I Don’t Know How You Do It?….
I have people say that to me a lot.
My answer? “You just do it”.
How do you cope when you’re a single mum?
Every morning you wake up and you just go. Do you ever really stop? Switch off? Not really.
Even at night when Aiden is in bed sound asleep, every time I get up to go to the toilet, or right before I go to sleep, if I wake up during the night, if I wake up before him (rarely!) in the morning I check on him. I make sure he’s OK, that he’s not too hot, that he’s got a drink, his doggy…. I’m constantly ‘switched on’.
Your body can rest, whether curled up on the sofa at night watching TV while the kids are asleep or when they’re at nursery and you’re getting a ‘break’. But your mind never really does. But that’s just how mums are, single or not.
Even when the kids aren’t with you they’re still at the back of your mind. You’re still running through all you have to do that day, what you’ll eat for lunch. Mapping out the rest of your day until bedtime. That’s just how we are. I think women are almost pre-programmed to be this way.
The difference with single mums is you can’t divvy up the responsibilities and chores with anyone else –
“Can you bath him while I tidy up?”. “Will you pick him up from nursery while I make the tea?”….
You just know that it is all on you and you plan out your own time to try and fit everything in because you know there’s no one to share it with.
My Advice to Anyone Facing the Prospect of Being a Single Mum asking, “How Will I Cope”?
Reach out to the people closest to you. Build a little support network. Whether this is just one other person or 4 or 5. Don’t be scared or ashamed to ask for help and if someone offers help – take it! It doesn’t mean that you’re not coping or that you’re failing. We all need help and having someone else to take over for a while, even just for an hour can make the world of difference.
Who Do I Turn To?
I don’t know where I would be or what I would have done without my mum. From the day I brought Aiden home and she helped me make his first bottle, to the countless times she’s been at the other end of the phone for advice,
“Mum he’s hotter than normal what do I do!?” “Mum, he’s fallen and has a bloody nose, what do I do!!??”
I even catch myself saying the same things she said to me:
“What part of no don’t you understand?” “I’m going to count to 3…” “Because I said so.”
(I’m literally morphing into my mum!)
My mum’s the one who will take him over night if I have something on or just need a night off. Or who’ll take him to the park or out for the afternoon when I’m not well enough to do it or when he’s pushed me to my limit and she can see we need a break from each other.
She’ been there, twice. She’s seen it all before and teaches me how to handle things. Although she does seem to get way too much enjoyment out of some of the things Aiden does and likes to say to me,
“I hate to tell you Donna, but he’s just like what you were! Hahaha”
I know not everyone has their mum or one who is as supportive as mine, but reach out to the person who is closest to you – your granny, your best friend, an auntie….. They don even have to have experience with kids – you can learn together – but you need that one person who knows you best and who will support you no matter what.
I reconnected with a few old friends once I became a mum. I also made a few new friends along the way.
Mum friends ‘get it’.
They know how you feel and they’re there to offer advice, support and be someone who you can vent to without judgement because you know whatever you’re dealing with – be it tantrums, not sleeping, potty training, fussy eating – they’ve been there too! And you can talk about poop to them like no-one else!
I was lucky enough to have 5 or 6 friends who all had kids (all boys as well) just 1 or 2 years older than Aiden. Everything was still fresh in their minds so I got so much advice that I desperately needed and they were so generous with handing down old clothes and toys from their little ones – Aiden was literally kitted out in clothes for his entire first year thanks to my friends being so generous.
I cant tell you how much that helped and how much I’ve needed them to lean on. And still need them. They make me feel less crazy!
Just because your friend doesn’t have kids doesn’t mean they cant be there to support you.
My best friend loves Aiden as much as I do and she’s been there for me through everything. She was the first person I opened up to once Aidens dad left, she stuck by me through the entire pregnancy, she was the first person to hold Aiden in the hospital.
She can see when I’m stressed (or even just sense it when we’re messaging each other in emails) and when I just need to vent. To get it all out because she knows I don’t have anyone else at home to take the weight of everything off my shoulders.
She comes round, we have a coffee and she sits there silently listening to me moan for hours. I feed her cakes which makes me feel less like a shitty friend. But she’s there to let me moan and cry and it always ends in us laughing about the most random of things. That’s what friends do.
There are so many online mum groups – check out SingleParents.org for an example. Sometimes you feel more comfortable opening up to a stranger who doesn’t know you. Plus they can offer unbiased advice.
I joined a new mum networks when I first had Aiden. Look for online forums, blogs, social media. Google ‘single mum’ and you’ll find lots of great websites dedicated to life as a single mum
It’s a great comfort when you hear someone describe exactly what you’re feeling and you realise you’re really not as alone in what you’re experiencing and feeling as you might have thought you were. Because you do feel alone sometimes.
Look out for Part 2: Coping Strategies tomorrow (Link)
Stay Up To Date
Subscribe for FREE and get new blog posts, inspiration, recipes and more straight to your inbox