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To ask: what is your life honestly like as a working single parent?

(80 Posts)
KeepItToYourselfPlease Tue 27-Sep-16 22:20:20

I'm struggling. Or do I need to make some changes? I'm a single parent (not through choice) I work part time (take home a lot of work) and have a 3 year old.

I feel like my life is chaos. At the end of my working week, my house is a complete tip, I leave the house at 7.30, arrive home with DC at around 5pm. By the time I have done dinner, bath and bed and got started on work I have to get done, had a shower because I don't have time to have one in the morning, there's just no time for anything else house related.

I feel guilty because in the mornings I have to put 3 year old in front of tv so I can actually get me dressed and presentable for work, lunches and breakfasts done, and DC ready for nursery.

It just feels like a hamster wheel. Trying to make sure I don't forget anything, for me or DC, negotiating tantrums, trying not to be late for work, painfully aware that my performance at work and income is so crucial now I'm on my own. Its really bloody hard not having someone else there to share the load.

Is this just the way it's going to be for now? I think I just need to know there's an end to this! sad

Notcontent Tue 27-Sep-16 22:38:42

Well, some things will get easier - e.g. Getting ready for work in the morning. But yet, it is tough, on so many different levels. I work four day a week so now that dd is at school, I have one day a week to sort out the house and any other life admin. Could you afford a cleaner? That obviously helps too.

KeepItToYourselfPlease Tue 27-Sep-16 22:42:54

Couldn't afford a cleaner at the moment, nursery fees see to that smile

I think when DC start school I could look at that.

Having such an untidy house and frantic daily routine doesn't do much for anxiety levels! blush

Shylo Tue 27-Sep-16 22:43:11

It will get better as your child gets bigger and they can get ready in their own ...... The rest of the hamster wheel, not so much in my experience although I have just for a cleaner and although she's only been twice its made a massive difference to my stress levels. A grubby house is one less thing I have to feel quietly about now

mustbetimeforacreamtea Tue 27-Sep-16 22:44:52

Hang on in there. Once dc is a bit older and can help with keeping things tidy it will improve. Learn to relax your standards - as long as you are both happy, healthy and presentable for work/daycare the rest doesn't matter. When dc is old enough to play with friends without too much supervision invite friends round regularly. You can get loads done while they play or have a bit of much needed downtime.

Don't forget to ignore any criticisms from anyone not in your position.

aLeopardanditsSpots Tue 27-Sep-16 22:46:40

When does your dd see her dad? Assuming she does of course.
I work full time single parent to a 6 yo ds. It is tough, constant rushing around. My house is also a perpetual tip, I could do more but sometimes after a long day at work I just think fuck it and slob out after homework tea and bath is done.
It does get easier, my little one can dress himself no tantrums and knows the routine well enough some days I don't have to remind him to brush his teeth. I'm lucky that he goes to daddy's on a Saturday morning and get the occasional Saturday night out or home alone.
A cleaner would be my dream come true.

HavingAnOffDAy Tue 27-Sep-16 22:51:21

It will get easier (or so I tell myself!)

I work full time & have 2 DC (9 & 5)

I try get up early (6am) so that I can shower & get ready before the DC wake up. Then I can supervise breakfast & stop them from killing each other.

I also try & do what I can in the evenings so that I can just concentrate on getting us all out of the door in time for school & work in the mornings. This doesn't always work though as by the time I've done tea, bath & bedtime I'm knackered.

Like you I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel. One that's going a bit too fast for me & I keep losing my footing.

You're not alone flowers

Cakedoesntjudge Tue 27-Sep-16 22:52:00

I second dropping your standards. Some weeks I keep on top of the house work, but more often than I care to admit I'd die of embarrassment if someone turned up unannounced. As long as DS is fed and has clean clothes I give myself a break.

It helps to prioritise things firmly in your mind. My list is:
- DS
- Other family/friends
- Uni/Work
- Housework

Most nights I'm exhausted. If I'm exhausted I'd rather get an early night with an hour to relax beforehand instead of using every spare minute to try and make the house presentable. That hour of peace and quiet can make you feel a million times better.

A glass of wine tends to help too wine

KeepItToYourselfPlease Tue 27-Sep-16 22:52:29

Thanks for your replies. smile

Ex has DC EOW so I can catch up then, although 2 weeks build up of stuff to sort can be overwhelming.

