Whether a single parent by choice or through circumstance you will need (just as any mother in a more “conventional” relationship) time for yourself. Finding it is often difficult, especially if working full time without support from ex partners. Every hour can seem pre allotted (to children, chores, work) and you may feel on a never-ending treadmill. Life at times (and this goes for all) can be overwhelming.
Single mum Robyn of Alana (7 months) sums it up perfectly:
A coffee … or yoga class, - now have to be well organized... and are like gold. I appreciate every every sip and every downward dog. I love my daughter more than life itself... but I am still Robyn and needs Robyn time. Never feel bad for taking that ….extra sip, extra few moments in corpse pose. Things that make us better appreciate we missed our child and makes those moments together all the more sweeter.
So how to carve out some precious me time?
1. Be selfish.
If you are working non-stop you are entitled to some guilt free ME TIME. Unless you have committed a crime, leave feeling guilty to the thieves and scoundrels. Believe me, your children will take a happy mum over a moody frustrated angry one any day!
2. Never be too proud to ask for help.
Whether in a long-term relationship or not, parenting is hard work and requires patience, dedication, time, love, and money. Much as ever is dependent on one’s financial situation. Balancing work and home responsibilities is a problem all women face unless surrounded by a hands-on helpful family. Working part-time, or full time you may need to hire a nanny or housekeeper. Help is the key word here. We all need help at some time, especially if you are running the show on your own.
3. Getting help – how to know the person is right to look after your little one?
This is not a problem restricted to single mothers. When considering a child-minder trust your instinct and that of your child’s. Never be afraid to ask questions. Check out references, call the referees, check police records, etc. If you have any misgivings, can’t put your finger on it - just say no. Avoid people who have a violent history, or history with drugs and alcohol. Also if you are paying for help make clear your expectations - i.e. maybe you can negotiate some light house keeping or ironing to be done whilst they babysit. If they are feeding the baby remember to ask they wash up. Try and make life as easy for yourself as possible.
Solo parenting on a budget?
For many a social life may seem like an unaffordable luxury. If in such a predicament consider bartering for babysitting (i.e. you babysit for a friend one night and then they return the favour). Alternatively you may have a neighbour (elderly or alone) who might consider babysitting in lieu of a home cooked meal or some shopping or company. Get creative… if you happen to have an extra bedroom consider taking in a lodger or renting the room. You could come to a reciprocal arrangement ‘free babysitting for a reduced rent’. As a single mum I found many benefits to having a lodger; company, extra cash and a live-in babysitter.
Check out lone parents groups in your area – if there aren’t any think about starting one; begin with a Facebook page or a notice in your favourite café or park. Weekends can be lonely so arrange meet ups then. The more active you are the more you will realise there are a lot of lone parents out there probably more than you imagine.
The reality is male/female relationships are not static. Relationships are more fluid than ever and some last longer than others. One can be single, living with someone, married or widowed or go from one to the other. Life is full of surprises.
Jackie single mum of Teddy, ‘I consider myself lucky, Teddy has regular contact with his dad and this allows me a social life. I now have more me-time than when I was married!’
Expectations. A social life is something that evolves gradually. Having a child will change your life no matter your circumstance. The initial years are difficult for one and all and in the early months of parenthood partying/clubbing will probably not be high on your list of priorities as you get to grips with becoming a mum.
Give yourself time as a lone parent to find a social group that suits you and your children's lifestyle.
Philosophies and mantras to survive lone parenting.
Take it slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Allow yourself time to develop a new social life. No one is happy 100% of the time. There will be good times, fallow times, fat times and lean times and some times when you are just going to have to grit your teeth and get through it. No one is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Cut yourself some slack, and give yourself a break. Remember what matters most is the kind of parent you are and the relationship you have with your child. Bringing up a child on your own is a phenomenal achievement in and of itself.
I could wax lyrical on the joys of single motherhood having been one; the pros (yes there are lots of pros) and okay the cons (as with everything in life there is an upside and down side). You may be the primary carer initially but you will soon realise you need other people in your life. No child is ever brought up by just one person; so many others will have a bearing from teachers, to mentors, friends, family, and neighbours. Motherhood is challenging, single motherhood more so especially if different to the life one expected but it can also be liberating and fantastically empowering.