Being a Single Parent and the Childcare Juggle

Jules and Flo on the beach

Jules and Flo on the beach

When you’re a parent it’s pretty hard to find – or make time for yourself, and even if you’re part of a couple it’s not the easiest of tasks.

When you’re a single parent, it’s much more difficult as most of the week you are the only adult in the house with the little ones, so just popping out to the shops, for a run or to see a friend takes much more organisation.

My situation as the only surviving parent means there are no weekends where the kids are at their dad’s. There is no-one to co-parent and share the load. I have so much help from my parents, even more so since I’ve moved to live closer to them, but I sometimes feel I rely on them too much and need to find some sort of plan B.

When Sam was a baby I wasn’t too fussed about going out; I was happy being in and making sure he settled, knowing that I’d be there if he woke up. As he grew older the nights out grew more frequent and as Roger was around, either he stayed at home or we called on his mum or brother to help out with babysitting.

Flo on Red Rocks

Now with two children and not much of a break, I’m trying to make more time for myself and I feel like I just need that break to go out and be me for a while. As I’m living close to my family I find it easier to say yes to invitations, as I know it’s easy for the children to go to my mum’s house for tea or a sleepover.

I really feel like I need that time as for me; it’s more than just having a night out, it’s about having some adult company, friends to talk to and a few hours where I’m not constantly called on by my kids. ‘Mum! Mum! Mummmmeeeee!!!’ twice over gets a bit much if I don’t give myself a break.

I mean there are some good things about being the only adult in the house – for example there are no two opinions, it’s my way or nothing! – but these are of course outweighed by Sam and Flo not having their wonderful dad around.

To get this ