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Single parent life hacks!

(90 Posts)
Niquos85 Wed 14-Oct-20 10:24:11

Hi everyone!

I've actually been separated for a year and a half so feel like I should be on top of things! However, as I have 2 out of 3 kids with CAMHS input and a non cooperative DH, I feel like I am drowning! Please hit me with your best single parent tips for nailing day to day life! Thanks x

OP’s posts: |
superduperthanksforasking Wed 14-Oct-20 12:57:42

Not really tips as such but know you can do it and don't doubt yourself.

The other is set an alarm on your phone for 15-20 mins and do a quick wizz round after the kids have gone down. Doesn't matter how knackered you are you will thank yourself in the morning and it doesn't build up.

Don't let anybody judge you, beans on toast is a fine meal if you haven't been able to get to the shops/exhausted/sick etc.....

Always have a pint of milk/bread in the freezer to defrost overnight when you realise at 10pm you've none and you can't just pop to the shops.

megletthesecond Wed 14-Oct-20 14:03:38

Milkman. It's not cheap and not in every area, but you can usually add to it the afternoon before.

Tiredtiredtired100 Thu 15-Oct-20 22:56:40

My top back is to not expect everything to always be done and not beat myself up about it. I have days where I manically clean the house and others when I don’t bother and both are fine.

Other than that I have about a million alarms telling me to do things and I see them on repeat for the same time every day and don’t switch them off until I’ve done whatever that chore was.

Tiredtiredtired100 Thu 15-Oct-20 22:57:11

*top tip not top back (whatever that means)

HPandTheNeverEndingBedtime Thu 15-Oct-20 23:10:45

ALWAYs have enough paracetamol, calpol, carton of long life milk and ready meals or soup ready in case you are ill and can't go out for a couple of days. More important now then ever.

I keep Dds cotbed duvet all made up in a drawer in case she's ill in the night, that way you don't need to faff around with sorting out bedding, she's 11 now and not used the duvet properly for at least 8 years but it's super handy.

After being admitted into hospital unexpectedly when pregnant and not having anything to hand I've kept a hospital grab bag ready for the two of us. Nothing major a 2 pack of cheap PJs for both of us, tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, 5x pack of underwear each and inexpensive change of clothes (leggings and fruit of the loom t-shirts) for both of us. That way I can grab it and go or one of my parents can get it and bring it to us. Particularly important for single parents who don't have anyone to get them things if admitted.

Day to day, the normal stuff that you mean to keep on top of, get clothes ready the night before, bags packed, lunches made in the fridge, if I'm particularly good cereal in tupperware so just have to add milk.

It's ok not to live in a show home don't forget to give your kids 15 mins of 1:1 time a day, uninterrupted with no devices for any of you. That 15 mins will make a big difference.

Niquos85 Fri 16-Oct-20 06:40:07

Brilliant thank you! Xx

OP’s posts: |
SusieSusieSoo Sat 17-Oct-20 05:56:51

Those are all really good tips thanks all! Had to defrost the emergency milk last night...must restock today!

OhioOhioOhio Sat 17-Oct-20 06:01:46

Also always have a gold coin for the tooth fairy. Empty the bin before it needs it. Try and have cash in the house, even a tenner for emergencies. Shepherds pie and other one pot food is the best treat on earth. Think way ahead with plans. Always have stamps. Buy time with one lazy tea, pizza.

Tashtegotoo Sat 17-Oct-20 06:20:41

For me, 18 months into being a single parent everything was still really raw and traumatic. You have a lot on your plate so keep being kind to yourself.

We always have beans on toast Sunday evening so I can start the school week with a clean kitchen without having run madly round clearing up my mess.
I cook in bulk and freeze a lot so that I make a lot of mess in the kitchen at weekends/holidays and not after school each day.

I've only one child at home now, a teenager so things are easier for me in lots of ways. However his mental health isn't great and his dad only sees him 3 times a year for a week/2weeks. So I am very on my own,my kids are my only family in the country I emigrated to. I've got a good group of friends that I can talk to and off load onto when things get on top of me. I now accept any offers of help that come my way rather than being 'polite'.

I try hard to be frugal with meals and every day life so that we can have fun occasionally. We don't suffer but we eat food in season, eat a lot of cheap (free-range) eggs etc, and minimise waste so we can do the things that are important to us. I'm a teacher so I'm not badly paid but last year I didn't have a permanent job. I was always really conscious of saving up to cover any big emergency bills.
I always read the tips for a more organised life on threads and often pick out one to try to help me.

