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People always ask me, “How do you cope”? I hate that question. If I had a choice I’d choose not to bloody well cope. I’d choose to lie in bed every.single.day. But little ones tend to object (trust me I’ve tried) so I have to cope. But incase you were wondering how, here are my five top tips. (For a more serious look at single parenting see my post 11 Realities of a Single Mum).
1. Be consistently inconsistent. I mean it’s consistent right and that’s what matters. Like the climbing on the windowsill rule, otherwise known as the not climbing on the windowsill rule. It changes depending on the energy I have to instil said rule. My son totally gets that there’s a rule about the windowsill, he’s just not too sure what it is.
2. Give up. I mean like on pretty much everything (apart from the love and laughter). Let your house become an absolute tip. I mean a real tip, letting the cobwebs get dusty doesn’t count, but if the underside of the bath mat is becoming black, well then you’re on to a winner*. Let your child run around the garden semi-naked. Stay in your PJs all day. Eat cereal for tea. Let the food be thrown around the kitchen and the toys behind the sofa. It might be hard at first, but once you give up fully and truly it becomes quite liberating.
3. Give up on routine. So technically this could have fitted in tip number two but it really deserves its own section. I know a lot of parents go the other way as it helps keep them sane but for me, not having a routine means that my child can cope with, well, with not having a routine – technically that is his routine. It means I can have friends round late without disappearing for an hour at bed-time while they quietly make their excuses and leave. I can come home way past his ‘bedtime’ without it being a big deal (he even has the occasional lie-in the next day!). And I can change his nap time to meet a baby-free friend if that’s when she’s free. I make sure he gets three meals a day (even if they are all cereal) and plenty of sleep, but without following a strict routine. After all, if I can’t do it with him it probably means I can’t do it at all.
4. Just do it. It doesn’t matter what it is** just go for it. It might be getting out of bed that morning – you can do it! Or heading to the park. You can! To the other extreme of travelling the world. Yes, it is possible. A friend once told me it’s just about attitude. I would remove the ‘just’, as attitude is one of the hardest things to cultivate if you’re having a shit day/ week/ year, but sometimes just saying sod it and going for it without actually thinking it through means that you can do it. That’s pretty much how I came to be travelling round South East Asia with my little one.
5. Have some crazy, unadulterated fun. God you’re probably already having a stressful enough time if you’re a (single) parent. Don’t give yourself a hard time, just enjoy it! Stop reading all those bloody judgemental blogs and remember – there’s lots of right ways to bring up a child and very few wrong ones.
Single parenting is essentially extreme parenting, so whoever you are, if you’re a parent hopefully these tips will help 🙂
*Yep, that is a photo of my gross bath mat at the bottom of this blog… see I really do mean it!
**Well OK, so I’m assuming it’s not anything life threateningly crazy!
On a more serious note if you too are a single parenting and you’re struggling, or heck you just want to meet a few other people in your position, then www.gingerbread.org.uk is a great resource. They have advice and information as well as lots of local groups around the UK. www.singleparents.org.uk also has some useful information and advice, as does www.single-parents-support.co.uk