BEING a parent is hard, even if you have a partner to share the load with — but single parents don’t have that luxury, which means being a solo mum or dad is extra tricky.
Blogger Jo Middleton, aka @slummysinglemummy, agrees that single parenting can be tough. But the UK mum-of-two, whose candid and laugh-out-loud social media platforms have more than 118,000 followers, is keen to stress it’s really not all bad.
Middleton, aged 41, who began her blog back in 2009, when her daughters Bee and Belle were just 7 and 14, and has just written her first novel Playgroups & Prosecco (Ebury Press, £7.99, available now), says: “Being a single parent is hard work, there’s no getting away from it. It can feel relentless, both in a practical way and emotionally too.
“Having to be responsible for all the family decision-making, without someone to compare notes with, can feel like a huge amount of pressure, and let’s not even start on the fact that you always have to be the one to take out the bins.
“Like most situations in life, though, being a single parent is essentially what you make it. Yes it can be lonely sometimes, and a bit sad when you get home and literally no one, apart from the cats, cares about how your day went.
“But if you pack all that away at the back of your head, there are actually quite a lot of benefits to being the sole parent,” adds Jo.
Here the cheerful singleton highlights eight of the best things about being a single parent — and one of the worst.
“Because it’s always you. This might sound like a raw deal, but there’s something quite nice about knowing it’s your mess and your responsibility, and not seething with resentment every time you see a wet towel abandoned on the bedroom floor.
“Plus, when you’re the only grown-up you can just employ a cleaner (if you can afford it) or pay a child to do it and not have to feel bad about not pulling your weight.”
“Good cop? Bad cop? It’s totally up to you. You get to say exactly how your children are parented and no-one can complain if one week that means all devices are switched off by 6pm for wholesome family game nights and the next week you all slob about on Instagram until bedtime.
“Sure, consistency is better in the long-term, but you can come to that conclusion yourself.”
3. You get the whole bed to yourself
“Ha! Who are you kidding? You know that children can sniff out space in a bed from a mile away, don’t you? Still, at least there’s one less full-sized adult in it, which means even if you do find yourself with visitors in the middle of the night, you’ll still get a decent share of the duvet.”
“And no-one raises their eyebrows and says, ‘Seriously, what are we actually having for dinner?’ because children think cereals are a treat.”
“See the point above about cereals. Actually, you spend less on pretty much everything, except perhaps wine, but everyone knows wine is an investment purchase. Okay, more of an investment if you don’t drink it.”
“You might not go out as much, but you can have friends over in the evening, or to stay for weekends, and drink cheap white wine without anyone complaining you’re being noisy, or telling you a 40-year-old woman doing drunk videos for Instagram stories is pathetic. It is not. It’s cool. Everyone knows that.”
“This one’s a bit like the housework — if you spend the week’s food budget on a particularly friendly-looking houseplant then it’s okay because you only have yourself to blame and nobody to say unhelpful things like, ‘But you know the children need school shoes’.
“It’s true, finances might be harder to manage on one income, but it can often feel easier to stay in control when you don’t have conflicting spending habits to worry about.”
“Every night! It’s bliss. You don’t have to pretend to be interested in sport or history or current affairs or boring things like that, you can just watch back-to-back Married at First Sight USA if you want and no-one will judge.
“But make the most of this when the kids are young, as it won’t be long before they’ll ruin your evenings by turning into teenagers and insisting on watching vampire-based box sets until you give in and go to bed first.”
No-one brings you a cup of tea in bed in the morning
“Never ever,” moans Jo. “If you want tea you have to actually get out of bed and make it, which totally ruins the fun. Going back to bed with a cup of tea is not the same at all.
“This may seem like a little thing, but honestly, isn’t tea in bed the best thing about being in a relationship? Yes, there’s the added perks of a dual income and shared parental responsibility, but you just can’t beat a cup of tea in bed, ideally with a side order of Jaffa Cakes. Fortunately, this one is easily overcome with a stash of Jaffa Cakes in your bedside table and a strategically placed thermos, so perhaps being a single parent isn’t so bad after all.”