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Less obvious realities of single parenting?

(52 Posts)
Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 19:31:47

Just that really, I understand being a lone parent will be challenging but what are your less obvious day to day trial and tribulations?

You may remember my earlier post, we were being matched with a little boy but my partner decided adopting wasn't for him and left me before we got him home therefore, sadly, the adoption broke down. I'm still pretty heart broken, feeling like I've lost my son and am now considering life as a single adopter and having a general understanding of the realistic side of it would be good.

Thanks folks.

Ted27 Mon 18-Dec-17 20:13:45

For me its the decision making and the emotional burden which weighs most heavily.

You can sort the finances, juggle the day to day household stuff, but no matter how great your support network, at the end of the day its just you and them. The agonies I had about choosing the right school, and now trying to guide him in his GCSE choices. We have had a year of life story work, it was necessary, the outcome has been positive, but I bore the brunt of his grief and anger and absorbed it all. I have great friends, I can share a lot, but some things you just can't.

The biggest practical issue for me is juggling work and school holidays/sick/ snow days. Fortunately in 6 years he has had one day of school sick, which co-incided with a day I don't work. I have a very genrerous leave allowance of 6 weeks but there are 13 weeks of school holidays to cover. My son loves sports camps and goes to scout camps so I've managed, but its a struggle.

TidyBadger Mon 18-Dec-17 20:55:44

I remember you. (Nc)

Congratulations on the moving on. I really hope it all works out for you.
I'm not single so won't try and help with that side of it. Just wanted to wish you well smile

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 20:56:16

Thanks Ted27, I appreciate this. I hadn't even thought about what I'd do during school holidays with just me. I can see how the logistics of work, school, holidays etc would be difficult. My ex and I are both shift workers which had huge benefits as at least one of us would always be home but with just myself this would definitely be something to give thought to, I'd probably need a career change.

Not having that other half to share parenting decisions and hard times is something I have thought about but thought I was maybe having a wobble about this after planning our adoption as a couple. You sound like a strong parent.

I'm positive I could do it, the logistical side of things seems to be the barrier I'm putting up for myself.

Thanks again.

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 20:58:21

Thanks tidybadger, moving forwards the only way to get through this hideous situation. grin

Mintylizzy9 Mon 18-Dec-17 21:17:22

Yes, being the only decision maker is bloody hard.

It's relentless, I can't even go to the loo alone (tho this isn't exclusive to single parents!)

Dealing with sickness, theirs and yours. I had to take DS to a and e the other night and just as I'm putting my shoes on thought fuck I don't have change for parking, fuck he's going to be sat alone in the back of the car very distressed, fuck what if I can't get parked close to a and e. I was out of action with a bad back shortly after he arrived, I couldn't get myself up and down the stairs let alone a hefty toddler in and out of a cot (my parents basically had to move in in week 2 of me becoming his mum!).

I'm terrified of something happening to me and him loosing his only parent.

Can't tap out for an hour when he's pushing every button!

Just the day to day things like nipping to the shops or getting some housework or DIY done, impossible some days if he's hyper/clingy.

I don't know how people do it truly alone, my parents are great and are happy to help out with all sorts from babysitting to taking rubbish to the tip, today they came round whilst I had a day out with DS and cleared all the leaves and sorted the garden and covered up all of DS's outdoor stuff, something I've been needing to do for a few weekends but never got a chance to.

It's hard not sharing the responsibility, guilt, love and proudness I feel for him every. single. day.

Don't get me wrong there are LOTS of positives too, we are a little unit, and I don't have any conflicting opinions when deciding what's best 😁

The support network you think you have now will be totally different one your little one is here.

I've reduced my work hours so that I can do all the medical and therapy appointments and DS is not considered to be remotely mid or high needs.

I'm only now 2 years in really thinking about self care as I feel horrifically guilty at the thought of leaving him for something as trivial as me time!!!!

PoppyStellar Mon 18-Dec-17 21:17:48

Definitely the decision making and the emotional burden. The rest of the stuff - the support network, day to day practicalities, school holidays etc you can juggle. Once they're at school and you make friends with other parents they are generally very willing to do reciprocal childcare and I have found that some parents are willing to be extra supportive because you are on your own.

The emotional stuff is definitely tougher (despite lovely longstanding and long suffering friends being very willing to listen it's not the same as having a partner who 'gets it' because they're living it with you). However, honestly don't be put off by this. There are tough times on your own, but there are tough times in a couple as you know only too well. You are amazingly strong and resilient to be contemplating single parent adoption after everything that's happened. I reckon you'd be great at it.

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 21:22:44

Cheers Mintlizzy9 your parents sound amazing.

It's a big step to choose to do it alone! God, that must be a bit of a mare trying to do two things at once like be with your son and go to the bank at the same time. Hope he's okay now.

PoppyStellar Mon 18-Dec-17 21:25:04

minty is right self care tends to go by the wayside. I'm trying to claw it back at the moment!

