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Help me find something to like about being a lone parent

(12 Posts)
secretskillrelationships Fri 12-Oct-12 00:17:41

Title says it all really. Absolutely don't mind being apart from increasingly EA ex and in new relationship with lovely man. But struggling with the sheer relentlessness of dealing with 3 DCs (DS1 (15), DD (12) DS2 (8)). Three years on and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I spend most of my time ferrying children back and forth and supervising homework, music practice, reading etc (most of which their dad doesn't do). Feeling increasingly resentful and bored.

Have made the effort to find things to do for me, and my life away from DCs is mostly pretty good - work is tedious and boss a bit of a challenge so it's not a case of grass being greener.

It's around the DCs that I am struggling with the sheer effort of it all. There is little joy or fun in our family and, having tried to change things, I'm running out of ideas, energy and inclination. I can't see anything positive at all in parenting alone and I hate dealing with all the decisions and discipline on my own. I hate the feeling that I have no-one to share anything with - it's not just the harder, negative things. I miss sharing the brilliant presents I've found for them for Christmas too.

Every little thing that goes wrong just serves to highlight just how much I hate being a single parent.

I know I have to find a different way to see the situation. Any suggestions?

Arseface Fri 12-Oct-12 00:38:20

Those are tough ages but in a short time your youngest will be at senior school and much more independent and your eldest will be able to ferry himself (and maybe the others?) around a bit more.

Despite being hitched now, I still sometimes think wistfully of my time as a single parent when decisions were simpler as I held the outright majority vote.
Although it's nice to share the good things with DH, it is irritating to have to take his different parenting style into account when disciplining or talking about serious stuff with the DCs.
It is tiring bearing all of the responsibility on your shoulders but you also get all of the credit and your household is your own.

On a practical note, can you back away from some of the supervision and get the DCs to be a bit more independent? Maybe they could take on a bit more responsibility for getting to and from their activities? Not feasible if you are very rural but public transport knowhow and bikes are heavily encouraged chez Arse!

Sometimes we keep doing things for DCs that they can happily manage themselves out of habit and because it's easier than forcing a change.

Can you sit down with them and work out some extra responsibilities they could take on now that they're getting older?

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 12-Oct-12 00:45:07

It sounds as though you could do with having a good time with your DCs. Would it be possible to schedule something that you all enjoy and can do together once a week.

secretskillrelationships Fri 12-Oct-12 00:55:20

Have tried to back away from supervising music practice but it just doesn't get done! DS2 definitely needs help with homework but others get on with it themselves but will put off doing it until Sunday (our only free day of the fortnight) which means we can't get out and do something fun. I do understand, they have a very full on week (they wouldn't be at their current school if I'd known their dad would bail but they love school and are thriving there so reluctant to move them even though I'm struggling with it as I feel I don't see them except to do the nagging bits!). It is time-consuming, expensive and difficult to get themselves home, though they do offer when they know yet another change to school plans makes it difficult for me. Often have 3 pickups in an evening (dad is supposed to do one but doesn't).

Not sure what credit there is to get - DCs are doing well at school but I think that's in spite of situation at home rather than because of it. Have a fantastic counsellor who is trying to help me see what a good job I am doing but, quite frankly, she has an uphill struggle on this one!

Know what you mean about sharing with another partner and have no plans to cohabit while the DCs are still at home as a consequence.

Keep trying to establish some form of chore system but it is complicated by the fact that there is no night of the week when they are all home together (DS1 finished tonight at 9 for example) and it just feels like another thing to remember.

secretskillrelationships Fri 12-Oct-12 01:00:56

Dione - I think you're absolutely right about us needing to have fun but struggling to come up with anything that fits the bill and don't actually have an evening a week with all three DCs. DS1 will refuse to do anything and has to be dragged kicking and screaming (encouraged out with the most sensitive and gentle handling) to do anything at all with the rest of us. Used to go to the cinema but now they can't agree on any one film so we end up separating. Did watch Dr Who together but now the elder two are getting very cynical about it.

Not trying to be difficult, just run out of ideas.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 12-Oct-12 10:26:24

Secrets, I am the eldest of 4. When I was in my teens (my youngest sibling was only 6 or 7) my mum called a "family meeting". Cue much eye rolling and muttering from us. At it, she honestly told us how she felt about the way things were going. She did not put forward any solutions (she didn't have any), instead she asked us what problems we had and what could be done about them.

We were all shock. Here was our nagging, know-it-all mum laying herself and our family bare. It made us all take a long hard look at ourselves and take some responsibility for the discord at home and work on what we could do to make it better. Sounds cheesy, but instead of just blaming us for the problems, we had to come up with solutions. It really improved things in our house. It also helped us to appreciate that mum was a real person with feelings and not just a dogsbody with nagging tendencies.

Which was pretty much how we'd been treating her.blush

Do you think you could do something similar?

secretskillrelationships Fri 12-Oct-12 16:25:21

Dione I have tried something similar and really didn't get anywhere. Have pointed out that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that we get on and have fun as a family. Have asked them to suggest things we could do as a family and, again, didn't really help. Eldest really refuses to engage at all and his moods bring everyone down. DD has said she's going to be a nice teen as she would hate to put her younger brother through what her eldest has put her through! Might try again with more emphasis on what they see as the problems and how those could be fixed. Difficult as DS1 takes everything very personally but still probably worth a shot.

