A few truths of being a Single mum that your single/ child free friends might not understand

 This inst a whining post. Its more of an explanation. I tried to find a post I could share on Facebook to explain to people what being a single mum is like but every article I could find I read it and just felt that they are stereo typing. That we are broken, broke and just need help. Well, that's not me at all. So I thought I would try and sum up what being a single mum is like for me and hopefully others can relate.

1. Being single doesn't equal broke

No, I cant afford a house right now but frankly who can? I live in one of the most expensive cities to live in Australia. A small run down 3 bedroom house goes for about $700,000. But I am also more financially stable then when I was in a relationship. Why? Because I don't have to contend with someone elses bad spending habits. We don't live large, I buy second hand and home brand groceries but frankly I don't have too if I didn't want too. Its just good finance. I'm not a single parent because as one article put it "Most single mums come from impoverished background where they didn't receive a good education". Ah no, yes I was raised by a single mum but I also saw my dad weekly. The reason we are single parents is because we didn't want to stay in an unhappy relationship. I have two Diplomas and work in a great Government job but no im not going to fork out for $300 designer jeans or go on 3 trips to Bali a year because that's just a dumb idea! Which brings me to my next point.

2. Why I don't just get a better job

I get this alot. Why do i stay in my current job if I don't like it. I should be reaching for a management position. Well no. One of the challenges of solo parenting is time and flexibility. I need to be able to take off if I get a call from school or leave work before 5pm for after school pickup. I have been in positions where I have been constantly told that its not acceptable that I had to go pick my son up from school at 1pm because he was sick. Yet those same people tell me they totally support flexible working arrangements. Like, huh? I cant accept several jobs I have been offered because they require me to work longer hours, which I cant do. So im going to stay in my current job, because its flexible, I can leave any time i want and no one is put out if i need to leave early to get a sick kid. This wont be forever. Once he is older and can stay home alone and catch busses then sure I can go back to that old corporate ladder. But for now this is where I need to be.

3. Just bring him with you

I get this one alot. I see my friends on the weekends my son is with his dad. My friends say oh but he will be fine with  his ipad just bring him along. Well yes he will be occupied but that's not fair on him and that's not the reason i say no on the weekend i have him with me. The reason is that I cant relax when i have him there too. I'm constantly checking to see that he isn't bored, does he need the bathroom, a drink, has he wandered off? He is 6yrs old so these worries are getting less but its still the fact that i cant just sit and enjoy a coffee with you because i have another person to think about and care for. Imagine if your parents organised a dinner party and made you tag along. Even as an adult you would probably hate it because you don't know anyone and what's being said probably has no interest to you. This is how my son feels if i drag him along with me. I would much prefer to just come out when he is with his dad. There is no time limit to how long i can stay out. I can relax and not have to think about anything else but hanging out with my favourite people. Frankly i don't get to spend alot of time with my son (about 2hrs on a week night after work/ school and alternate weekends), so the few hours I do I prefer to do things we will both enjoy.

4. My house must be hectic

Well at times yes but most of the time no. Usually its just him playing a game or watching TV and me either cooking up some dinner or laying around watching tv also. Because frankly he has been at school all day and I have been at work all day and neither of us really wants to do much. Yes he asks for my attention alot but its normally to turn around and see what he is doing then we both go back to our own tasks or we talk while watching telly. It takes a few minutes to chuck a load of laundry on or vacuum the floor. I spread it out over the week so its never more than maybe 30mins a night spent cleaning. Then its drawing him a bath and me taking a shower. He only needs one story to go to bed then I have the rest of the evening to spend gaming or doing odd jobs for my store, Mothermaple. I have come to realise that we both work much better if its not a dictatorship. I ask him to clean up but am realistic about what he will actually do which means we don't butt heads too often. 

5. I'm broken from my failed relationship

Nope. I learnt alot of important lessons and came to realise what i wont tolerate in a relationship but no im not broken or fragile. I raise my child and manage my home by myself. That doesn't make me fragile it makes me a woman who can look after own darn self. I do attempt to date but the men all seem to either assume ill put up with their bad treatment because im desperate or that I am only looking for a husband. Well its actually the opposite. I wont put up with anyone else unless they truly care for me and treat me well. I don't want to find a dad for my kid, he has a dad! What I look for is someone who can take care of themselves, someone who I can walk through life with and laugh about the good time and the bad. The fact that they are great with my son and can help me raise him is an essential criteria also but I don't even introduce men to him until I know its a secure long lasting relationship. So if you assume single mums are desperate then think again. 


6. Just get a babysitter or ask family to pick him up/ watch him

Our kids aren't puppies. He is my family and I wont just fob him off on other people so I can have an afternoon off. Yes its stressful not having someone who you can tag out too. I cant pop down the shop to grab something or see a movie after work but to me this isn't the worst thing ever. I knew what I was getting into in becoming a mother. For the first 15yrs or so I am going to be relied on to be there for my kid. Now as a single mum that hasn't changed.  It just means that I need to plan these things better. I get groceries delivered so I don't have to drag him around the shops or grab them on the way to pick him up from school. I plan events on my weekends off. Frankly I get out alot more than my married friends. No, I wont go out on a school night but frankly im tired from work anyway and its so much easier for everyone to do things on a weekend where you aren't trying to drag yourself out of bed at 7am the next morning. Frankly I have dropped several men who get annoyed that either I only see them alternate weekends or they come to my place after my son is in bed. If they can't be bothered putting in even that tiny amount of effort they why should I let them waste my time? 

7. What you can do to help your solo parenting friends

Ask them to do things, even if you know they have their kids with them, ask anyway. They will most likely say no but give them the option and make them feel included.

Arrange things for their weekends off. You know they cant see a movie on a Wednesday so just arrange it for a Saturday night instead or ask them when they prefer to go out. 

Offer to bring dinner over and go to their place to watch netflix and chill after bedtime. Just because they cant leave the house doesn't mean you cant leave yours. 

If you know an event is coming up, tell them about it in advance so they can make arrangements. My family are happy to babysit or I can swap weekends with my ex, but this is alot easier with a few weeks notice. 

Don't make us feel guilty about saying no. If I say I cant do something because I have my son with me, just accept that or ask when is a better day/ time. Don't try and weedle me into bringing him or getting a sitter. I know what I do and don't want to do. It might just be too much stress at the time to make those kinds of arrangements and I would rather stay home.

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