And the bit about fear of your child losing their only parent if something happens to you - that's a common theme in my head. I try to drown it out with disco tunes and inane telly, and remind myself that whilst it's not impossible that something terrible could happen to me, it's much more likely that we'll just bumble along together til I'm a ripe old age (or at least until she's a fully grown adult)

B1rdonawire Mon 18-Dec-17 21:26:32

It's the practicalities of needing income vs child needing you at home, that are toughest tbh. All the best-laid returning to work plans fell apart when it became dramatically obvious LO couldn't cope with childcare. It took years to build up to even part-time work. I was very, very broke.

That said, it did get easier. And the entitlement to unpaid parental leave is a lifesaver for helping cover school hols. Still broke but less stressed!

It can be lonely for a long time - LO didn't sleep much and wouldn't be cared for by anyone else, so my friends circle immediately shrank to people who were willing to visit me at home, and go again if I couldn't soothe LO's distress that night. As I believe is common, most of my shiny "support network" vanished when faced with the reality of a placed child. New people stepped up, and have become amazing friends, but it was hard to lose the old friends.

Overall though - LO is AMAZING and far and away the best, most wonderful, funny, kind, sweet, brilliant child. I love my life with them.

Mintylizzy9 Mon 18-Dec-17 21:45:06

Sorry my post sounds very negative, those are the things I find tough but knowing what I know now I would do it again in a heartbeat, I really can't imagine life without him, not for a second!

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 21:50:43

Sorry Poppystellar I missed your comment earlier, we must have been typing at the same time. After the breakdown of the adoption and relationship I ended up with emotional, physical and mental exhaustion and have been worried about this being a risk of adopting and how to be the best parent while trying to recuperate. I can't imagine time for this crap when you're a mum.

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 21:55:41

Thanks B1rdonawire, finances is a daunting thought and the school holidays again! Defo food for thought. I know in 10 years (with current finances) I'd be in a much better financial position to adopt but part of me thinks will I regret missing 10 years of being mum to my child so I can plough money into the mortgage.

Heart and head is in a tug of war.

Mintlizzy9 I didn't doubt for a second but it is handy knowing the negatives. The positives are obvious. I'm realistic and like to make informed decisions especially when it's all about the kids.

alltheworld Mon 18-Dec-17 22:02:10

Downside for you and the kids is that they have to follow you around on errands at the weekends which isn’t much fun for them and slows you down. In the alternative you focus on the fun stuff dayside at the weekends and then break yourself trying to fit all the xchores into the evenings.
Always paying babsysitters ( unless you have family on hand) not just for nights out but also for boring stuff like pta meetings or appointments. So if you want to meet a friend for a drink you have to always ask yourself if it is worth the &30 quid sitting fee on top of the night out

Choccogoingcuckoo Mon 18-Dec-17 22:23:05

Alltheworld thank you. Juggling life single handed does sound like a daily challenge. It must be difficult and yes boring for the children. I'm currently listing potential sitters!

I think I'd need to re-train in a career with more child friendly hours for starters.

ClarindaDazzle Mon 18-Dec-17 22:24:11

I’ve been a single parent with a BC for 8 years and my AD was placed with me 6 months ago. I’d agree with PoppyStellar, the practicalities and logistics are doable with a bit (lot) of juggling and planning, but for me the constant decision making is the tiring bit. I don’t have any time for myself and I accept that as part of the deal but I am beginning to think about ways to find a small slot as I realise that I need something just for me.

I had a rough time during introductions and the last six months have been very up and down. It’s been hard smiling and nodding whilst screaming in my head that nobody else can possibly understand what is happening but reading threads here have been very helpful in making me realise that I’m not going mad. I worry about money and being the only bread winner and going back to work when I know that AD needs me at home, and sometimes it’s a bit pants when you are sat on your own at the nativity play or school concert when everyone else seems to be in lovely Mum and Dad cosy couples. But – I love my girls, they are amazing and I love being their Mum and wouldn’t have it any other way. I have only ever parented as a single parent so I can’t compare it to parenting as a couple, for me, it is my ‘normal’.

Ted27 Mon 18-Dec-17 23:00:50

I think you do need to think very carefully about your employment, both in terms of what you do and how many hours you work.
I used to work in training and event management, most of our events where daytime but could involve travel across the region, occasional overnighters/weekends so long hours. Also in the voluntary sector so statutory adoption leave/pay only, statutory sick pay etc. Pay ok for a single person but I couldnt have afforded to go part time. I loved that job, but it was never going to work as a single parent. I got a job in the civil service, a years adoption leave, substantial pay increase so I could afford to go part time, flexible working, standard 9-5 time job. Its boring but it provides what I need.
I don't think self care / me time is trivial at all, its essential.
As they say, before helping children put your own oxygen mask on first.
I appreciate I am incredibly lucky as I get adoption allowance which helps enormously. I work three days a week, I try to get all the appointments for my son on the two non working days, do household stuff, shopping etc, attend support groups etc, and yes I go to the gym or for a run. That leaves more of the weekend available to spend with my son. Even if its just a couple of hours a week you should try and find some time. Even the odd half hour - when my son had his swimming lessons, I never sat with the other parents, I ran up to the coffee shop for a quick half hour peace and quiet.

Choccogoingcuckoo Tue 19-Dec-17 10:05:34

It sounds like you folks are winning at parenting regardless of the challenges of doing it single handed.