I've had a lot of counselling over the last few years which has really helped me cope with everything that's been thrown at me. It's made me better at telling people how I feel and not bottling stuff up.

DC likes routine, likes being independent and also being helpful so I try to use that to our advantage. It's about playing to everyone's strengths I think.

This might not have helped you too much but it's been helpful for me to reflect on what I do, so thank you.

KarmaNoMore Sat 17-Oct-20 06:32:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KarmaNoMore Sat 17-Oct-20 06:38:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KarmaNoMore Sat 17-Oct-20 06:42:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Niquos85 Sat 17-Oct-20 06:49:59

OhioOhioOhio

Also always have a gold coin for the tooth fairy. Empty the bin before it needs it. Try and have cash in the house, even a tenner for emergencies. Shepherds pie and other one pot food is the best treat on earth. Think way ahead with plans. Always have stamps. Buy time with one lazy tea, pizza.


I have been caught out many times by teeth falling out unexpectedly 🤣

OP’s posts: |
Niquos85 Sat 17-Oct-20 06:54:55

Tashtegotoo

For me, 18 months into being a single parent everything was still really raw and traumatic. You have a lot on your plate so keep being kind to yourself.

We always have beans on toast Sunday evening so I can start the school week with a clean kitchen without having run madly round clearing up my mess.
I cook in bulk and freeze a lot so that I make a lot of mess in the kitchen at weekends/holidays and not after school each day.

I've only one child at home now, a teenager so things are easier for me in lots of ways. However his mental health isn't great and his dad only sees him 3 times a year for a week/2weeks. So I am very on my own,my kids are my only family in the country I emigrated to. I've got a good group of friends that I can talk to and off load onto when things get on top of me. I now accept any offers of help that come my way rather than being 'polite'.

I try hard to be frugal with meals and every day life so that we can have fun occasionally. We don't suffer but we eat food in season, eat a lot of cheap (free-range) eggs etc, and minimise waste so we can do the things that are important to us. I'm a teacher so I'm not badly paid but last year I didn't have a permanent job. I was always really conscious of saving up to cover any big emergency bills.
I always read the tips for a more organised life on threads and often pick out one to try to help me.

I've had a lot of counselling over the last few years which has really helped me cope with everything that's been thrown at me. It's made me better at telling people how I feel and not bottling stuff up.

DC likes routine, likes being independent and also being helpful so I try to use that to our advantage. It's about playing to everyone's strengths I think.

This might not have helped you too much but it's been helpful for me to reflect on what I do, so thank you.


Thank you, this was really helpful! Love beans on toast Sundays! I try to do that once a week too but doing it on a Sunday is a really good idea! I know what you mean about trying to be polite and not accepting help. I've started to realise I need to be a lot kinder to myself. I'm waiting for counselling too so hopefully that will help me to move forwards. And for anyone else that this may help, I've written a 'self care list' with anything that makes me happy/calm/relaxed and I make sure I do things from it every day. A simple one I have on there is having music on in the kitchen so I'm always singing and dancing while I'm cooking and cleaning and when the kids are driving me mad it's a lot easier to cope with!

OP’s posts: |
Niquos85 Sat 17-Oct-20 06:57:24

KarmaNoMore

How old are your kids? Do you have them 24/7?

My way to survive when DS was young was to go to sleep at the same time at him (I was exhausted anyway) and then I would wake with no alarm, well rested around 3 hours before he did, which gave me uninterrupted time to do some yoga, read, keep the house tidy and get ready for the day. It also gave me a better start of the date as by the time DS woke up I was sorted and could concentrate on getting him ready rather than trying to do two things at the time.

I also used to do menus, and used a part of Sundays to cook all the main meals of the week (Believe me you can do easily 3 mains at the same time you are getting the one if the day ready). I also doubled the portions when I cooked with half of it going to the freezer for busy days. If I organised myself properly, that meant one afternoon of cooking and then no complex cooking at all for two weeks.

Menu planning is also great to save you money as you buy what you need and nothing goes to waste.


