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How sorted is your day to day life, diet, body, home etc as a lone parent?

25 replies

betaglucans · 12/05/2023 10:38

Hello - as a single parent struggling, I'm referring here to parents who do the vast majority of the parenting themselves without a co-parent or family nearby to share the load with.

I was wondering how sorted others are compared to me- could you share how sorted you are in terms of the following?

Home - how tidy is your house, does it stay tidy most of the time, do you have days of chaos followed by tidiness or is it in a state of perpetual chaos?

Eating and cooking - how healthy are you and your kids, do you manage to cook healthy food every day or do you have some days or longer that you resort to super quick freezer food type or worse?

Exercise and health - how fit and healthy are you - do you manage to fit in daily or weekly exercise sessions - how happy are you with your health and body overall?

Social life - do you manage to have some semblance of this?

I'll go first in my first post below. I'm just trying to gage if i am normal or could do better!

OP posts:
betaglucans · 12/05/2023 10:44

Home - we veer between mostly tidy and chaos, I manage to mostly keep on top of things but if I let one or two things go for a couple of days it descends into a mini chaos. Could be better, could be a lot worse.

Eating and cooking - I struggle here with routine, as my child is fussy and refuses to eat my food! We have days where I am prepared and we eat a healthy meal then might go a couple of days where it's pizza from the freezer / frozen chips! I don't like freezer food but as my child is so fussy it is really hard. So we aim for a few good days a week but if I can't manage every day I give myself a break. there's so much organising involved.

Exercise and health - again I struggle to keep up any kind of routine here but we do a lot of walking (I do 4 miles a day most days) as we don't have a car. Sometimes I will manage 15 mins of yoga a couple of times a week and my child swims once a week. I could be fitter though TBH as my diet could be improved and I would like to lose weight.

Social life - very limited as I have no support for childcare and a limited single parent budget. So probably see friends a couple of times a month during the daytimes with a child in tow. Sadly it has dropped off since I can't ever really leave my child!

Overall I am fairly responsible but the load is a lot to carry on my own - organising all school stuff, food, after school clubs and trying to work as well myself is hard going. Not to mention 10 school runs a week plus every other social outing and appointment.

OP posts:
EatingWormsMichael · 12/05/2023 10:57

Hi! I'm a lone parent who does 100% of the slog.

I've found that I have to be totally structured about all of the things you are asking, otherwise they would all be rated "dreadful". I also give myself a break in terms of keeping expectations real.

My home is messy but not so bad I can't make it visitor ready within a couple of hours. I am realistic about the end result. It's not a show home and visitors won't be gasping about the interior design!

I'm currently trying to lose weight. Trying to squeeze in jogs while dc is at school and counting calories. It's frustrating to not just be able to exercise how and when I want due to childcare issues.

I don't exactly meal plan but have about 6 meal ideas that I always buy in for and decide on the day what we will eat.

Social life is the most neglected bit. I struggle to get someone to look after dc. I've managed to get out for friend's big birthdays, so it's sporadic and I can go months without going out. I do have some nice mum friends, we got out with the kids sometimes, I don't really count that as proper socialising tho (it's still childcare really!)

From experience I'd rather do all this as a lone parent vs with a useful dp! I'm happy with my life. Its certainly got easier now dc is older (8yo), it was a real slog when they were little.

EatingWormsMichael · 12/05/2023 10:58

*useless dp, not useful (that would be fab)

Shergill15 · 12/05/2023 21:48

Hi, lone parent here with no family support. Full disclosure:

Home: Disaster at the minute. Lot of maintenance/repairs need doing that just aren't in the budget right now, so it always looks a bit shabby. Due to dealing with a lot of personal stresses I've really let the housework go. We have enough clean clothes and dishes daily but there's a lot of clutter and certain areas are definitely in need of a deep clean. I'm trying to make a plan to get on top of it.

Eating and cooking: hmm, could be worse but could be better. I work 4 days a week so DD is fed by after school club - tends to be very simple/beige food from what I can gather. I dont make much effort if I'm just cooking for myself so tends to be a quick option. On the 3 nights a week we eat together I try to do something better but DD can be a bit fussy/unadventurous, so trying to work on this.

Exercise: Nothing structured for me, although we don't have a car so I do walk a lot. DD swims once a week and is about to start rugby. I'm definitely overweight and would like to change this but struggling to get motivated.

