How do single parents make it work in real life? What does the average day look like? Lucy, single mum to Buddy, shares her tips with Frolo.
My name is Lucy.
My family consists of me and my son Buddy, who’s just turned three.
I’ve been a single parent since I separated from Buddy’s Dad in 2019. We moved into a new place in the October.
My work life balance is a lot better than it was! When I became a single mum I shifted my focus to Buddy, being the best mummy I could be, and continuing to build my business. That didn’t leave much time for me and I think it actually became a way of not processing all that had happened.
Over the last six months I’ve worked hard to create some boundaries with my work and instil some healthy self-care habits. I feel very grateful to have my own business as I’ve been able to be around far more for Buddy than if I was still working in London. Buddy is the reason why I do everything I do when it comes to work, but I know I need to have time out too otherwise I can’t be a very good mum or business owner.
My secret to getting everyone ready in the morning is being organised. I get Buddy’s bag for nursery packed and leave it by the stairs with his book bag. I get his clothes out and sometimes mine too. Last year during the first lockdown, (and after reading the book ‘Miracle Morning’), I went through a spell of getting up at 5am and it was a real game changer, even for someone who’s not a morning person in the slightest. I’m hoping to get back to that when the mornings are lighter as I really enjoyed that time to myself first thing and found it set me up for the day.
My support network consists of my mum and dad, who live about 25 minutes away, my brother and sister-in-law, and some great friends. Obviously we’ve not been able to see many people for a while, but my neighbours are my support bubble and they’ve been an amazing support to us both over the last year. Being able to have some adult company when Buddy’s with his dad has been really nice as that’s one of the things I’ve found hard since the pandemic started.
The bit I find hardest is having to do everything myself and carrying the mental load on my own. There’s no one here to do bath time if I want to sit down for five minutes or change the sheets during the night when Buddy’s unwell and being sick everywhere! Also I often feel sad when Buddy leaves to go to his dad’s, it’s a real ‘all or nothing’ rollercoaster of emotions as a single parent I think.
I always tell myself I’m ‘good enough’ and no one is smashing it every single day.
My me-time consists of eating out and drinking cocktails with friends, (can’t wait to do that again), cycling, cooking delicious food and going to bed at 8.30pm with a book or Netflix. I lie on my acupressure mat most evenings for about 20 minutes whilst I do some visualisation exercises – the mat really helps with the tension in my back and helps me sleep better too. I also like to journal and usually write first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Since suffering from anxiety, (which was particularly bad last year), I’m hooked on sleep stories on the Calm app, they really help me to relax when I turn the light off to go to sleep.
If I could change one thing to make life easier it would be to have a housekeeper! I hate doing the food plan, food shop and cleaning and washing. I’d have so much time to spend doing other things if I didn’t have to do all that stuff!
One thing I love about being a single parent is the bond that we share and how close we are. He recently said thank you to me for working so hard and earning money for us to do nice things. It made my day!
Dinner times at our house are usually at about 5pm as Buddy’s tired when he gets back from nursery, we eat together at the table. I don’t mind eating early as it gives me more of an evening when he’s in bed.
Our bedtime routine is bath then bed by 7pm although he’s recently moved to a big bed and spends about half an hour getting out! After his bath we snuggle in my bed and read a story and he likes to look at old videos and photos on my phone of things we have done together. I’m really grateful that since he was a baby he’s always slept quite well and I’ve not had any problems getting him to sleep. I had a traumatic birth and suffered a fair bit when he was a newborn so that was a wonderful gift when he was a baby!
We all have bad days and I want Buddy to understand that, I’m not perfect and I don’t expect him to be either.
My best single parenting hack is to not strive for perfection. I’m happy if the house is messy and there are toys everywhere, or if we go for a walk and Buddy gets covered in mud and I have loads of washing to do when we get back. The pre-baby me would have got uptight about stuff like that but being a parent has made me a lot more chilled out, which feels so much better than always wanting everything to be perfect. I always tell myself I’m ‘good enough’ and no one is smashing it every single day. We all have bad days and I want Buddy to understand that, I’m not perfect and I don’t expect him to be either.
Did you enjoy Lucy’s story? Have a read of another post from our How I Make It Work series.