MagicHouse Sat 13-Oct-12 01:34:14

I think you probably need to let them have responsibility for stuff like music practice. If it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done. I began to lose interest in piano playing mid-teens. My parents never supervised practice (and like you said I just stopped doing it) I gave up in the end (took it back up as an adult for a while though. Would giving it up really be such a bad thing?
Do they need to do so many out of school activities - can they reduce that a bit so you're not ferrying them around so much?
I sounds like, deep down, you resent your dh bailing out, and that is what makes you angry. I ended my relationship, which has been a huge help in how I feel about being a single parent (which is proud and happy, despite the difficult bits). Maybe if you can begin to really focus on the positives about being out of your relationship, it would help your outlook?
Can you change your job? Maybe think about YOU for a change and what it is YOU'd like to do/ which hobbies you'd like to take up rather than put all your energies into your children? It might help you to step back a bit from the relentlessness of it all, and give you a bit more mental energy to deal with everything.
Good luck. your counsellor is right - sounds like you are doing an amazing job!

daffydowndilly Sat 13-Oct-12 09:36:07

I was going to say, get yourself a counsellor and be realistic about how long it will take to see results, year/s. Change therapist if you need to.

I think you are sounding overwhelmed and change is needed. If you don't like your job, try and change it for something more inspiring with a new and better boss. Extracurricial activities are not important, perhaps cut these down so there is less ferrying, or choose things that the older kids can walk to themselves. Tell the children if they don't practice music the lessons will stop and don't sit and supervise. And at these ages, they can do their reading homework on their own. Tell them that if they don't take responsibility for their own homework that you will find consequences for them, getting a tutor to sit and do it with them like babies, or stop some activity they love. They need to learn self-discipline and responsibility. And you need a break.

EiePie Sat 13-Oct-12 09:53:28

Secret Hi, sorry no solutions just empathy!

I'm in a similar situation (without a relationship with a lovely man!). The whole weight of it is sometimes so overwhelming. If I'm not worrying that I haven't listened to DS2 read enough in the week, or got through DS1's spellings enough, or got DS1's hair cut, or chased DD up about the dirty clothes on her bedroom floor, or forgotten to get loo roll, it's the grass needs mowing (again! Bloody stuff!!), the car needs oil, car needs MOT, car needs blah blah blar...etc! Sometimes it's so full on it's funny - like when I've had to wash the same load of clothes twice because I've forgotten to take them out of the washing machine in time. But aside that, it's the responsibility for making ALL the decisions - and if they are wrong, it's all down to me. There's hardly a second when my mind isn't running with 'what I need to remember' and 'what I've forgotten to do'!! Sorry to moan. Some days are great. Unexpectedly have the children this weekend (ex isn't well) so decided to have a Chinese night with chop-sticks and fortune cookies too! This was followed by a cheap DVD for 'film night' They were all really excited and we all had a great evening. I think it's those times you have to hang on to and refer back to when things are really shitty. I read somewhere that if you are getting it right at least 70% of the time - you are doing fab! Sigh, I can only aspire to 70%!

Anyway, again sorry for the moan. I feel your pain! And send you a hug.

EiePie Sat 13-Oct-12 10:06:29

(P.S. Forgot to mention - this last week, on top of everything else, I've had to put up with bloody mice! Two got in my bedroom!! I had to sleep on the sofa for a week (not scared of mice but don't really want to share my sleeping space with the little blighters). Finally caught one in the mouse trap (gruesome!) but the second only got 'winged' in the trap and crawled into my (huge!) pile of clean ironing to bleed to death (^really really^ gruesome!!) So, all that stuff has to be re-washed - because I haven't got enough to do! Sheesh! )

secretskillrelationships Mon 15-Oct-12 10:25:21

Thanks for all the messages - been having a lovely weekend with lovely man so feeling much more positive.

Children do, mostly, take responsibility for themselves. The music practice is more that I know that they can only progress if they put in enough practice and if they don't they won't progress, get bored and give up. This is what happened to me so I know what I'm on about! They also have some considerable talent so it seems a shame to not make the most of it. Have been clear that no practice means I will drop lessons as money is tight enough without wasting it.

Youngest is the only one I supervise with homework at all, and he is still supposed to read to me every night. The DCs really don't do any extra curricular stuff but school is very full on with long days, matches etc, which makes planning difficult. Do try to lift share with neighbour but we can often find things change at the last moment etc.

I'm lucky in that I do have a fantastic counsellor - but am having to process a lot of stuff to do with my own parents separating (badly) when I was small and I'm very aware that this is clouding the situation too.

MagicHouse - you're absolutely right, I feel huge amounts of resentment towards my ex for bailing. I have absolutely no regrets about the ending of our relationship not least because of his behaviour since. Feel like I have to make up for his complete lack of engagement, though weaning myself off that slowly but surely. However, his lack of engagement with the DCs means that they tend to behave well for him and take out their frustration on me because they can! A lot of the time, I recognise that as a good thing, but there are times when it just feels very unfair.

EiePie - that's it exactly! Know exactly what you mean - and none of it goes away just cos you have a lovely many around at times either! Sorry to hear about the mice - recommend you get someone in. I did the humane trap thing until they chewed through the pipe to the dishwasher and ruined the laminate floor!

With regard to work, would love to find another job which is more meaningful and I am working on it. Have some big plans but the day to day grind tends to mean I lack energy and drive.

On the plus side, I have recently realised that I don't actually have to have the answer or know what to do all the time! This feels quite revelatory and I am playing with the response 'I don't know' to lots of different situations. Not good at asking for help either so trying to do more around that.

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