Social life: primarily seeing mum friends with the kids. Occasionally if the planets align might be able to catch up with someone on my non working day. Can't afford babysitters regularly so a night out is very rare, but will try to make weddings/big birthdays etc

Rainydaysgetmedown · 12/05/2023 21:56

Kids are early teens, late teen and uni.

house is tidy, have a cleaner once a week and I don’t have a partner to make a mess. Love it

I cook for all of us at night, they sort their own lunch if home. They eat pretty much anything and we sit down about 6.30

i do an excercise 2-3 times a week when kids are school and on the weekend

social life is good. I have a DP. Am just past the babysitter stage but used to use sitters for a big night out and local 6th formers if I popped out during the week as well as child swapping with friends

23Elfie · 12/05/2023 22:27

Single parent to 1 child here, goes to her dad every Friday and every other Saturday over nights.

Home - I'm fairly minimalistic so not much in terms of lots of furniture etc but DC has lots in their room which can get messy with toys and art stuff etc.

Food - not great. Same dinners most weeks which aren't that bad but we do really really need to eat more fruit and veg. I'm a terrible secret binge eater too.

Exercise - I play for a netball team so once a week is about it. We have to drive to school as too far away to walk. Then drive to work and part of the work is visiting places. My week looks like this - school run, work, school run, clubs, only free afternoon/eve is a Wednesday, usually park after school or a friend over to play.

Social - pretty good as I get every other weekend to myself but not always out every time. No plans this weekend and that's when the loneliness kicks in ... and eating way too much instead of using the time to exercise more

midnightblue12 · 23/05/2023 20:14

I'm a single mum with 2 children, ages 3 and 6.

Home / I try my absolute best. It's a priority of mine as I really struggle with mess and clutter. I can settle with mess so I try my best to keep everywhere tidy. That being said it's extremely difficult and overwhelming! Why don't children just put their stuff away 🙈 My house is clean and tidy though as I just can't settle with it not being so.

Eating / both children very fussy eaters. Limited food pallets despite me putting a lot of effort into their meals! I'm not an amazing or imaginative cook though but I do try my best.
Pre single parenthood I was very disciplined and proud of what I ate. I struggle now. I have an issue with binge eating chocolate and I hate myself for it! Keep thinking it'll get easier when life gets lighter 🙈

Exercise and health / none existent!!! Howeve to am joining the gym with the view of going once a week. I know that is such a small commitment but that's the only time I'm able to go. It will do wonders for my mental health if anything!

Social life / I don't have one 😔

midnightblue12 · 23/05/2023 20:17

* pressed send too soon! I don't have a social life. I can't afford to have one and I have limited childcare help. Even if I did find some spare cash and time I would feel too guilty so would probably end up spending it on something they need instead and rejecting the help!

IHeartGeneHunt · 23/05/2023 20:27

Lone parent, no family, no childcare other than nursery for 3 days.
One child.
Flat is cluttered because it's too small but it's basically clean. Washing always put away, hoovered every other day, washing up done.
I cook enough for 4 days twice a week, vegetarian/pescatarian so we get plenty of veg etc.
I don't get chance to exercise because on my days off she's always with me, and I can't go for a run with her or to the gym. We go swimming but that's for her, not me, I'm just in the water. I do walk everywhere I can and I'm a cleaner in a care home so I'm busy when I'm there.
No social life. Not at all.

Clareicles · 23/05/2023 20:52

Lone parent here 100% all me.
Flat oscillates between tidy and bedlam. I've trained my DS (nearly 3) to clean windows, so I blitz a room, he sprays the windows.
Food. I get fed at work (useful perk) and he has all meals at nursery, so it's just breakfast, something small for supper occasionally, and weekends. He's not fussy, thankfully, so that tends to work well. Did resort to fishfingers and chips last weekend because I'd lost the will.

Exercise extends to cycling half the way to/from work (drive to edge of city and cycle in) with a hefty toddler on the back of the bike for half the way till I drop him at nursery. Plus running between buildings at work. Anything by myself, you can forget it. No childcare and if I do charm someone into watching him, my precious free time isn't going to be spent in a gym!!
Which leads me to social life. This is something I remember having. Haven't been to the theatre since he was born. See also: out for a meal without a wipe clean menu, museum, gallery, cinema etc. Any childcare I beg off friends/family is used for when he's too poorly for nursery but not poorly enough for me to be off with him.

Its tough on your own

Wavescrashingonthebeach · 23/05/2023 21:08

Lone parent. Have a toddler and pregnant with 2nd.

Their father is involved but he rarely has our child without me. I have some limited support from my family.

Home- clean but messy. Can blitz it in an hour or so and takes toddler approx 8 seconds to obliterate my hard work into chaos!

