The Single Parent Life

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The other day I saw a Tweet. From a woman like me, with two small children and a work-at-home job. The tweet was willing her husband to get home so he could take over some parenting duties after she’d been alone with her kids for two days.

It made me think that maybe I have this single parenting thing down now?

I don’t judge anyone who finds being solely responsible for their children for long periods of time difficult, not at all. A year ago that was me; when my marriage was going down the pan the very idea of being a single parent for any period of time, let alone forever, struck fear into my heart. You get used to what your lot is and if your husband is there to take a bit of parenting pressure off you then you enjoy it, it’s almost a part of your life you take for granted.

But it made me realise that I no longer freak out about parenting my two children, two toddlers, on my own.

It’s been a year since Will started staying away from home and 6 months since he completely moved out. That’s 6 months of me being primary carer, primary disciplinarian and main parent of a one year old and a three year old. 6 months of me being the one to deal with 90% of the nighttime wakeups, the 5am starts, the sickness bugs and runny noses. I manage all prescriptions, school decisions, doctors visits and playdates. I decide which car seat is the safest, when the baby moves into a toddler bed, what clothes both kids wear, what they eat. It is a huge responsibility.

I don’t begrudge anyone at all who finds a few days on their own with their kids a struggle – not at all. That’s who I was before I got divorced and our problems are all relative. It used to send me nuts when Will left me alone for a couple of days with the kids. But it does make me proud of the fact that I now do this on my own. Every day. 

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I’m lucky in my situation than others may be as my parents live close by and their support is a real help. Hux goes to my mum two mornings a week so I can work and they have a sleepover every so often. Will has them most Wednesday evenings and every other weekend so I do get the kind of ‘time off’ that I would never have dreamed about before I was single. It still gets tough though. My days always start early and there’s nobody to share that 5.30 wakeup with, and on the days that either of the children or, god forbid I am ill… it’s hellish.

I get jealous when I see other mums’ husbands walk through the door at 6pm ready to help with bedtime. It makes me sad to see the weekend fun some families have as a happy foursome. And my tired eyes wish there was someone to share those early starts with. But you know what? I don’t think I would have it any other way.

The single mum thing has had an incredible impact on my relationship with my children. Before I was a single parent there were times where I saw myself only tolerating them – counting down the time from wake up til bedtime when I could be alone again.  Now we truly enjoy each others company and get so much out of one another. They have flourished since the separation, have come on in leaps and bounds. Our bond is incredibly close and special and we are a definite tight team of three.

The life of a single parent definitely isn’t easy but my little family of Elfie, Hux and me, we do it well. And I’ll tell you one thing… you never know how able to cope you are until you just do it.

Thank-you again Hayley for the lovely photos from our shoot a couple of weeks ago.

32 thoughts on “The Single Parent Life

  1. I think that’s the case with parenting in general, that you don’t know what you can do until you’re living it. I remember thinking I’d never deal with the constant night wake-ups when D was a baby but I did. I’m so pleased that it’s all working out for the best with you.

    You have such gorgeous children!

  2. Oh Alice you are doing it and doing it bloody well!!
    I am a reader of your blog, looker of your Instagram pics etc, in other words I don’t know you in real life but by god am I proud of you!!
    I am lucky, I have an OH who comes home every night- even if it is at 11pm- who listens to my woes and gets me through the ‘is it bedtime yet’ horrors and I know exactly those thoughts you had in what probably seems like a previous life!
    The new bond you have with your darling kids is SO well deserved, you work hard for it and believe me it will pay off in the future. The bond, protection and love my OH and his sisters have for their mum is unsurmountable.
    Keep on doing what you’re doing, because you are doing it so well!
    *and keep up with the burger pics ;)*
    Sorry very long comment, Monday night wine?! XX

  3. Are you talking about my tweet here? :-) Because yes, I hate when Big M takes off and when he tries to wriggle out of his parenting duties. I take my hat off and salute every single parent that has to do it alone, day in day out. And I am aware that I’ve got it much easier than, for example, you, dear Alice. It’s just the injustice of men doing their thing so incredibly nonchalantly, whereas they’d stop dead if we said ‘I’ll be away for business three days next week’. Without any further instructions, frozen meals, sorted out outfits or scheduled Ocado deliveries.
    Having said that, I am willing to give it a try and am going to Thailand next week. On my own. I thought I’d emulate your NYC example, just a bit more zen-y. Dxxxxx

    • It wasn’t you, but do I need to get all jealous of your lovely husband too ?! ;)

      Really hope you’ve had a fantastically brilliant time in Thailand. You deserve it xx

  4. I worried you might have been talking about my recent tweet for a second! ;)

    You have a lot to be proud of, parenting is so hard but like you say, it’s great and really rewarding seeing the rewards in your children’s eyes. I’m lucky to have a supportive partner in my children’s dad but then we do not have any family nearby so it’s really just us. Definitely the most difficult but very rewarding job I’ve done to date! Thanks for sharing your post,

    Fiona
    http://www.greenlovinggirl.com

  5. I’ve been a single parent (to my older kids) and now married (for 7 years) we have a little 2 year old… Yes I’m married but I feel I live a single parent life as we both work full time but opposite shifts. So in the 2 years littlest has been here I’ve had at least 20 mins at home by myself… our lifestyle is I come in the door from work and 5mins later Husband leaves for work, we sometimes have time to yell.. ‘I changed her bottom an hour ago’.. or sometimes it’s a note with things that have been done / still to do… it’s a constant struggle and I’m always exhausted. I seem to get the bum deal as when Husband works night shifts, I’m off the next day or at least not starting till lunch time so he gets the long lies to catch up on sleep…

