Image: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net Coping as a single mum. Out and about with her daughter.
This question is dedicated to my older, amazing sister. Despite being in her late thirties, with two beautiful girls of primary school age; she is now in her second year of studying teaching at University. Despite the full-time study load, health challenges - including major surgery a few months ago, financial challenges, and looking after two beautiful girls on her own; she is coping with all of these demands really well, in tandem with a positive attitude, and a smile on her face. Not to mention awesome uni results, and working as a teachers aide one day a week. How do you do it and stay sane at the same time? Do you occasionally sleep in? Rely on child care support? Pamper yourself? Have a pet around? Take some other much needed time out? Let us know, so all the other single mums out there can benefit.
Being a single parent means wearing a lot of different hats and prioritising what is important for you and your children.
Being there at the end of the day for my son has always been my first priority and so I have set up my work around him - I decided not to go back to the corporate world, when he was born. Instead I started my own web designing business, which gives me the freedom and flexibility, so I can be there whenever he is sick or when an important school or sporting activity is happening.
On occasions I have had to change my plans at the last minute, but all of my clients have been very understanding and respectful.
Another priority has been to expose my son to as many experiences as I can, so he can learn from real life, not just school books. Any opportunity I get, I load him in the car and we go on trips and to find new challenges - camel riding, wakeboarding, swimming with dolphins, quad bike riding, fishing, parasailing, jetskiing ...
My house is not always tidy and my cooking could be improved, but for me those are not as important as sharing adventures with junior. There are only so many hours in the day and so you can only do so much. Work out what your priorities are and focus on those. Everything else will fall into place.
This is a really beautiful answer Ivana. Thank you so much for contributing to this question, much greatly appreciated :) So thoughtful and caring. Love it, and good on you for creating your life on your own terms. It is so liberating to break away from the corporate world/the rat race, and have a fantastic business, where (in most cases) you can work your own hours. Even though this same, older sister is a teachers aide one day a week; she also finds that sleeping in, having a gorgeous puppy, living with great family, and having some much needed time out for herself is awesome, and the universe always provides for her. For example, a couple of her relatives brought her a plane ticket to Europe recently, so she can fly and see some more of our family back home.
You beautiful one Ivana, enjoy your overseas trip coming up.
I am not a single mum, but I say all power to them. My advice would be to take advantage of what ever the govt offers (because who needs to add money worries to the work load) and take advantage of a social network that is happy to help out - if your child can go to a friends house when you need a sitter, that's fantastic - if another mum can get your child to footy training, then you can work later that day and so on. My other thing would be to make sure you get to go out with adults (and without kids) - don't miss out, if possible. Because your happiness is important for your child to see.
You just get on with it. Sometimes it's harder being the only carer because you have no one to bat ideas off and discuss the important issues and sometimes it's easier being the only carer because you do not have to take someone else's ideas into account especially if they differ from yours.
I did a degree while my daughter was young and I had a wonderful friend who would care for her one day a week after school so I could stay late at university.
I would not wish being a single parent on anyone it's bloody hard work but i do think if I had shared the parenting of my daughter then she would have not grown up to be the person she is. Strong and independent. She understands more than most of her pampered friends that life can be tough.