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Single parent truths?

(17 Posts)
SicknSpan Tue 20-Dec-16 16:49:27

I’m going to post this and run, but will come back later and read through I promise. Just need to get honest opinion on whether I just need to suck it up and get on with it all as this is what it’s always going to be like or if I’m going wrong somewhere and it will get easier soon- I need to make some significant changes to my life if not -no idea what though! <maniacal unhinged cackle twitch snort>

Have 3 dc, 12, 8, and 2 (so secondary school primary school and nursery)

I work 4 days a week, my commute with 3 separate drop offs is 1hr 15 so not too bad. Out of the house by 07:30 Mon-Thurs and back by 6.30.

There is the usual smorgasbord of after school activities and childcare ferrying about as well as weekend sports stuff too, of course- that’s just what comes with territory isn’t it though smile

We live in the middle of nowhere 15 minutes away from the nearest town with any amenities, so most of our free time is spend traipsing about backwards and forwards from there, seeing friends running errands picking up bits and pieces etc.

STBX has children every other weekend 18:00 Fri to 17:00 Sunday.

I am exhausted. I’m never on top of the housework (major understatement!) and could not dream of people just popping by as it is such a tip. By the time the children have all had dinner/done homework/maybe had downtime if they are lucky/are all in bed (eldest goes up at 9) I make lunchboxes/sort uniforms work clothes etc for the next day sometimes eat dinner (more often Weetabix) stick a load of washing on empty and reload the dishwasher try and tidy the inevitable mess created by 4 people and then collapse in bed. Although I don’t sleep very well at the moment and am doing well if I get 4 hours a night. And repeat.

I don’t want to sound like I am whingeing because I chose this, STBX and I separated in January by mutual agreement. And I know so many people will have it worse than me, we have a roof over our heads for the foreseeable future, food, clean clothes and good people in our lives. I feel like a terrible mother though because our every waking moment seems to be filled with doing jobs and I am dragging them round from one place to the other to get things done. But doing them badly I fear. Our opportunities to have fun together feel so limited and I am scared that I’m missing out on their childhood because I’m so busy (and by extension so are they). I of course feel guilty that ex and I have made things this way, but am not questioning the decision to split which was made for all the right reasons.

I’m lonely too. But that’s an aside. Is this what being a single working mum is like? Just existing but not living? Or am I doing something wrong?

abbsisspartacus Tue 20-Dec-16 17:03:19

Its early days yet the eldest kids can help out making lunches packing bags tidying up etc routines are key to everything when your a single parent

charlybear7 Tue 20-Dec-16 18:41:15

Sicknspan - I feel like this too!

The only thing I have for me is that I run! I run to the shops (I have a running buggy - my lifeline), I run whilst my eldest is at clubs, parties or friends houses! I just run whenever I can for me as I have nothing else.

I too have days where I think there has to be more to life then the same relentless jobs!

I get 4 days a month childfree as my ex has them every other weekend and I find I look fwd to it for a break - which makes me feel so guilty.

I could do with some tips to enjoy life more rather than get bogged down with rushing around doing chores!!x

Starlight2345 Tue 20-Dec-16 19:21:13

The 12 and 8 year old can help...
My 9 year old takes rubbish out, sorts underwear, tidies own room, feeds g.pig.. those are his normal jobs.

Look at any ways to reduce load, can you do internet shopping ?

Have you thought about planning a family time...Sometimes it is really important even if it s story together.

HappyHedgehog247 Tue 20-Dec-16 19:54:48

I've automated everything I can automate. Online order delivered every week. Same sandwiches. Same routines.

Self service for anything that can be.

7.30-6.30 is a long day with a young un. Is there any way you can reduce the commute? Move house/change job/work from home one day/try taking weds off instead of Fri.

This is the hardest it will probably ever be. 2 is young. It's still your first year.

Used to feel guilty on weekends when DC with dad. Now just enjoy it-relax, go out, catch up with the mantra that to be the best mum I can be I have to be happy and thriving not surviving.

Maybe they can do less clubs?
Lowering my standards helped!
X

queenofthebucket Tue 20-Dec-16 20:04:43

I found that after school activities, although important, cut into important time I wanted to spend with ds when he was not at school. Is it possible to cut down on any and free up some time you could spend at home together after school/work on an evening in the week. It may make home feel like the place you just go to sleep if you see what I mean.

I only had one ds though, so hats off to you.

SicknSpan Wed 21-Dec-16 12:42:56

Thanks for replying all. Sorry some of us are in the same boat!

Yes I must get some routines in place. At the moment I feel really ungrounded and as if things happen by luck rather than judgement so need to bring it all back into control. Money is a big issue and so I'm trying to source supermarket food bargains but maybe I need to see if I can cut back elsewhere to take advantage of time saving through online deliveries.

I dont think moving is really an option as we would be totally uprooting our lives for it and so the time benefit would be massively overshadowed by the impact of that. New school new friends wouldn't see family- it's only 30 miles away but might as well be 300. I'm trying so hard to keep things consistent for them, think this is one I'm going to have to take on the chin isn't it!

The after school stuff doesn't impact on my time with them as they would be doing after school club anyway because of me being at work. But I guess I do need the older two to step up a bit more in terms of jobs though- I have felt so guilty to date about them being out of the house until such a late time that I've just let them chill if there is any free time after homework. Maybe we need to make our 2 weekends a month together about chilling and enjoying time together (with exh the other 2) and make the week about work of one sort or another.

Gaaaaaah!

