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New to being a single mum - please give your tips and tell me it gets easier.

(28 Posts)
Lokilocks Sun 29-Jan-17 15:01:40

I'm usually a lurker on MN only chipping in the odd time but thought I'd turn to those who know best.

My OH and I separated at the start of January. We have a one and a half year old and so far the separation has been mostly amicable. I realise I'm lucky it's amicable and I'm still working part-time with the help of two family members and nursery two half days a week but I just feel like I can't get on top of anything.

I'm trying to keep on top of cooking, cleaning, shopping and bills but I'm always completely exhausted and before I know it everything's piling up again. I have no idea where to start with money where tax credits etc are concerned and am in a near constant state of stress.

I don't have many friends so feel like I've nobody to talk to about how hard I'm finding it. When DS is with his dad at the weekend I get so lonely and depressed. I feel like I've lost my best friend (OH), even though things weren't working.

Does anyone have any advice on how to stay on top of everything? Were you able to continue working? What can I do to just make life easier and less stressful for me and my son?

Rachelshakes Sun 29-Jan-17 15:08:10

No advice but didn't want to read and run as I think I'm gonna be in the same situation as you very soon.

Lokilocks Sun 29-Jan-17 15:37:28

That's awful Racelshakes sorry to hear that. Hopefully we'll both get through it. Knowing that things can't go on the way they are and that the relationship might have to end is horrible.

Thanks for your post. I hope things get better for you.

Mumandsome78 Sun 29-Jan-17 16:31:32

I am one year in. It gets easier. But it is challenging and surprising things hit you hard. Ensure plenty of support from your ex in terms of having the kids so you can rebuild your life. Pursue hobbies. Take up activities with a very limited link to your old life etc. that's kind of how I've coped

Ineedmorelemonpledge Sun 29-Jan-17 16:56:20

Two years in here but DS is 12 and learning to be self sufficient (and he makes a lovely cuppa so that helps).

I work full time with a 30-45 min commute.

I have to stick to routine. I meal plan for the week, and although I love to cook I have resigned myself to some evenings with pizza, or ready made lasagne and bagged salad to stay on top of things.

I really use my weekends without DS (he's with his father EOW) to get on top of things. A good scrub of the bathrooms and a proper clean up, a big shop and some baking and batch cooking. I make and freeze soups etc for the week. I try not to do too much cleaning in the evenings as it really knackers me out, just cooking and clearing up, getting school stuff ready etc.

I work through my lunch hour to leave on time. A couple of nights a week I have really early nights to stay on top of sleep. I get up 30 mins before DS and put in a wash, hang out clothes get out clothes ready. Then while he eats breakfast I unstack/stack the dishwasher etc.

I have loads of lists and reminders on my phone. It is a juggle though, and I'm lucky with the age of DS I think.

Happydappy99 Sun 29-Jan-17 17:00:43

2 years in and it does get much easier. It took awhile but now we have a rhythm and routine to our lifes and I manage to stay on top of everything.

Online shopping is my friend and also keeping a carton of long life milk in the cupboard and a loaf of bread in the freezer.

pallasathena Sun 29-Jan-17 18:39:41

Make lists, they really are your best friend and tick off each job done. Ten jobs done equals a treat! Bar of chocolate, glass of wine or a new book/magazine all for you.
Worked for me.

MsGameandWatch Sun 29-Jan-17 18:45:06

It doesn't get easier, you just get used to it. Also you and your kids become a team and it's actually really brilliant most times not to have to manage an extra person/adult and take their opinions and needs into account with everything.