    I often feel I’m always playing the ‘poor me’ card but I would love a day off.. just one to be me! We don’t get much help from family which is not only tough to organise a schedule but it’s sad to think no-one wants to spend that time with the little one… (sad.. really I mean that makes me angry)…

    Oh well…. back to work, finish at my desk at 4.15, home for 5pm and Husband leaves at 5.05pm to work until 3am…

    ps.. totally with you on the early wake ups when you’re feeling ill… I’ve literally crawled into the kitchen before to make bottles when I had a bag virus when littlest was a baby! It’s not pleasant x

    A xx

    • Blimey. I feel a bit bad for whinging about my lifestyle, it must be even worse to have a lovely husband that you barely don’t get to see :(

      Thank you for sharing and I’m really hoping you get some decent alone time soon. You deserve it!! xx

  6. I hadn’t spoken to one of my closest friends for 2 weeks, she seemed to be avoiding my calls and texts but today she finally answered. She told me that 3 weeks ago her husband walked out on her and her two children who are almost the exact same gap as hux and Elfie. She has been staying with her mum and ignoring the phone, not ready to talk about it yet, as it was a complete and utter shock to her. She sat and sobbed for well over an hour. But then she got angry. And then she said she was ready. Ready to give it a go. She is scared, scared of all the things that you listed above- the responsibilities etc but she has been thrust into this life and I know she will be ok. I told her your web address and told her to read your blog. You inspire me so much Alice, none of us know what’s around the corner, I feel like I would be broken if my husband left, I rely on him so much, but you make me see that if I had to do it I could do it. We are a lot stronger than we believe we are.
    I am one of those people who thank god when their husband walks in at 5.30, and I think posts like this make me think, we all become complacent with what we have got. Anyway this comment doesn’t really have a point except to say I think you rock. Genuinely. I hope my friend reads your blog. X

    • I was so sorry to read about your friend Katie, how is she doing? I hope she’s doing OK and I’m sure she’s discovered that she’s stronger than she thought she was. Thinking of her xx

  7. Hi I have been a single parent for nearly 8 years now. My daughter was six when we left our marital home and went on our own. Her Father is extremely uninvolved, partly due to his spineless decision to allow his live in girlfriend to dictate where he is all the time but mostly because he just doesn’t “get” parenting. I have not been on a date in all these years, I had waited until I was 41 to have my daughter, and felt that I needed to dedicate the time after our divorce to her. It paid off big time, no one can believe that she comes from a “divorced” home as she exhibits non of the traits associated with divorce.
    We have mutual respect, difficult sometimes when dealing with a teen, love in abundance and we genuinely like each other!
    Well done on your parenting so far, taking the steps one at a time gets you through anything! For the rest you have a support system, don’t hesitate to use them!!
    Love and hugs from Cape Town. xx

    • It sounds like you have definitely done single parenting the right way and I love to hear stories like yours! Thanks for visiting from Cape Town, Sharon :) xx

  8. A lovely post and very true, even now I am facing a change in my life and I know when I stand here in a years time I will have survived. But right now, facing the end of my relationship and the life I have built for myself, moving back in with my parents, I am petrified.

    • It’s bloody terrifying isn’t it? But I tell you what, you don’t know how strong you are and in a year’s time you will look back on this period and feel proud of yourself. I guarantee it. Good luck xxx

  9. I think like Laura says you don’t quite know what you are capable of until you are thrown into it. I used to mentioned to friends pre-motherhood that I needed loads of sleep to function and yet it’s been almost two years now & Wilf still wakes 3 times a night and is also up at 5 (whyyyy!) but I have so much admiration for you realising what was right for your family and being so flipping awesome at it. You guys will have such a tight bond because of it, love the pics! Xx

  10. Hi Alice, I only recently came across your blog but have enjoyed reading all your previous posts (& I even stole one of your veggie recipes for World Vegetarian Day the other week!) I am a mummy to an almost-2 year old boy myself & a Londoner to boot so much of what you have posted sounds very familiar. Serious kudos to you for raising 2 littles as a newly-single mum.

    What I wanted to ask you is: would you please please please reconsider putting your MTT TV snippet about parenting back on your blog…I found it hilarious and it cheered me no end during a very trying time these last few weeks!

    Kind regards & look forward to reading more, BabaWaga x

  11. Oh Alice, what a beaut post. “Now we truly enjoy each others company and get so much out of one another.” Isn’t that so the way it is meant to be?! So sad that somestimes we feel we are simply tolerating them. You look like a little gang, hanging out, having the time of your lives…

  12. You raw, genuine realness bleeds through each of your posts. I love this comment on parenting from your single parent perspective. Such a cool reflection on how much you have grown from this season of changing and adapting to a new normal. Your family is lovely as ever and I am so thankful for your honest writing :]

  13. This truly is a precious time for you all. I remember my mum being a single mum to me and my sister after my Dad left – we loved having her to ourselves. And now I am a single mum to my two boys, and, like you, have that bond of closeness and fun to treasure. Lovely post – so glad you’ve found your way and you’re enjoying this time. It’s much healthier than living with conflict :)

  14. I dont understand why people dont split it more,it sounds like you are on good enough terms with your ex,why does he only see them every other weekend and one evening a week??thats mad,thats nowhere near enough time to form a decent bond,they will all (him and the kids)miss out.Im sure theres reasons why theres such little contact but in an ideal world being a single parent wouldnt mean doing it on your own,just because your not together anymore you can still parent together.

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