Starlight2345 Wed 21-Dec-16 13:19:15

Do you meal plan? I am not very good at it but do know lots of people who say it saves a fortune...I do often cook joints of meat. It means there are often left overs for next meal. Do the brand down challenge if you buy heinz for example buy shop brand if you buy shop brand by value.
I buy rice, pasta as value, beans shop brand, buy seasonal veg or frozen is cheaper..
Have you price checked your gas and electric.

Don't feel guilty you are doing your best..I tell my ds you are part of this family and as such I expect you to help as part of the family..

OllyBJolly Wed 21-Dec-16 13:39:06

You've just described my life in the early days. It was relentless - like being on a hamster wheel getting nowhere. With hindsight, I could have moved house to somewhere more central (had a similar commute) but then I would have been away from my friends who were a tremendous support. HappyHedgehog is right - this is the hard time. I found it got easier as the DCs got older and were able to help more.

I had a cleaner. 2 hours twice a week made such a tremendous difference. Once a week a friend picked the DCs up from CM and gave them their tea - and made my dinner. That was so appreciated! I would regularly have her kids to stay over on a Saturday night so she and her DH could go out.

My DCs are in their 20s now and think they had a great childhood so don't think they were too scarred by the experience. I found it tough.

BlackeyedSusan Thu 22-Dec-16 00:41:56

what about reducing the stuff you do at the weekend that is non essential?

what do you do on the day you are not working at work? can you batch cook that day? do the shop?

you need more sleep. you will function more efficiently when you get more. breaking the cycle to achieve that is bloody difficult though. [pot kettle black]

oldlaundbooth Thu 22-Dec-16 01:01:55

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but can't your ex have the kids one week, then you have them the next? One week on, one week off? Works for my BIL and his ex.

Why does he only have them every other weekend? It's not enough.

pullingmyhairout1 Thu 22-Dec-16 01:10:39

It does get better, I promise. It's not easy and sometimes I still drop the ball but things definitely get better.

charlestrenet Thu 22-Dec-16 01:15:20

I agree that this is the hard bit. Once they're all out of nappies and can dress and toilet themselves you will be amazed at how much more smoothly things can run, just because you're not doing five things at once for hours at a stretch.

I'm not convinced by the mumsnet mantra of batch cooking - you still have to shop for and cook the bastard stuff. If you can afford a cleaner, great, but most people can't. As for the older two being responsible for their own rooms - yeah, good luck with that. By all means involve them with putting clothes in the laundry bag (and emptying pockets etc) and general tidying, but ime they won't do it right without a fair amount of supervision, which yes, again, takes up your time. Washing dishes, ditto - you'll probably end up doing them again yourself.

So I guess what I'm saying is [steel yourself] yes, this is exactly what it's like ime. There just is no magic wand available to take away the work of running a house and the time and energy needed to parent that would otherwise be done by another adult. And it is fucking hard. The one thing I would say is try to get as much house stuff done on your day off as you can, and then at least you'll have a fighting chance of spending some nice time together at the weekends instead of chores eating into it all. And hang on in there. It does get better.

JenLindleyShitMom Thu 22-Dec-16 01:26:17

Mine are 11 and 7 so similar ages to your older DC. These are the jobs that are their responsibility. They do them now mostly without prompting.

DS1 (11):
Opens his curtains and window in the morning
Puts his laundry in the bathroom wash basket
Opens the downstairs curtains
Feeds the cats
Empties the dishwasher
Gets own breakfast
Makes his lunch
Brings the bin out weekly
Keeps an eye on the main bathroom (I don't use it) and uses wipes to clean it if needed.
Puts an easy dinner on
DS2 (7)
Opens his curtains and window
Puts laundry in bathroom basket
Feeds dog
Makes his lunch
Gets own breakfast
Fills dish washer with breakfast dishes
Brings bin in weekly
Also keeps an eye on bathroom.

They both also do extra jobs (vacuum a room, dust, clean out the car, load washing machine and set) as required, usually without protest.

It makes a huge difference to me. Especially in the mornings when we are all rushing. They work on autopilot now so these jobs just "happen". I can literally just sort myself in the mornings now.

In your shoes I would also think about spreading your hours over 5 days to shorten your days. You may feel a bit more in control of your evenings if you have a bit more time to get everything done and a bit of relax time.

Also think about what meals you are having on working days. Aim for stuff you can pre prepare and just heat. Do a bit of double cooking and freezing in batches.

It is hard, and tiring. I have found December exhausting For some reason. But having a good routine that flows makes a massive difference.

JenLindleyShitMom Thu 22-Dec-16 01:34:01

I hang laundry to dry while DC are in the bath. It's dry by morning, they both know that any uniform that isn't in their wardrobe will be in the hot press. (Nice and warm too!) I set the machine to go on for the next evening so it is done just in time for bath time. I iron nothing.

Set yourself a bedtime. If DC are all in bed by 9 make your bedtime 10 and whatever isn't done by ten then tough shit, you can sort it in the morning if it is needed. Your sleep matters. I speak from vast amounts of experience.

JerryFerry Thu 22-Dec-16 03:58:01

I think you've got it quite hard with the 3 drop offs and long days. It doesn't allow for much quality of life. Sorry OP

abbsisspartacus Thu 22-Dec-16 21:18:21

You don't have to batch cook but you can (for example) pre prep things like veg and freeze them in portion bags (I regularly use a base for sauces and casserole which is onion/garlic etc I have bagfuls in the freezer ready to go) slow cooker dump bags portion a meal out freeze it then put it in your slow cooker overnight to defrost just switch on in the morning 😊

Just have a few go to things in the freezer you can do fast (fish fingers and chips?)

Set aside days you need to do something ie homework must be done Wednesday beds changed Thursday etc

I need to practice what I preach really but on an ideal week this is how I run things

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