That said we were away this weekend and it was all families with two adults, as far as I could see I was the only single parent and I felt we stood out a bit and it would have been nice to have someone to share the load with as it was a busy weekend. Later though when I get into my big double bed that I don't have to share and all is quiet and peaceful, I will just remember the laughs my kids and I had this weekend and how we three bounce off each other.

ginswinger Sun 29-Jan-17 18:53:35

We are routine queens! Washing gets folded each time I'm in the kitchen, meals get planned on Sundays, beds get changed on Friday night and so on.... I choose my battles carefully, don't stress about the small stuff and I'm on top of my money. A 20 minute call to the tax credits people will sort it all out. Just keep your NI number next to you before you call.
Check out Gingerbread.org.uk if you're in the UK.
And chill. You're going to be ok. I've been a single mum for 6 years and it's great.

iremembericod Sun 29-Jan-17 19:00:26

I've always worked ft with single parenthood

My best advice is 'let it go'

So yeah it does mean compromising on fancy dinners that take ages to cook, a house that could be slightly cleaner, a washing pile that could be slightly smaller...

Perfection is not possible when you actually do it all

myusernamewastaken Sun 29-Jan-17 19:08:14

Im 3 years in but mine are all teenagers...its ok but i do miss my old life...its scary when something goes wrong in the house and there is no one to fix it....

iremembericod Sun 29-Jan-17 19:40:37

Yeah. You can do with sourcing an odd job man.

My neighbour's adult son is always useful for me in doing basic maintenance jobs for a couple of quid. I know I should probably learn to do some basic repairs but honestly CBA

Summerb Sun 29-Jan-17 20:35:45

Lists, calendars and plans are the way forward!
It takes a few weeks/months to start getting into a routine but don't beat yourself up. One big thing I learnt is no one cares if your house is immaculate they only care that your ok 😊 x

EmilyRosanne Sun 29-Jan-17 20:45:44

I've been seperated since just before Christmas, it is not particularly amicable with ex but he is there for the DC, my youngest is only 6 months so it has been really hard but generally I feel like a weight has been lifted, the relationship wasn't working and he was just another person to tidy up after/worry about. I love having whatever I want for dinner, going to bed when I want and having the bed to myself. On a practical level I have no advice as i just about muddle through to get everything done. Don't be too hard on yourself, if DC are fed, warm and happy your doing an excellent job. Online shopping has become my best friend. I know what you mean about losing your partner. As much as we weren't happy, I spent 7 years of my life with exDP and we did share good times and grew up together really. After he picks up DC I do feel really sad that we will never have that connection back. Time is a great healer flowers

SheRaaarghPrincessOfPower Sun 29-Jan-17 21:07:41

I think it does get easier. It just takes a bit of time to find a routine that works.

What works for me is just trying to stay on top of things. It's taken me a while.. When the kids were with their dad I spent time streamlining things to make every day stuff easier. Got bills organised so I knew what was going on financially.

I get an online shop every week, makes things so much easier. At least twice a week we just have a really easy tea. You'll find stuff that works for you.

As far as tax credits are concerned, get on to them straightaway and just ask for the claim form.

One step at a time. It will get simpler, you'll get used to it. It's all very new still.

Ineedmorelemonpledge Sun 29-Jan-17 21:09:27

Oh yes definitely to a few cartons of Long Life milk in the cupboard, and some loaves in the freezer.

The freezer is definitely your best friend - you can freeze butter, milk, cheese, ham and eggs for whisking.

And be kind to yourself. brewcake

Lokilocks Sun 29-Jan-17 22:43:27

Sorry for coming back late I didn't abandon just had to look after my nephew.

Thanks so, so much for all your replies. I'm a bit overwhelmed, I didn't expect so much help and good advice. I'm sitting with a notepad jotting down the tips. I'll definitely have to start online shopping and stop feeling guilty when I can't make everything from scratch or the house is a bit untidy.

I like the sound of 'routine queen' gin and a bit of chocolate and wine pallas and getting the whole bed back is an upside I completely forgot about.

