Can I start off by saying that I hate the term “single mum”. I used it because it’s a common term but I don’t think it describes me. I am not the only parent for my children. They have a Dad who is highly prominent in their lives and we co-parent. I would say that “co-parenting mum” or “separated parent” might be a better term. Anyways…now I’ve got that out of the way, I’m a year on from separating from my husband. I’m by no means an expert but I thought I would share some of what I’ve learnt about coping as a single parent. Hopefully it will help someone.
If you would like to know more about what happened with myself and the kids’ Dad, there are three blog posts: eleven days, eleven weeks and eleven months of separation and I also recently did an Instagram Live with Ryssdom Coaching on Separation and Co-Parenting.
Build your tribe
Support is key as a separated parent. My support system stretches from my Mum, sister and best friends to the fabulous people I’ve met on Instagram. Whether I need a second pair of hands to help with the kids or I need an ear to rant into, having those people there massively helps my mental health. When you lose your sh*t with a child or your ex partner peeves you off, there has to be someone there to support you.
I bought a diary. I always bought a diary but I never used it. I used my phone calendar. Now I use it. I write everything it it. When the kids go to their dads, when they are back, when they go to work with him, school events/dates, my work, food deliveries. Your brain has enough going out without having to worry about little stuff so get a diary, leave it out on the side and use it. I also use it to organise my finances and have a spreadsheet for those. I don’t need to note every penny I spend but it’s good to have an idea of what’s left to play with each month.
Enjoy your alone time
No not that, you dirty buggers! Although, go ahead if it tickles your fancy! Whether you’re a full time single parent with no help from the other parent. Or maybe you’re like me and get some free time when they go off to Daddy’s, enjoy that time! Don’t do loads of shit stuff that we have to do but don’t want to, like the food shop. Whether it’s a few hours in the evening when the kids are in bed or a whole weekend while they’re with the other parent, do something you enjoy. It might be an hour in the bath with a book. It might be going shopping without battling tantrums or pushing a buggy. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty for taking that time. Solo parenting is tiring and you need that time to recharge.
Go easy on yourself
You can’t do it all. It’s impossible. Do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t. Prioritise. Everyday you are solo with your child/children it’s full on. I’m always amazed at where the day goes. You are constantly being pulled in different directions. Juggling the kids who want your attention every two second, want a snack every two minutes and fall out at least once an hour, it takes it toll on your mental health. Yes, its the best role in the world and yes, we are incredibly lucky to be a Mummy. However that doesn’t mean it doesnt get hard at times. So what if you left the pots in the sink overnight or you didn’t wash the towels that day like you intended to. It doesn’t matter. If you find yourself getting snowed under, ask for help.
Don’t lose you
Since separating from my husband, I’ve actually felt more like me again. Coping as a single parent is easier because I’m happier. I am able to be Becka as well as Mum, daughter, friend etc. We wear so many “hats” in life but the time when the kids go to their Dads, I get to be Becka not Mum and I really enjoy that time. Do something for you. It’s the reason I started this blog after my son was born. It’s the reason I could never be a stay at home mum. Work makes me feel like me. Find something you enjoy and take the time to do it now and then, it might be baking, cooking, writing, painting, anything!
Coping as a single parent or a paired up parent, I think the majority of the above are relevant to a parent. I know it’s harder when you don’t have the other parent involved in your children’s life. It comes with many more challenges and worries but I hope that even if you can’t do them all, you can do some of them.
I’m a little sporadic with blog writing but you can always find me over on Instagram, sharing regularly and with daily stories of our life. I’d love it if you followed alone.