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To ask how single parents do it...

(46 Posts)
R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 19:03:19

I've been alone since DD was 6 weeks old and started working part time when she turned 6 months old. My DM took care of DD until 1pm, then I would pick her up and head home.

DD likes to be involved in cooking and cleaning and everything else which slows me down but hey ho, I'm used to it. It's always been this way and (most days) it is always fun.

My question is, as the title suggests. How do single parents do it? I shower whilst she's asleep, I have done every single 6am wake up, every night feed, every nappy change, toothbrush fight, bath time, food challenges alone.

DD is at pre school now, and last Friday I booked a sneaky day off work and just lay on the sofa and did nothing for 3 whole hours. It was bliss but I can't do that every week.

My DM is a busy caterer so I can't ask her to watch DD, all my friends are single so no help there, ExH - I have no idea where he is so no time there.

Disclaimer: I'm not complaining. DD is my whole world and I love her dearly. I think I'm just wondering how others did it/do it and if I'm missing a trick.


Squirmy65ghyg Mon 28-Nov-16 19:16:22

You're not missing a trick, am a LP too. It's how it is. Sounds like you're doing a great job. Would your pals take her or stay in while she's asleep so you can go out?

theclockticksslowly Mon 28-Nov-16 19:18:20

I'm in a similar situation to you - single parent, DD the same age, it's all me with not a great deal of help. I've got no advice except to agree it's exhausting!

Squeegle Mon 28-Nov-16 19:19:36

I know it's not fashionable, but tv is a great babysitter for early in the morning when your daughter is ok to be up on her own

PerryHatter Mon 28-Nov-16 19:20:01

Do what?
You're not missing a trick, that's just the way it is.

I realise I may sound arsey, I'm not intending to be grin

Starlight2345 Mon 28-Nov-16 19:21:01

Nope sounds like my reality..I would say it does get easier as they get older... My DS is in cubs and goes camping so get a lie in..Also now 9 I don't have to deal with him at 6am in the morning..Unless unwell/ etc.. not because he has decided it is time for the day to start....

Pineapplemilkshake Mon 28-Nov-16 19:25:39

Unfortunately that's the way it is. I was a single parent since my pregnancy until DS was 7. I would have a shower and get ready ultra early in the morning, and do housework after he went to bed at night. I worked FT when he was younger and had childcare from my parents. I didn't really get a social life back until I met DP, by that stage I was luckily working PT and felt less guilty about leaving him with babysitters when I went out.

R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 19:38:27

I've never thought to ask @squirmy, our lifestyles are just so different. They are nothing but loving to DD so I'm sure they wouldn't say no. Thanks for that, I might trial it for the works xmas do.

R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 19:40:47

theclockticksslowly, it is exhausting and constant. wine & flowers for you.

R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 19:43:10

Squeegle, I did this on Sunday blush. It was 5.45am and I couldn't bear going down so I gave DD her iPad for 30 mins. She was delighted and 6.15am was much more bearable.

Squirmy65ghyg Mon 28-Nov-16 19:46:47

Go for it grin

NellWilsonsWhiteHair Mon 28-Nov-16 19:49:19

Mine is now four and learning to amuse himself in the morning at weekends. 🎉 Best development ever, or at least it will be when we fully accomplish it: he's still learning what constitutes an appropriate 'emergency' to come and disturb me over (ie. its not "can you help with this toy" etc every seven minutes) and I am learning to relax and trust that he is safe and I can doze off again...

But yeah: having almost no time alone is very very hard. I think you adjust to it more as time goes by. Occasionally I feel desperate for a break, but 99% of the time I truly wouldn't have it any other way. I love our little family unit. And tbh I also love feeling like superwoman, when things are going well!

SmallTownTwirl Mon 28-Nov-16 19:50:13

I've two and been on my own since they were 1 & 4. That was 9 years ago. For years I just took it for granted and didn't question it, now I want more freedom, more money and more 'fun'. It's lonely, It's hard and it's lonely adn you're a bit marginalised sometimes. It's like, I've had nearly a decade of it and I'm so desparate now for something fun and light and happy to happen.

