him roped in before he goes. One less thing to worry about when he's gone. Ex left me with so much stuff in the shed, as a non driver and most the stuff being heavy I've found it a nightmare to shift on my own.

Of course in an ideal world these will be things he can/will help with after he's gone. But the world is less than ideal and he may not always be available when you need a hand. The above are just things that come to mind that I would have liked ex to help me with before going that he promised to do when he'd moved out and didn't.

Backingvocals Fri 04-Nov-16 11:00:25

Agree with bedtime routine. Emergency supplies in the freezer, calpol etc.

Also agree with developing a tough streak. I am absolutely in charge in my house and the DCs know that. But also focus on having fun with the kids. Kitchen disco, baking together, your family's in jokes. As a single parent you set the tone in the house every day and the kids follow your lead. So tough but fun and loving creates the right framework.

Get out every day - even if you feel terrible. I used to think if I was a bit under the weather that we could get away with a day on the sofa. But that way everything goes to pot, the kids play up and the day really drags. Better to gird your loins - go out even if only to the park - and battle through that way.

Also reverse lie-ins! Go to bed really early - sometimes I go to bed when the kids do. And just have an hour or so lying in bed listening to the radio or reading like you would in the morning if you didn't have to get up.

Good luck - you'll be great. I honestly think a good single parent is better than two so-so parents. I grew up in a single parent family and we are close and happy and so are my kids now.

Ratonastick Fri 04-Nov-16 11:49:22

LP to one DS here. I completely agree with just about everything above (especially maintaining constant tick over of the jobs list and the freezer being your best friend!)

My big tip is that, if you have become a lone parent, then your boys father is not around (any number of reasons could be divorce,death, catastrophic health issues, anything). Mine was a Dad that just left so it was really important to me that DS had good male role models. My brothers and Dad have been brilliant. They present it as doing boy stuff together but also they lead by example of how good men behave. He also has a couple of terrific male teachers who have been good role models for him. I was and remain terrified that DS would grow up thinking his fathers behaviour was "how men are" and acceptable.

It's weird seeing that written down, but somehow it always felt like a critical risk and one that I wasn't properly able to manage on my own.

Neonoen Fri 04-Nov-16 13:07:25

Agree about not posting your social life on FB. My children's father is very involved and has the children quite a bit. I have lots of free weekends and a great social life with other single people.

The judging for daring to have a life was awful. I culled about 75% of my FB friends and kept the 25% who were happy for me.

ferriswheel Fri 04-Nov-16 13:17:34

This new judgement thing scares me. Do people actually say stuff to you criticising or do you just get the impression they do?

How lonely is it?

I find it strange that my whole life I wanted to meet someone and settle down, and now as an older Mum, I'm on my own and cannot ever imagine wanting or knowing how to be in a relationship again. I am already so exhausted from being strong and it hasn't even begun yet.

trashcanjunkie Fri 04-Nov-16 13:47:34

so, having been a single mum at 18 with no contact from dcs dad, I struggled with lack of child free time. With my second and third children I was again single parent from pregnancy, but their dad has them overnight three times a week. This made such a difference to my single parent experience. If there's no contact overnight, I would think about how to create and extend networks, and nurture friendships which are suitable for possible kid swaps.

Parts of being a single parent are very empowering as you have no one to answer to re decisions. It can also be lonely for exactly the same reasons, so make a priority getting time to yourself and time with friends. Don't take shit from anyone.

I have never ever ever felt judged as a single parent.

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