Food- a mix we could be a lot better but we could be a hell of a lot worse! I'm shattered ATM with this pregnancy so doing a lot of easy stuff. It's a major source of guilt for me.

Exercise- lots of walking & swimming. Occasionally I get a gym workout. Again could be a lot better could be a lot worse!

Social life- no not really 😂. But I chose to have my baby and I prefer family friendly events. I haven't had an evening night out without him since before he was born. Doesn't bother me. Did all my partying when I was younger!! I still see family and friends and take DS plenty of places.

Finchgold · 23/05/2023 21:08

Lone parent to one.

House is tidy and clean but in desperate need of diy I can’t afford.

Meals are mixed. Trying to feed my fussy eater as healthily as possible. I don’t have much motivation for cooking so I tend to do beige food with a tonne of veg for me and fruit for LO.

I used to run loads but just get the occasional run now. It’s the thing I miss most since having a child.

Social life is pretty limited. Plenty time spent with other parent pals but not as much time spent with my best pals or doing fun things for me. Lack of time, money and childcare is a struggle. I’m trying to embrace having fun with LO though because that’s the phase my life is at.

Wavescrashingonthebeach · 23/05/2023 21:12

Just skimming through thread it's comforting we are all in similar situations. It is bloody hard and think we are probably all doing a lot better than we think. Can we all have a collective pat on the back I've got one here for you op in the nicest "un mumsnet" way possible.

Doghairismyglitter · 23/05/2023 22:30

100% lone parent here. 2 DC, 4 and 6.

Home - Washing always put away, paperwork filed, shoes and bags in the right places etc. Regularly hoovered and cleaned although can’t remember last time sofa was pulled out or did a deep clean moving heavy furniture etc!

Eating and cooking - mostly healthy, home cooked, although on 2 days a week when they have evening clubs, one day will be fish fingers, alphabet letters, peas, type variation and the other will be tomato soup and cheese toasty/crumpets type quick meal.

Exercise and health - would love to fit a proper exercise routine in but absolutely zero child free time to join a gym, and anything else means a home workout in the evening and I’m just too bloody knackered to find the motivation. Despite having a car, I walk all the school runs and walk to work and back as well in every type of weather though.

Social life - literally zero. Unless it’s a kid playdate/party. I work 5 days a week while kids are at school and after school club. Weekends they are obviously always with me. I miss all work Xmas do’s etc. Can’t remember the last time I socialised on my own with another adult (unless booking an hour off work to get my hair cut counts..)

Ive learnt routine and organisation are my friends. Accepting my house/life will never be picture perfect. And it’s all actually easier than being with a partner who makes life a hundred times harder. When they get older I think we will get our time to return to some hobbies and rebuild friendships. Their time young and needing us goes so quickly anyway it’s almost bittersweet.

Hubblebubble · 25/05/2023 11:03

Cleaning - the kitchen and living room get cleaned and tidied every evening. The bathroom and DCs bedroom are the next priority. My own bedroom is an absolute cesspit.

Cooking - Gousto x3 a week for healthy meals cooked from scratch. Always left overs. Other meals are simple, jacket potatoes and fillings/ fishmongers, chips and veg/pesto pasta.

Exercise - I have a fully remote job so I swim x 4 a week before core hours and go to the gym/exercise class 4 x a week on my lunchbreak. Still fat, but trying.

Social life - meet up with friends about once a fortnight on the weekend to do something with DC. Group video call with old school friends once a week. Lots of chatting with friends via messager. See a lot of gran. Get chatting to other mums at the park. Made some friends at my exercise classes.

Hubblebubble · 25/05/2023 11:03

Fish fingers not fishmongers

ScatsThat · 25/05/2023 14:35

Single parent to 3yo and 6yo. Parents help with childcare twice a week. Children's dad sees them about 4-6 times a year.

House: chaos. Always behind where I need to be with pretty much everything!

Cooking and eating: we don't eat out/get takeaways simply because I can't afford to. I cook everything, but do use readymade sauces or microwave rice for convenience. Generally quite healthy food, and don't beat myself up if dinner consists of beans on toast or something else filling, quick & simple every now and then. BUT... We eat early (4:30ish) due to the age of the kids so once they are in bed I snack like a fiend because I am so bored and chocolate and crisps have replaced my social life.

Exercise: non existent. I used to go swimming/gym regularly before I had kids, but can't afford gym membership and don't have anyone to babysit the kids regularly if I did want to go to a weekly class.

