Single parents - what are your tips for making life easier?

(55 Posts)

I've been a single parent for almost a month now. I have 3 dds - 6, almost 4 and 15 months. It feels like I never sit down because there is so much to do.

DD3 doesn't sleep very well. She sleeps with me, but in the evening I am often up and down settling her. She is also quite clingy in the day, and tends to scream at the safety gate if I am in the kitchen preparing food etc.

DD1 is in school and DD2 is in preschool, so I need to prepare a packed lunch and uniforms. Then there's cleaning, cooking, and everything else that needs doing and it just feels so overwhelming.

Add to that DD2 and DD3 both being quite ill with a virus (I'm assuming, anyway, we're off to the doctors in a bit). They both want to be lying on top of me, which I can do up to a point but other stuff needs doing too.

It just all feels a bit relentless atm. So I was wondering if anyone who has been there had any tips for making life a little bit easier please?

princessalbert Thu 27-Feb-14 11:47:05

Oh, sounds busy in your life at the moment,OP.

I only had the one DS - but I found that just being generally very organised kept me sane. Any notes from school I dealt with the same day. Got uniform ready the night before. Made sure the book was in bookbag etc. Packed lunches were made up the night before. I also trained up DS to get himself ready from a young age.

I did get a cleaner for a short time. just once a week to do all the jobs I found that I didn't have time to do because of work and childcare. I was in no way rich, but it was worth it for the time saving.

Perhaps at the moment it is all a bit much, with them just getting over an illness. they will take up much more of your time and energy - which is draining on you.

Oh, and I used to go to bed at 9pm myself - in order to have enough energy to see me through the next day.

JammyPodger Thu 27-Feb-14 11:52:05

Agree with dealing with letters etc as soon as you get them. Get all school/pre school stuff set out the night before.

Doesn't work for everyone, but I don't battle over bed time with my DD. If she wants to sleep in my bed then I let her. When she was a toddler I'd let her sleep on the sofa with the tv on low for me.

I think it will get loads easier for you, you're all adjusting to the new situation.

Thanks so much for your advice. I am trying to get a bit of a system in place, so that everything is ready the night before. I end up staying up late though because resettling the baby slows me down! I am lucky that the older two are pretty good at getting themselves dressed, I just have to wipe their faces and do their hair.

I am trying to avoid any major battles as well. DD2 has been in bed with me and DD3 the last few nights as she has been waking herself up coughing. At the moment she is flopped on the couch with a blanket watching tv, and DD3 is taking a brief break from screaming and hanging off my legs to play. She is full of conjunctivitis and looks monstrous but at least is happy for now.

I have told XP to pick DD1 from school tonight so I don't have to drag the little ones out again. Hopefully a good night's sleep will leave them all feeling a little healthier smile

JammyPodger Thu 27-Feb-14 16:47:50

I empty bags and lunch box as soon as we get in. Clean lunch box and put fruit, juice and crisps in ready for the next day.

Dd wears a onsie at home after school so I put uniform in the wash basket and hang a fresh one up.

School bag, shoes and hair things are all kept in a drawer in the hall so I'm not trying to hunt them down in the morning.

Sounds a bit mundane but once DD is asleep I just relax because everything is done. I used to work longer hours and just leave everything until morning but was always running round ironing blouses and looking for books etc.

JammyPodger Thu 27-Feb-14 16:48:28

Sorry forgot to say, hope DD gets well soon.

Thank you smile she is tucked up in bed now and hopefully asleep, I am praying that she is brighter in the morning. It is her birthday on Sunday as well. So I am running round preparing for a party that I might end up having to cancel sad

I will definitely put some of your tips into place, I think a strict routine is what I need!

CagneynotLacey Thu 27-Feb-14 20:14:32

My best piece of advice is going to bed super-early every few nights. My DS is a toddler so my sleep is often disturbed, even if it is just by him climbing into bed with me in the middle of the night (I don't mind this at all apart from the fact it sometimes means my sleep is a bit crap).

Every four nights or so, I'll go to bed just after him and can be tucked up at 8.30 or 9. I find having sufficient sleep makes the challenges much much easier to handle.

Monetbyhimself Thu 27-Feb-14 20:38:51

Definitely get as organised as you can. I set the table for breakfast as soon as I've cleared up from dinner the night before.
Online shopping as much as you can.
Rope the kids in to putting dirty washing in basket etc.

Lower standards grin I ran myself ragged initially and then realised that cuddles with the kids were more important than hoovering every single day.

That sounds like a good idea, Cagney. I'm a bit of a night owl though, and I tend to do the packed lunch, dishes etc once the kids are asleep, as well as trying to wind down a bit! I'm not very good at going to bed early! I am normally good at surviving on very little sleep but I am rather overstretched atm, as well as being full of cold. It's a right pity party in my house right now :D

Ooh, xposted there Monet. I will definitely steal your laying the table for breakfast idea, that would surely speed us up in the morning! Right now it's taking ages to get downstairs as the two small ones have stuck together eyes when they wake up, which need to be bathed so they can see where they're going. It's not normally this crappy though.

