When you parent alone, itâ€™s all too easy to get bogged down in the day to day tedium of life. As smooth and happy as I try to keep the family dynamic, there are plenty of times when I sit down at the end of the day and feel myself slowly slipping down into a state of mild despair.
Those hours between putting the kids to bed and putting yourself to bed can be very lonely ones â€“ itâ€™s typical â€˜grass is greenerâ€™ territory. When youâ€™re part of a couple you often crave an evening to yourself, then suddenly you have every evening alone, and it doesnâ€™t feel fun anymore.
Itâ€™s times like these that a bit of positive thinking can work wonders. As easy as it is to become melancholy, so it also is relatively simple to turn things on their head. Imagine your life as a product, do some PR on yourself â€“ youâ€™ll be amazed at the positive spin you can put on even the dreariest of circumstances.
Last weekend for instance, I came home from a night out and got into my empty bed just after midnight. Maybe it was the three G&Ts Iâ€™d consumed in the last two hours, or maybe it was something bigger, but I found myself wishing I had someone to share my bed with. I let my thoughts wander to imagining having someone to curl up into, someone to give my bed that lovely man smell.
And then I caught myself.
Yes I was alone, but actually wasnâ€™t that great? No duvet hogging, no snoring, no man smells of the less savoury variety. I know, I know, this may seem like clutching at straws, and I hope that one day true love will blind me to these minor irritations, but in the meantime Iâ€™m going to focus on the silver linings, no matter how big the clouds.
You can read more from Jo on her popular blog â€“ Slummy Single Mummy
As ever, another witty and wonderful post from Jo.
As a self employed single mum, my time always feels stretched to the max – kids, school, work, home – something just has to give, and that something is normally my standards of cleanliness. Being anything other than a domestic goddess is something we are all being made to feel guilty about, so I thought I would offer some crumbs of comfort by revealing my secret slummy habits, the corners I cut to keep myself sane.
â€˜Do it yourselfâ€™ is the mantra of single parents everywhere. As a single mum of two daughters, aged seven and fourteen, I know I have to rely on myself if I want anything done at all.
When I set out to write about being a single parent I had a good idea of what I wanted to say. It was going to be very balanced â€“ an essay type argument â€“ with a clear list of pros and cons. You can imagine the style; a punchy introduction, a few positives, a smattering of negatives, all building up to the conclusion that sure, parenting alone is tough, but it also brings a whole host of benefits.
Being a single mum is hard. Making friends is hard. But what about combining the two? Factor in a bit of emotional vulnerability, low self-esteem and chronic exhaustion – all classic symptoms of single motherhood – and surely it is an impossible task? Fear not. There are lots of things you can do to overcome anxiety and reach out and form new friendships.
This afternoon I spent four hours at an indoor soft play centre. How, you may be wondering, did I do this without wanting to drown myself in the ball pit? Easy. The key to this kind of activity is to lay down some ground rules and for me this equates to one simple fact under no circumstances will I indulge in play of any kind. My daughter knows what to expect I will not have a go on the slide, no I don’t fancy seeing how many balls I can catch at once and I absolutely will not be humiliating myself by trying to roll my whole body through a giant foam mangle.
This may seem cruel, but the whole point of paid for play is that I get let off the responsibility of being an endless source of entertainment. Parenting generally is exhausting. Parenting alone is relentless and it is crucial to give yourself time out now and again.
Of course it does seem slightly perverse to pay to spend the afternoon indoors on what has turned out to be one of the sunniest days this month, but I comfort myself with the fact that I am actually protecting us both from harmful UV rays. I have never been the kind of mum to remember sun lotion, so this is the next best thing.
Sure we could have romped through woods looking for animal tracks or other such wholesome activities, but then it’s difficult to read the papers when you are attempting to bluff your way in tree identification. You can try the park, but the chances are at our local that you’ll have to contend with a steady stream of bored teenagers swearing and hogging all the best stuff. Plus at the park there is no escape from the plaintive cries of â€˜mummy can you push me on the swings?
At our indoor soft play centre my energetic seven year old is guaranteed to find a friend and I am off the hook. After ten minutes she is already holding hands with one of the big girls and I am a good way through The Times. I have brought with me a selection of papers, magazines and books“ the second rule of soft play is to be prepared “ and I work my way happily through them, easily blocking out the screams of toddlers and the flashing of the muted flat screen TVs that line the walls.
Soft play is basically low cost childcare. For a paltry £14 a month I can have unlimited access all I need to do is repeat this afternoon’s session a few times a week and I looking at an hourly rate of about 27p. Bargain. Sure, i’s no Montessori, but my daughter has a great time and after a few hours with my head in a book I feel refreshed and ready to climb back on the never ending merry go round of single parenthood.