BitchQueen90 Mon 28-Nov-16 19:51:11

I'm in the same boat. DS (3.5) does see his dad but it's for one night every fortnight or so (mostly weekdays so I'm usually working anyway) so I do the bulk of it alone. My DM still works full time so no childcare help, I don't like asking her to have DS too often after her doing a full working week. I work PT and I'm studying for a degree with the OU. I devote most of my evenings to study and on the days I'm not at work it's food shopping, catching up with the house work etc while DS is at pre school for 3 hours.

I do admit that on workday mornings when I'm getting ready I let DS watch DVDs in my bed. On my days off it's less of a rush as he just does afternoons at pre school so we can go a bit slower! I never ever get lie ins, I think my body clock has adjusted to the early mornings.

To be honest even when I was with my exH I did the majority of childcare anyway. He was the type who would come home and sit in front of the TV because he'd had a hard day at work. He didn't think me looking after DS was work.

flowers to you all. It is exhausting but it's life. grin

willstarttomorrow Mon 28-Nov-16 19:53:34

I very suddenly became a single parent following DP's death. It is relentless and I am shit at it. No family within 200 miles and a very demanding full time job. It really is survival just a day at a time.
You sound like you are doing an amazing job OP. No advice as I am useless but I do think we tend to be harsh on ourselves. We cannot be two people physically, emotionally or financially.
Occasionally I am proud of myself but usually I just feel I need to be more organised and magically be able to get the same amount done as two people! And it is so bloody lonely!

scoobydooagain Mon 28-Nov-16 20:01:07

It does get easier, my ds is 7 now and its the first year I can scrape the car and leave him in the house, so little developments year on year. He does have sleep overs now (which means I need to host too).
I have got to say, I do appreciate what I have now, as until ds was 4 he did not see his dad and I was on my own with no family support (ds grandparents all dead) now I have a partner and ds stays at his dad's 3 nights a fortnight, so I don't think I can really class myself as a single parent anymore, even if I do and pay for everything as I do get a break and have a pretty good social life.

tomatoplantproject Mon 28-Nov-16 20:01:55

Use of cbeebies to grab half an hour here or there is totally fine. Be kind to yourself - it sounds like you are doing a fab job.

Its relentless having to work, parent, keep on top of cooking and the house especially when they are at that age so don't exhaust yourself (I go to bed at 9 so I get lots of sleep because lie-ins are rare).

It gets easier as they get older. Dd is now 4 and can happily play on her own for a bit whilst I clean or cook.

Keep seeing your friends - I have people round loads more than I did but friends understand the situation, and they get that its much trickier for me to get out so they come to me instead.

R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 20:02:12

You've hit the nail on the head there, I also feel like superwoman when things go well, I always tell DD, we rule our world.

Thanks everyone, I don't feel so alone reading your replies. X

R1nderCella Mon 28-Nov-16 20:08:04

I'm sorry for your loss willstarttomorrow, it can't have been easy dealing with the loss of your DP and becoming a single parent at the same time. I totally understand what you mean by survival a day at a time... ps, I'm sure you're a fabulous parent.

PoundingTheStreets Mon 28-Nov-16 20:17:52

I think the genuine answer is 'with difficulty' for a lot of LPs, particularly those with very young DC.

I was a single parent for the first 6 years of my DC's life. I had twins. I went back to work when they were 6 weeks old and was back full time by the time they were 6 months old. I left my then DP when they were 4 months old because I thought life wasn't challenging enough as it was wink (long story there but not relevant to this thread). XDP maintained an interest for about a year, but then pretty much disappeared apart from the odd Xmas or birthday and never paid any maintenance. No GPs on either side so I really was on my own apart from some very dear friends, one of whom I would lay down my life for she has been so amazing.

You get through it because you have to. You wouldn't be human if you didn't get exasperated hearing couples arguing over who does what when you're thinking 'but I have to do it all'', or when you hear someone moaning that their lie in has been cut short when you're thinking 'my last lie in was some time 2.5 years ago.' If you're going to survive it with any degree of enjoyment, you learn to be ruthlessly organised to minimise times spent on essential chores and maximise 'me' time. I batch cooked and cleaned up as I went along so that I never had to face weekends cleaning for example.

On a practical level, once the DC started sleeping through properly and I wasn't so thoroughly exhausted all the time, I found I could cope quite comfortably. I'm sure you will too. For me, the difficulty came with money and lack of fulfillment.

