Life as a single parent is at the best of times hard work but it is also very rewarding. Here I have talked to other single parents, as well as my own experience to find out the pros and cons of being a single parent.
Being a single parent is lonely
Cons – It’s lonely, especially if you’re not working and the kids are at school or after they have gone to bed. Not everyone has family nearby or friends who understand the situation. You may feel tied to your parenting role and restricted in what you can do. Then there is the good old saying of feeling lonely in a crowd. Whatever your situation, at some point that feeling of loneliness can hit.
Pros –Being just you also means you have your own freedom and before you shout at the screen, you’re not free you have kids to looks after – freedom comes in many forms. Though it may feel like you have no freedom, you do have other freedoms to enjoy.
What you eat, when you eat, where you eat – it’s your choice. Want to paint all the walls pink with white spots – it’s your choice. Wear huge Bridget Jones knickers every day instead of sexy lace cheese wires – it’s your choice.
I know this one from experience and it’s not all doom and gloom. You’re not the only one feeling like this or in this situation. With the wonders of modern and free teleconferencing technology, there are a lot of social networks at your fingertips. Facebook and Twitter to name but a few.
If you do the school run there are chances to meet other mums. But they won’t see how friendly and lovable you are if you have to rush to the school gates and rush off again with your head down. Try and walk head held high and smiling, be proud of who you are.
The bed is so empty.
Cons– That double bed can be very cold and feel very empty
Pros -all that space to stretch out and no one else pinching the duvet. Doesn’t matter if you snore nor do you have to put up with someone else’s snoring in your ear and keeping you awake?
If you’re newly single then change your bedroom around to how you want it, get new bedding if your budget stretches that far. One mum said she did just this when her ex moved out. It gave her bed a whole new look and gave her an ‘unsullied’ place to sleep. Childish? Maybe? Expensive? Probably. Worth it? Definitely!
Learn to relish the chance to have a bed all to yourself to do in it whatever you want. Ask anyone who is coupled up and I bet you find a good few who are secretly jealous of you with a huge bed all to themselves.
Cons – When a child has a strong will or determination and they know how to push your buttons it can be a battle of the wills. With no one to back you in your corner, it can feel like you’re arguing with the whole world and not just one 6 years old who is adamant odd socks, that are a week old, really are cool.
As one mum rightly put it -“as the primary caregiver you are your child’s world”. When they fall it is you they cry for, when they see something new it is you they are bursting to tell and Monday to Friday at least when you say no, they don’t have someone to go and play you off against.
The downside of this, of course, is when you say no and a tantrum ensues, or when they are utterly refusing to go to bed, or when they want something that they simply can’t have, you are alone, totally. If it takes 4 hours and your shins being kicked to hell and the whole house being trashed it’s still all you, just you.
You have no one to take over for just 5 minutes so you can go outside and scream, no one to pour you a glass of wine, or make you a cup of tea, or to take over and sit in the hallway outside their room putting them back into bed over and over and over again.
Pros – you can develop your own parenting style and not have anyone else criticise you. You decide the house rules and it is up to you how you dish those rules out.
Decide your parenting style and how you want to implement it. Let the children know your boundaries and stick to them. Keeping rules and boundaries may seem strict and boring but it helps you and them in the long run. If it is plausible to try talking to the ex.
If you’re both singing off the same song sheet on at least some of the things then it makes it easier in both households. The one thing I really wouldn’t recommend is trying to get one up on the other parent.
Children are to be enjoyed and not used as pawns in your battle with the ex. It’s not fair for the children and will confuse them more.
One person to do everything.
Cons – Well no-one else is going to do it, are they?! In the past, if a light bulb needed changing I would call for the man in my life. I would even leave it unchanged all day to wait for the man to get home. Now that isn’t an option (unless I want to wait a whole week!!- sometimes longer!)
If something goes wrong then it’s down to you to put it right and fix the mess. And we all know there are way too little hours in the day to successfully fit in all the people you are expected to be.
Pros – The high you get when you realize you can do it is amazing. The skills you learn along the way will not only stay with you but enable you to help others. They are also brilliant skills to pass on to your children.
So I get out the ladder (OK, not really, I balance on a stool!) and change the bulb. Or reset the electrical fuse box. Or get out the screwdriver and put the screws back in the door handle. Or find the drill and hang that special new picture. Invest in a drill and other DIY tools if you haven’t got any.
Celebrate the fact that you did it!! Being a bit organized does help in fitting everything in, but that said a list of friends numbers is also a godsend. Use your strengths where you can and don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help. There will be things they are good at that you may not be and what comes around, goes around and you can return the help by helping them with the things you’re good at.
Cons– Everyone’s circumstances are different, some get maintenance, some don’t, some work and some don’t. Whatever the circumstances money is bound to be tight and the cost of raising kids is still the same. Expensive!
One of the mums said that all of her money, every single penny is spent on her son. On providing him with a home, on paying for his school dinners, on getting to and from work so she can buy him school dinners and provide him with a home. On buying him the clothes he needs and trying to buy him the clothes he wants. On trying to make sure he doesn’t LOOK like a child with a single mum….the list is endless.
Pros– Having a small budget makes you manage on a small budget. One good thing to come out of this for me was the realization of how much we actually waste. When you only have so much electric or water it’s amazing how you learn to cut down.
Same with food shopping. I never realized how much food I threw away at the end of each week. Or how much convenience food we were actually eating.
Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to. Make sure you know which benefits you should be claiming, you may be surprised. You may be surprised at what you are actually entitled to. Draw up a budget (excel or pen and paper), this way you see where the money goes and what you have or haven’t got left.
Tighten the belt where you can, although easy to say, go through it with a fine a tooth comb. Stick to your budget as best you can. You will be surprised at what you actually can do on a budget