I am training the kids up to be a bit more helpful too. They were already quite good, but I'm giving them a bit more responsibility, especially DD1. I think my standards are set too high, really. I am so busy trying to prove to myself that I can do this that I am doing too much.

ballstoit Sun 02-Mar-14 21:24:44

Go easy on yourself. The months between dc3 arriving and dc1 starting school, I really tried to keep the mantra 'all fed,no one dead' at the front of my mind grin

Time to relax and look after yourself is as great a priority as the house and DC.

And if anyone offers to help, let them and be specific about what they could do to help eg drop a meal in, take the dcs out for a walk for an hour, come round and help with bathtime.

Sorry, just seen your message balls, thank you smile "All fed, no one dead" is a great mantra! :D And one I am sticking to religiously at the moment. I am having a truly crappy week, the DC have all been ill and in and out of the doctors. No one is sleeping and I am shattered! Please let next week be a great improvement.

newsandreviews Tue 04-Mar-14 20:33:32

Have you thought of having a HomeStart volunteer? Its what i did when things felt like to much - they are just a friend, a pair of hands to play with kids whilst do some chores, someone to accompany on a day out and good advice on stuff. They are national charity so should have someone in your area www.home-start.org.uk/ You can just phone your local one yourself and say you would like a volunteer. Really highly recommend. It gets better smile

That might be an idea news, thanks smile I am a Homestart breastfeeding volunteer though, so I know a lot of the local vols. I wonder if that might make me feel a bit awkward?

milkysmum Tue 04-Mar-14 23:11:55

I'm a new lone parent. H left at the weekend and I'm in the early days of adapting to a new routine. I work full time Monday- Friday 9-5 and have two children age 5 and 2. I'll definatley be watching this thread for tips myself if that's ok?!

Hi milkysmum! Sorry that it's happened to you too sad I hope you manage to get a few tips from here, and also share anything you have worked out helps a bit smile

sleepdodger Wed 05-Mar-14 00:49:22

Banana cookies blush
Make mornings quicker for breakfast on run and totally healthy with bonus of kids thinking they've had a treat...
Mash 2 past it bananas with 100g porridge oats, chuck in handful of rasins and half a teaspoon ground ginger and ground cinnamon
Make into shapes put on baking paper bake at 200 for 10-15 min

So we do get up get dressed, glass of milk and BC in car... Saves about 8 min of porridge cook and cool time plus endless pre and post breakfast faffing

AnandaTimeIn Wed 05-Mar-14 00:57:13

It WILL get better as they get older not much use now I know

One of the best tips I got from an American single MOMs smile site is to MAKE YOUR BEDROOM INTO YOUR APPARTMENT.

Get all (only) your stuff in there, books booze etc. Anything you need to chill out in there and lock the door

Yes, it works.

Ooh, that is a fab recipe sleepdodger, I will give them a go one I've picked up some bananas.

I still have DD3 in bed with me Ananda, so my bedroom is not much of a safe haven at the moment! But I am trying to make a bit of time to look after myself, in amongst all of the child-wrangling. It's a good thing really, as I didn't do much of it before this happened.

milkysmum Wed 05-Mar-14 14:35:56

HI Char. Yes when I have any tips I will definatley share! I contacted tax credits today (not thinking I would be entitled to any but someone advised I check). Looks like if i reduce to 30 hours tax credits would top up so i wouldnt really lose much! I am thinking of asking my boss if I can do 9-3 which would make such a difference rather than getting in at 5.30- 6pm. I would actually get some quality time with dc's as could pick the eldest up from school rather than her having to always do after school club etc.. Fingers crossed my boss goes for it.
I am also loving the sound of those banana cookies to save time in morning!

I hope your boss goes for it, that'd make your life a bit easier. I'm not working at the moment, have been a SAHM for 6.5 years. I'm hoping to get back into the workplace though, just need to figure out what I want to do first!

foolonthehill Thu 06-Mar-14 09:55:38

My tip;
if there is a milk round where you live then sign up even if it is just for one (expensive) pint a week...it means if your life goes terribly wrong/you are ill and you can;t get to the shops mr milk and more can deliver bread/eggs/etc to your door

i have 4 DC, no family near and work from home....if I don't/can't get out then once or twice this has saved me (no delivery charge and offers are not bad...doesn;t have to break the bank.

Obviously this is just more immediate online shopping but helps

Monetbyhimself Thu 06-Mar-14 19:10:33

All fed, nond dead. I love it grin

milkysmum Thu 06-Mar-14 19:44:29

meeting with my boss tomorow to discuss reducing hours- fingers crossed we can agree on something thwt will mean life feels a bit less hectic.
kids love the banana cookies that someone posted a recipe for- and so easy and quick to makesmile

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