Its just a bit of a lonely and dredging existence at the moment. I teach very young children so it is literally at least a 12 hour day of endless patience testing!

AdaLovelacesCat Tue 27-Sep-16 22:52:49

honestly it was shit.
My main memory is running, running, running, from nursery/playscheme/childminder to work. Oh and the kids screaming 'mummy mummY MMMUUUMMMEEEEEE'
Meanwhile their dad just slagged me off and did not see them or pay for them.
It was fucking fucking shit.
I have now been sucked dry and have exactly 1.27 to my name.

lokijet Tue 27-Sep-16 22:53:04

it does get better or you get better at it - i hadn't really realised that being a single parent mean never getting a day off until he started school and I got a few hours onto days i don't work. (no other parent involved)

try not to do everything and accept that somethings (in my case housework) will slip

lostoldlogin2 Tue 27-Sep-16 22:54:12

I was a working single parent (32 hours a week more or less )until my son turned 5 when I met my partner.

Its hard - but it gets easier. The housework is hard to keep on top of - no way could I have afforded a cleaner. Impossible. I used to forget everything on a friday night - stay up late with my son watching a movie till at LEAST 11 o'clock (we never got home before 7:30pm) so that he would sleep in on Saturday morning so I could get a rest.

I continued to do my sport (boxing) but trained between 8am and 10am 3 days a week and worked from 12 - 5 those days and longer hours the other 2. I would skip in my back garden on the days I didn't go to the gym. This was to keep something for me that wasn't work or mothering and being very very fit (literally fighting fit!) helps a lot with the challenges of single parenthood.

Understand that people who haven't been through it don't understand. Don't have too much clutter in your house an here's the big one - if possible - own masses and masses of charity shop clothes - literally enough for both of you to have a different out fit every day for 3 weeks and then every 3 weeks outsource all your laundry to a service was. Costs about 40 quid. saves literally hours and hours and hours of your time. By the time you have run a washer and a dryer and paid for detergent and softener and all that you are probably at 20 quid anyway - so the extra 20 is the indulgence but it makes life about a zillion times easier.

batch cook when you can be arsed - don't feel bad when you can't.

go out for dinner now and again with your child to an adult restaurant - I did this with mine and it was lovely - broke the drudgery and exhaustion to get us both dolled up and go out together.

Teach your kid to help with small stuff from now. for now it will just keep him occupied - but then you will end up with a 5 year old in the future who can clear the table, seperate the clean washing into "mine" and "mummy's", make you a piece of toast (george foreman grill no risk of knife insertion into toaster wink ) dress himself, put his own clothes in the laundry basket (or bin bag for the service wash grin take the rubbish out etc etc.

I promise. It gets a LOT easier. Hang in there. star

AdaLovelacesCat Tue 27-Sep-16 22:54:38

...and I would not advise to 'let housework slip' unless you want a visit from social services and a report made about your sluttishness.
And before anyone starts, yes that did happen.

J0kersSmile Tue 27-Sep-16 22:57:36

My life is a hamster wheel.

Work mon-fri but finish at two. College one day, and my other job is two evenings a week and the other two evenings we're out the house doing taekwondo.

What saves me is working term time. I make the most of our weekends and we're usually doing something but if I need a day doing fuck all then I have a sofa day.

What helps is having slightly older dc at ten and nine they have jobs. They wash up some nights, take the bin and sort recycling and they sort and put away clean washing. I tidy up properly Friday after work and once in the week but because we're out so much it doesn't get dirty just messy where we're rushing.

I cook loads so there's leftovers when I cook but they do eat junk. Macdonalds once a week, a couple of ready meals and we go to my nans for tea for tea once a week. It's a case of junk or a late night and they need sleep.

Do what makes life easier for you, I always recommend paper plates on these type of threads. It means one less job (clearing up breakfast ect) and we always do baths in the evening and getting clothes and bags sorted the evening before otherwise it'd be so manic in the morning.

Carve time out for yourself as well or you'll burn out.

Iflyaway Tue 27-Sep-16 22:57:37

Yes. It's hard. It's a non-stop slog....

And will be for the next forseeable.

Do what you have to do. Work, parenting, the basics.

Like the Buddhist Lama said. No one on their death bed is going to say I wish I'd spent more time at the office, or kept a cleaner home....