Social life: getting more mum-friends now that children are in school so often go to park after school or for playdates with the kids and chat to the mums. See my parents 2-4 times a week and my sister once or twice a month. See my actual friends (pre-mum friends) about twice a year.

meandtheboy · 25/05/2023 14:42


House: ok-ish most of the time with an occasional blitz when it gets too bad
Cooking: mostly fit round what my boy will eat and I really CBA cooking just for me
Health and Exercise: ha bloody ha
Social life: even more ha

BUT, it is all a lot better than it was this time last year when I was newly separated from abusive XH and didn't know what day it was half the time. So progress at least, and as an a PP says, I imagine we're all doing better than we think we are.

Plus side: My boy and I are much, much happier, even if we're a bit grubby and very skint!

betaglucans · 25/05/2023 17:13

thanks everyone. We are struggling a lot recently with cooking. I tend to just eat sandwiches and not often got energy to cook! I allow my son to snack on stuff when he gets in. trying to be better. My son usually has a cooked dinner for him but for me I just tend to cave in and eat sandwiches or whatever rather than cooked and healthy stuff. I probably manage to cook myself a proper nutritious dinner about twice a week at the moment. It's just not good enough. Usually just too exhausted from everything though and given my son won't touch the healthy food I cook there seems less point. This is getting me down at the moment.

OP posts:
meandtheboy · 26/05/2023 10:44

@betaglucans that's exactly how it works here - I'm just too weary by the end of the day and eat sandwiches instead of a proper meal; not doing my health or waistline any good at all...but often it's all I can be bothered with, so I totally get it.

re snacking, would it work if you offered your son unlimited fruit before tea, this works with my DS, especially atm when there are lovely strawberries, raspberries etc available? He also loves salad veg (prefers it to cooked) so for tea I sometimes just put out a big plate of veg for us both to choose from, with eggs or other protein on the side. He feels like he's choosing his dinner but in reality it's all fairly healthy and balanced.

Once a week I do very simple things like baked potatoes which can be put in the oven and then forgotten about, DS has his with beans and I have mine with salad, and another night I do an omelette with cooked veg which doesn't need much effort.

I think it's about finding a balance so that what you're both eating is nutritionally ok but not something that you spend hours making, only for him to reject it; keeping it simple is definitely the way to go!

awmum2b · 26/05/2023 10:45

Single parent to DD about to start school, always been a single parent so not sure if that helps the mindset of "this has always been the way it's been and I don't know any difference". Child's father lives in another country and visits for the day once every 3/4 months.

Home - I have a cleaner for 2 hours every fortnight, this helps me keep on top of things as I tidy round before she comes so she can actually get things really clean. After that it's reasonably manageable to keep on top of things. I also work from home 2 days a week so I tend to utilise my lunch break and when I'm boiling the kettle to get things done, little 5/10 minute jobs really help...although currently looking around and it seems like a tip. I have about 4 loads of washing to put away (my least favoured job) and the bathroom could do with a good scrub.

Food - Currently DD is at nursery so gets fed there 4 days a week, for evenings then it's normally something fairly quick, snacky and easy. Beans on toast, mini pizza, humous with carrots and cucumber, plain pasta, sometimes she's happy with some weetabix. I'll bulk cook at the weekend so we can have Spag Bol, tomorrow I'm doing chicken tikka in the slow cooker as she has a day of bday parties to be ferried to.

Exercise - This was one of the plates I stopped spinning, I used to be pretty fit, running half marathons etc and then had my daughter and it all went to pot. It's hard as would like to go to a running club but I have no one to watch her. This week I've started trying to do half hour of aerobic exercise a day. So she's been going to nursery on her bike and I've been running behind, then I run home. Yesterday I took her on the back of my bike (and my legs are not thanking me for it), I've got a trampoline that i sometimes do some boogey bounce on in the Livingroom in the evening, but it takes up a lot of space...I'm really hoping to get my fitness back up

Social - This is the hardest bit, I maybe go out once every 3 months. My parents live a fair bit away but they do try and help when they can. It's funny, this is the most I've ever had to come home to my parents when tipsy. I think even if you are out you're still always on duty, I find it hard to let go and enjoy myself because I know I'll still need to be up at 5am and on child duty the following day, no one ever takes the early shift. I am getting a weekend away in July which I am excited and nervous about it equal measures. I have some great mum friends and we enjoy socialising together, we've also been away together to caravan parks or centre parcs and I've enjoyed that as it's nice for me to have someone to talk to on an evening. That can feel a bit lonely sometimes.