As a single parent with no maintenance coming in but a full time job requiring paid-for professional childcare, I found myself worse off than someone on benefits for the first 4 years of my children's lives. I often went hungry and had cardboard in my shoes because I couldn't afford to replace them. I felt I all I was doing was exchanging one set of responsibilities (work) for another (children) with nothing for me in between, and with no money there was no opportunity for me to go out to blow off steam or to spend money on retraining into something better trained. By the time my DTs were 4 and started school I had used up nearly all my resilience getting to that point.

However, once they started school and my childcare costs plummeted, all of a sudden there was a little money left over for socialising and retraining. Fast forward several years and I now have a life totally unrecognisable to those days sat in my own living room in fingerless gloves drinking a cup of tea from a reused tea bag. I have a great, challenging new career with a decent pay, promotion and pension package. I can't afford to be reckless with money but I don't have to think about whether I can afford a pair of shoes any more and my heart no longer sinks when I get a letter home about a school trip requiring £20 or whatever.

Once the money situation improved and I felt I could be me instead of only mother or employee, I actually began to really enjoy being a lone parent. Far from finding it difficult, I found it quite liberating. So much so that when i met my now DP I seriously considered not moving in with him because I liked being a single parent so much.

For me, I think the experience of being a single parent varies hugely depending on money and support. My advice to you would be to cultivate your friendships, particularly with other single mums. My single-mum friends got me through my darkest times, commiserating with me on bad days, cooking me a dinner if money was really tight (even though they often had none either), being on the end of the phone when the DTs left me at my wits end or my bank statement was still in the red after payday. And we'd share a bottle of wine and laugh til we cried when none of us could afford to go out anywhere but needed to let our hair down. Being single mothers too, they were happy to sleep on sofas etc and the DC would share beds in a way that doesn't really happen with couples.

Hang on in there. You will cope, and as you get more used to it you may find you actually love it. flowers smile

ghostyslovesheets Mon 28-Nov-16 20:22:44

you just do is the answer - what choice do you have BUT to cope

mine where 6/4/4 months old when I unexpectedly became a LP - it does get easier as they grow and I just have to stick to a strict morning routine or I would collapse

I get food delivered and pay the older 2 to clean in the week (badly!)

we often eat shit food because I get delayed at work (SW) and they need food quick (as their step mother once commented - 'is she not capable of cooking anything without chips and beans' (I bet her eyebrow was raised)

You learn to turn a deaf ear to people who have no clue - my kids are fed, warm, healthy and safe - and I survive on gin and running!

ItsJustaUsername Mon 28-Nov-16 20:28:41

I'm 8 years in and it definitely gets easier. Mine didn't sleep through till he was 3 years old! Everything is easier when you're getting enough sleep. No idea how I got through that I really don't. Still an early riser mind so I have plenty of early nights. Best tips for the future, try to do some of the school runs if your job allows, making friends with ds's friend's parents has been a godsend. We often look after each others kids, help out with drop offs/pick ups, take turns taking to activities etc and now they're all playing out we'll often call on each other to watch the kids whilst we pop to the shops or whatever. It really does take a village when you're a single parent.

Most of the time I just get on with it but I do have my wobbles with the sheer responsibility and the mountain of stuff needing doing everyday but they're few and far between thankfully. I just remember they're not kids for long, I had plenty time pleasing myself before Ds and I'll have plenty the time when he's flown the nest, hopefully smile.

Winniethepooer Mon 28-Nov-16 20:36:15

I envy all those saying it gets easier. 2 of my 4 dc are diagnosed with ASD & ADHD.

Working isn't an option.
No social life.
Very little money.
Crippling exhaustion.

No choice but to cope. I hate being a SPsad

Marmalade85 Mon 28-Nov-16 20:40:03

I've been a single mum for 4 months. My son is 11m old and I work long hours, full time with no family near so he is with a childminder. Currently being dragged through court for contact, and being harassed and bullied by my ex which means police involvement. It is tough right now, and sometimes I just burst into tears at the sheer frustration of it all. I don't drive and childcare is the same as my salary. I leave my tiny cold one bedroom flat at 7.15 and return after 19.00 in the evening five days per week. My flat is a complete tip and I'm exhausted. Glad to read some of the positive stories here - just keep going.

megletthesecond Mon 28-Nov-16 20:42:52

Badly grin. I'm 8yrs in and it's so much harder. I've just got another decade to do and they should both be at uni so I can catch up on sleep and housework.

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