Remember, you can't do more than you have to to keep you and your child safe, clean, and relatively happy. And you will find the strength for it.

If you have people to shout out to, do it. And don't forget - we are doing an amazing job. Even though we are vilified....
Don't let society's attitude get you down.

I'm 25 years down the line, and if I can do it. Anyone can. You fall down and pick yourself up. Cos you can. Every time. You have to because it's the only way.

You will find so much strength in yourself, you won't believe it....
Remember, always better to bring a child up alone than in an awful relationship. You are also teaching her to be powerful on her own too as she grows up.

Wish you two all the best!

HelenaDove Tue 27-Sep-16 22:59:48

A bloke using SS to abuse his ex. Whod have thunk it!

missymayhemsmum Tue 27-Sep-16 23:00:07

Sorry, but having been a working lone parent for most of the last quarter of a century I have to tell you that this is your new normal. There will probably never be enough hours in the day or enough money at the end of the month. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing there will be somewhere else you are supposed to be, and someone blaming you for not being there, most often yourself.
So give yourself a big pat on the back and a cheer every day you get through with enough work done not to get the sack, your child's basic needs met, bills paid and the house not actually a health hazard. Any day that's better than that you deserve to open the cava!

Be nice to your rellies, especially the ones who love your child and will do fun stuff with him so you can catch up with the boring stuff, and cultivate your friends, especially other single parents so you can make each others lives a bit easier/ help each other in emergencies.

Yes, if you are doing really well your life will feel like it's a hamster wheel. On a bad day it'll feel more like a lost hamster under a trashed sofa with a lurking cat.

KeepItToYourselfPlease Tue 27-Sep-16 23:01:14

Thank you all, it really helps to know it's normal to feel this overwhelmed!

I think at the moment its the 3 year old aspect that is the hardest. When I've had a really tough, long day at work and 3 year old is just driving me mad at dinner and bath with usual irrational 3 year old stuff, tantrums etc, and the realisation that there's no one there to take over and give you a breather can be quite a grim one.

Puppymouse Tue 27-Sep-16 23:01:21

I think you're incredible for just staying on that hamster wheel OP. I feel like you describe a lot and I have DH to share the load with. I hope things get easier to manage soon flowers

HelenaDove Tue 27-Sep-16 23:04:21

Im childfree by choice and i bloody admire single parents and honestly dont know how they do it.

lolo14 Tue 27-Sep-16 23:04:45

I am a single mummy and work full time, up at 06:00 each morning with three year old DD. Try and do my cleaning and what not before we leave the house at 07:00. Sometimes I feel like I am going insane trying to remember everything for the day. Somehow it works although, if I take a step back and assess what responsibilities I have, it's scary! In bed by 19:00 each night (that's both of us!) Rest is so important.

IWantAMooseCalledDominic Tue 27-Sep-16 23:04:50

You are not alone flowers I could have written your post honestly (and had been thinking about doing so!). I keep beating myself up for not doing more in the evenings as I know (think?!) it would make my life easier but honestly when I get back downstairs after putting Ds to bed I'm go fit for one chore, not 10!
I'm praying that when Ds gets a bit older it will get easier.

Muddlingalongalone Tue 27-Sep-16 23:08:39

You're not alone on the hamster wheel. I feel like I'm in constant chaos & am just waiting for one of the juggling balls to fall & hoping it's nothing major.
I've got an under 2 & a 5 year old and whilst I can see it being better/easier when they are older, the prospect of another 3 years like this worries me enormously.
I've become a do what you have to do to survive & living day to day & week to week, but whilst I try to maximise the little time I have with dd's & ensure they don't miss out because their dad's an irresponsible twunt I am concerned that the perpetual chaos is bad for them & want to get a calmer environment where I'm less stressed but don't quite know how.

lostoldlogin2 Tue 27-Sep-16 23:09:17

I would definitely agree on not letting the housework slip though. I don't see why she would get a visit from social services at random........but simply for the reason that if your house is messy you will feel horrible and won't be able to properly relax even when you do have a moment to do so. Outsource the laundry - and handle the rest by doing a little every day after work and then a proper clean for an hour or two on your day off.

IWantAMooseCalledDominic Tue 27-Sep-16 23:09:35

That's the bit I hate the most too KeepIt.
When you are completely empty of patience and perspective, but you have to keep going as there is no one else to take over.

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