Chattycathydoll · 26/05/2023 11:02

Home - it’s been chaos since the pandemic. Even though it’s ages ago now, I moved shortly before covid happened. Lockdowns & things not being fully organised anyway meant it just spiralled and I never got on top of it. Recently got (my first ever!) bonus at work so spent it on a professional home organiser/declutterer & mini dishwasher. Best money I ever spent, feel like my house is becoming habitable for the first time since moving in.

Eating and cooking - I generally make it so my main meal is at lunchtime. This actually suits me a lot better, means I’m not as snacky in the evening and as DD is at school I can sit down and eat quietly by myself which feels like a treat anyway! We rent and have a stupid tiny under counter fridge with freezer compartment so I can’t rely too much on freezer foods. I do a lot of very basic meals in the evening like beans on toast, eggs, etc but she’s school dinners anyway so I figure we’ve both had a proper meal at lunchtime, it’s fine.

Exercise and health - I had a good run of going to the gym 3x a week (after work and while DD at brownies, sometimes on the weekend if she was at her dad’s) and dumbbell workouts at home but had issues with my back and was told to only do low impact exercise & no lifting. It all felt so frustrating I fell off the wagon entirely and now only do lunchtime walks as my exercise. I’m not overweight any more though so that’s a win?

Social life - meh. It’s better in some ways now DD is 8, she can go to activities without me so I can see friends in person, but she goes to bed so late I can’t do evening chats with friends like I used to. It used to feel like I was endlessly chained to my house, talking remotely was all I could do. Now it feels like a long slog of parenting with sporadic days out of the house instead.

Ex has been marginally better at contact this year so I can see my SO every couple of weeks fairly reliably though, which is good. And I’m fortunate he has caring responsibilities too so we’re able to match our schedules and I don’t feel like I’m messing him about by being unavailable.

purpleme12 · 31/05/2023 21:34

betaglucans · 12/05/2023 10:38

Hello - as a single parent struggling, I'm referring here to parents who do the vast majority of the parenting themselves without a co-parent or family nearby to share the load with.

I was wondering how sorted others are compared to me- could you share how sorted you are in terms of the following?

Home - how tidy is your house, does it stay tidy most of the time, do you have days of chaos followed by tidiness or is it in a state of perpetual chaos?

Eating and cooking - how healthy are you and your kids, do you manage to cook healthy food every day or do you have some days or longer that you resort to super quick freezer food type or worse?

Exercise and health - how fit and healthy are you - do you manage to fit in daily or weekly exercise sessions - how happy are you with your health and body overall?

Social life - do you manage to have some semblance of this?

I'll go first in my first post below. I'm just trying to gage if i am normal or could do better!

My house is not tidy at all.
And no I'm not just saying that like most people who say it when their house is absolutely fine.

No I don't cook meals often. I do sometimes.

I walk everywhere as don't drive. So we do walk miles.

Hardly any social life

NeedSleepNow · 04/06/2023 12:11

I am a line parent here to 3 kids between the address of 6 and 13. Their Dad had them EOW so I do everything during the week.

Home : this has really been neglected over the last year but I am now trying to get on top of it. I have started decluttering and throwing out anything the kids out I don't actually need. It had meant I'm now able to actually clean rather than just move the mess and clutter around the house. There is a long way to go but I wouldn't feel embarrassed inviting someone in for coffee or having one of the children's friends round to play now (after an hour or two of cleaning/tidying first).

Food - I plan the food for the week and do an online shop but I am very guilty of forgetting to take things out of the freezer in the morning so having to rely on a quick tea for the kids in the evening when I get home from work instead. I really want to get back to pepper cooking each night for them as we have all eaten far too much convenience food recently and I have pulled on weight and can see that the kids have put on a bit too. I may try a meal subscription box again like 'hello fresh' for a few of the meals in the week to make sure they are healthy and then I won't feel so bad about a few quick last minute meals from the freezer.

Exercise - I do none at the moment, I just don't have the time. On my days off work I am at college or studying, then I'm the evenings the kids are home so there is no really opportunity at the moment.

Social life - I have none other than the occasional coffee with friends maybe once a month.

Meepme · 26/06/2023 06:23

Home - can get very cluttered but I bit the bullet and got a cleaner. She makes life a lot easier!

Eating and cooking - I cook bulk from scratch a few days a time, so curry for 2 days, baked chicken for two days etc. Rarely freezer meals

Exercise and health - im not very fit at all, just get 20k steps daily through the school run

Social life - sibling looks after children if I went out but I don't go out much unless ex has kids (every few months)

I work from home full time so I've just resigned myself to the fact that it can't all be perfect. I do laugh when the parents at school still complain yet there are 2 plus nannies or family supporting them!

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