My name is Leigh.
My family consists of me and my son.
I’ve been a single parent since my little boy was born, in September 2018.
My work life balance is busy. I work full time, and in normal times I commute to London from home in Essex, but have worked from home since March. My son is in fulltime nursery so the weekdays are a mad rush when he gets home as he’s still a toddler. Working from home has made it easier work/life wise to keep on top of things like washing and housework, and the days aren’t as long without commuting, but it means it’s all too easy to check emails over dinner and in the evening. I try to switch off as much as possible in the evenings though, and make sure I get a good walk in in the mornings after dropping him off.
My secret to getting everyone ready in the morning is I throw on some joggers and a jumper to do the nursery drop-off and shower when I get back. I get him up at 7am, (if he hasn’t already wandered out of his room to find me!), and get his breakfast. We need to be ready to leave by 7.45am at the latest. My secret is doing as much as I can the night before; making lunch, getting breakfast stuff out, and sorting myself out after he’s gone off for the day. It means I can actually get a decent shower in. Another perk of working from home! Otherwise normally we get up at 5.30am and he goes to nursery at 7am(!)
My support network consists of a few people. My parents are incredible, and we lived with them towards the end of my pregnancy and the first six months of my son’s life. They’re my Corona support bubble too, which has been invaluable. Outside of that I have some great close friends, and during lockdown we have voice-noted every day, (two of them are also single parents), which has made the days feel less lonely. And of course, my lovely Frolo friends, who have without doubt been the most incredible source of support and laughs over the last two years or so.
The bit I find hardest is not having adult company at home, especially this year, and not feeling like I can get up and do spontaneous things at the weekend, as many two parent families can do together. I either have to plan in advance to do something with another family, (single parent or otherwise), or go on my own with a toddler, which isn’t the most fun thing in all honesty!
I’m fortunate that I have an active co-parent, so I have every Wednesday afternoon (after work) and every other weekend to myself. I used to find this really hard, but now I really appreciate that time. Normally I would see friends and go for drinks etc, but there’s not been much of that this year! So I’ve been making do with box sets, takeaways and a nice bottle of wine. I also really enjoy cooking and trying to get back into exercising. I’m also planning (Covid rules permitting) to start dating again in the new year. It’s time!
If I could change one thing to make life easier I’d get a cleaner. Definitely. And a Magic Money Tree please!
One thing I love about being a single parent is the freedom to create our home and life the way I want it, and the bond my son and I have. I answer to no-one, about anything (well, except my son…)
Dinner times at our house are mostly me saying ‘concentrate on eating please’. My son has a very healthy appetite, although green things are currently persona non grata. I try and have dinner on the table for 6pm and we almost always eat together, (unless I’ve opted to order a pizza when he’s in bed!). Being his age, I think its really important for him to learn from me and for us to have a family mealtime.
Our bedtime routine is bath, chasing him round his room with some lotion, wrestling him into his PJs and reading stories. It’s lights out by 7.30pm, but because he’s recently moved into a bed he spends about half an hour getting out of bed, with me popping him back in. I have to stand sentry outside his room until he drops off, because I refuse to sit in his room in the dark. Bedtime is actually my favourite time of the day, (not just because he’s asleep, honest!), but because it’s the time of the day with no distractions, it’s just me and him playing silly games in his room and reading his favourite stories with lots of snuggles.
My best single parenting hack is to let go of the idea of perfection. And talk to people. Be open, make friends and learn when to ask for help. You cannot do this completely on your own. And nor should you. Life is to be shared, but that doesn’t mean it has to be with a partner.