That's a really good idea. I was good at that pre- separation. Everything got chaotic when I was just trying to get through each day! My kids are 5, 7 and 13 (2 of them have additional needs so it's very hard!). He has them every other weekend and every Tuesday night. X

OP’s posts: |
Niquos85 Sat 17-Oct-20 06:58:23

KarmaNoMore

Use long life milk, especially if you have teens. I normally get 12 litres so I don’t have to spend petrol several times a week to get fresh milk that doesn’t fit in the fridge. (I only go to the supermarket once a fortnight)


I've never even tried it! Does it taste the same?! I wouldn't have even thought of this! It's going on my shopping list!

OP’s posts: |
GreenLeafTurnip Sat 17-Oct-20 07:23:19

I'm not a single parent but always looking for tips on how to make mum life easier. I admire you ladies going it alone! Just want to say that long life milk takes a while to get used to (it doesn't taste the same but where I live fresh milk is rare and expensive!) But it is so handy not having to buy it every other day!

HigherFurtherFasterBaby Sat 17-Oct-20 07:58:35

Long time single parent here. It took me around 2 years to get over the shock of it.

Some of this is echoing what others have said.

- Good supply of basic medications

- Good supply of long life milk, pasta, rice, beans, frozen jacket potatoes, soup, instant mashed potato, super noodles or whatever other basic food you and the DC like

- Weekends that the DC are away, batch cook and freeze. Because sometimes you're exhausted and can't be arsed to cook.

What extra needs do your DC have? I know you said CAHMS but that's a broad net. My middle DC (9) has Autism and ADHD, I've just been diagnosed with ADHD and I'm still on the wait list for Autism Assessment. My youngest (4) has multiple allergies so that takes up extra time too.

HigherFurtherFasterBaby Sat 17-Oct-20 08:05:57

And definitely do not feel like the house has to be spotless 24/7. Balls to that.

My house is clean but untidy blush The dining room/playroom is untidy. My kitchen always has a stack of pots. My living room is toy free and kid things free so that it's a nice cosy room for us all to sit in of an evening and at weekends.

DCs are great at keeping their bedrooms tidy, my eldest 2 share and my 4YOs room is a tiny box room so only has her bed and a set of drawers in, so that's always tidy. My bedroom is okay ish but I work from home and my degree is mostly online now so that's created chaos in there. Bathroom is clean but has 2 laundry baskets in that are always full.

I do laundry at weekends only. Saturday is for washing and drying, Sunday is for putting away.

I recently got a dishwasher and that's been life changing grin

Sodamncold Sat 17-Oct-20 08:08:38

Military organised

Overplan for everything

Be on top of everything

See it as a job in itself and one that you went to succeed a more than anything else in life

Sodamncold Sat 17-Oct-20 08:21:21

Encourage your children to take ownership of their bedrooms.

That every other weekend and Tuesday - incorporate some time for yourself.
And also make super productive - so change bedding and launder, thorough cleans of bathrooms, fill up car with petrol, do any dump runs, etc etc

Niquos85 Sat 17-Oct-20 08:25:51

@HigherFurtherFasterBaby one has been diagnosed for autism and one is waiting for adhd assessment.
I'm loving these suggestions everyone, thank you!

OP’s posts: |
Dotinthecity Sat 17-Oct-20 08:48:11

Keep your sliced loaf in the freezer and just take out sliced as you need them. Add red lentils to bolognese, mince, and chilli and butter beans to chicken casseroles. It bulks them out. Buy a block of cheese and grate it. Keep half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer (you can use it from frozen for sauces, pizza,etc,.) When you're shopping, always scan the reduced aisles and be prepared to try some new things if it's a good deal. Keep a good supply of frozen veg in the freezer. Meal plan and shop to your meal plan. In Saturday's we always had "Bottom of the fridge soup" which was made of any limp looking veg, odd bits of unused ham\bacon and a gin of tomatoes. I added lentils or a tin of baked beans to bulk this out. I'm no longer a single parent but still carry on these habits. My freezer is full of really nice seeded bread, reduced to 35p a loaf as well as other reduced price bargains. We don't waste much.

OhioOhioOhio Sat 17-Oct-20 10:34:06

Mine are now all at school but I'm realising that I need to get up early and basically go to bed at the same time as the kids, hopefully I'll start to manage to encorporate some exercise into the day that way. Love the baked beans on a Sunday for tea. My childhood was filled with roasts on a Sunday. It's hard to shake that feeling. Agree to batch cooking when nothing much else is going on. I've realised that I don't have the headspace to manage at other times.

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