Last night I was thinking about contacting our social worker today and asking if they'd consider just me adopting the boy we were matched with (as they were looking for couples or singles) but after sleeping on it I'm not sure what to do. I'm having a real battle with myself. They might not even let me anyway and they might have other prospective parents lined up for him.

If the decision makers ruled I couldn't be his mum I'd be sure and definite in my decision to wait a few years until I'm fully on my feet and in a better position financially by reducing the mortgage and in turn working hours. Which is making me question if I'm just being selfish to consider asking as I've obviously got emotional attachments to him.

Help, overthinking is in overdrive (or is this what you're all talking about making decisions on your own!)

Queenofthedrivensnow Tue 19-Dec-17 10:11:53

Please keep going. Bring a single parent is challenging but as a single adopter you will be a child's whole world with no distractions - which will be exactly what lots of children need.

I'm not an adopter just a sw but I am a single parent of two. Every year we get closer and become more of a team.

PoppyStellar Tue 19-Dec-17 11:49:31

I think you have absolutely nothing to lose by asking the question of the SW. It might be the right thing to proceed with this match or it might not but you will regret not asking more than you will regret asking I think.

It's really hard to know when you'll be in the right place emotionally and financially. I guess that's probably a decision only you can make but it might be worth doing a kind of pros and cons list (I don't mean this to sound trite I hope it doesn't I just find that writing things down sometimes crystallises thoughts in a way that just thinking in your head can't).

In my experience there will always be something that could be better (having more financial stability, feeling stronger emotionally) and if we wait til things are at this mythical (and perhaps unobtainable) idea of perfection then we'd never do anything. You just have to sometimes trust your gut instincts.

In terms of emotional resilience, it is hard, as others have said, but the thing I've found interesting over the years is that when things are really tough you somehow find strength to carry on because you're in the moment and because you're doing it for your child. Even if, when you look back at the time objectively, you think 'blimey how did I cope with all that'!

Choccogoingcuckoo Tue 19-Dec-17 16:19:15

Thanks Queen and Poppy. I typed out an email to my sw and then deleted it! It felt strange to open lines of communications again as I've not had any contact since the breakdown meeting.

I've decided to wait until after the festive period as I'm riding on emotions at the moment.

Italiangreyhound Tue 19-Dec-17 20:18:19

Choccogoingcuckoo I think it is worth asking, just so you will know.

I'm an adopter but not single. I think work is key, paying enough to support you and child but flexible enough to work. Some jobs are term time only or allow for flexi or home working through remote access.

If you pursue this child and it works out, great. If not, you may have time to get into a career/job place that will work for you as a single adopter.

Please do look after yourself. Prioritize your own needs when/while you can.

flowers good luck. Xxxx

Choccogoingcuckoo Tue 19-Dec-17 20:44:37

Cheers Italian. There's really so much to consider and I think having gone through the process and been approved as a couple I know only too well the small obstacles that have potential to grow into huge hurdles depending on the views/perspective of placing sw.

I think that's why I'm holding back because I can't see myself how I can deliver a stable home environment on my own when I work shifts and can't see sw placing a child with me before those changes are made?!

Other than that obstacle I personally think I'd be a great mum and provide a happy, safe and loving home. grin

BubblesPip Tue 19-Dec-17 20:52:03

I’m a single parent to an 18 month old.

It’s much much harder than I ever imagined, but also incredibly rewarding.

These are the aspects I struggle most with:
-Working and having a poorly dc. Every time my heart wins over my head, resulting in being very very broke. Having any sort of career for the foreseeable future is unlikely.
-The financial burden. Knowing it’s you and only you bringing money into the house.
-Making important decision regarding health and wellbeing. Just having someone to talk things through with would be amazing.
-Knowing I’ll never have ‘me time’.
-Not being able to go out ever after bedtime. Every.single.evening is boring and lonely.
-Feeling like an outsider and always feeling envious of your typical families.

But most of all, I find it very hard to not have someone to enjoy the special times. When I feel proud, I don’t have anyone to enjoy that with. I tend to send friends and family a ridiculous amount of texts and photos, just so that I can feel like I share it with someone.

B1rdonawire Wed 20-Dec-17 08:47:40

@BubblesPip <fist bump> I am with you on the first 5 of those! Eventually I decided despite extreme broke-ness that I had to find a regular babysitter. It took ages to get a great one who would spend time getting to know LO in day time first, but now she comes 1 evening a fortnight for 2 hours (after LO's bedtime) and it allows me to just get out. I don't always do much with the time, but it helps me a lot to know those nights are scheduled in advance and it keeps me going.

on the other nights if you're bored I am likely to be on MN and respond pathetically fast to a PM

Choco At risk of this turning into a "problem list thread" I have thought of another - if your support network hinges on your parents/the next generation up, what happens if they become unwell and even end up needing your care? Hopefully unlikely, but I depend heavily on DM and there have been times when she's needed me to take care of her (and so naturally she's been physically unable to help with LO). We all survived but those times I really felt pulled in two, when DM and LO both needed me. Thank the Lord for a very, very understanding employer!

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