Emily sorry to hear that you've separated recently too, I hope this thread has helped you as much as it has me. And thanks for the tea and cake pledge smile

Every comment has been so helpful, thank you all for taking the time to give advice. As I said, I don't have many friends and none who are or have been single mothers so I really do appreciate it.

pinkunicornsarefluffy Mon 30-Jan-17 10:31:40

I have been a single parent for 5 years now and the best advice I can give is to chill out and let it go. So if you don't have time to do something, then don't do it. The world won't end if you don't hoover the carpet or if you have beans on toast for tea. Make life as easy as possible for yourself.

Regarding tax credits, make the phonecall. They may be busy for the next couple of days with people trying to ring in before the 31 January deadline, so either be prepared to hold on, or leave it until 1 Feb, but do ring them. You will need your P60 from last year and your latest payslip and also the OFSTED number of the nursery and the amount that you pay for childcare each week.

Also ring Council Tax and get your 25% sole occupant discount. You could also ask if they will spread next years payments over 12 months. Not all councils offer it but most do. You won't get two months payment holiday then , but its more beneficial to me to spread the cost over 12 months rather than 10.

Check your utilities and make sure you are on the best deal for electric, phone, broadband etc.

Keep working if you can, if you have good enough support and hopefully with a tax credit top up you will be ok financially.

I have an online shop delivered once a week as I don't have the time to go supermarket shopping, the nearest ones are 20 miles from here. I buy an annual saver plan so can have a £40 shop every day if I want, but find once a week is enough grin.

Switch to own brand where you can, and treat yourself to a couple of things that you really don't want to change (for me it's keeping Heinz salad cream and tomato sauce).

My house is a tip, but me and DD are very happy and I work full time self employed around her school/clubs etc.

Bunkai Mon 30-Jan-17 11:39:15

Sort out what you and your DS are wearing & need to take to work/school the night.

Get yourself a hobby when DS isn't there. Or start to talk to other people when you take ds to eg swimming lessons. This will slowly start to build your social circle. When you're ready check out Matthew Hussey you tube videos. He's a dating expert but also gives advice on improving your social self confidence.

I have a box of essentials for if things run out eg tomato sauce, couple of tins, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, washing powder & softener, hot chocolate, tea bags etc. Keep small milk in freezer too. That will help enormously if you find you've ran out on a night when DS is in bed.

Bunkai Mon 30-Jan-17 11:42:24

I have two current accounts too. The one my wages etc go in pays for bills then I transfer out a set amount each month for groceries and credit card. It helps me keep track of what I can spend each month.

Though work out your monthly outgoings each month as some months are much more expensive than others.

SheRaaarghPrincessOfPower Mon 30-Jan-17 12:09:01

Yes to at least two account. I have three, because I find it easier. Main, which salary goes into. A special one just for Tax credits (because it's 4 weekly so confuses things), and the childcare bill goes straight out of that one. Also a house/bills account. That way, all expenses are covered.

Everything is covered by direct debits and standing orders, and then I know that what's spare in my main account is actually spare, and not earmarked for something else.

pinkunicornsarefluffy Mon 30-Jan-17 13:52:07

I also have monthly directs for all bills, just one current account, but I do have several savings accounts and save £1 a week for DD's pocket money, £10 a week towards holidays, and another one that I save whatever I can in for extras.

Regarding what Bunkai says above, yes , you need to budget your yearly expenses monthly too. Moneysavingexpert website has a great too for this, where you put in annual costs like birthdays, holidays, and irregular things like haircuts, family birthdays, and it works out how much a month you need to cover everything. It can help you to cut down on costs too.

CharlieBoo Mon 30-Jan-17 18:23:17

This is really helpful thank you!! Regarding tax credits, what do you need to be working? I do some cash in hand cleaning jobs but obviously need to start declaring in order to claim tax credits. Dh has not left but I think it's very much in the offing and I'm trying to be prepared.

pinkunicornsarefluffy Mon 30-Jan-17 19:21:09

You need to earn st least 16 hours a week if you are single with one child

pinkunicornsarefluffy Mon 30-Jan-17 19:21:31

*Work at least

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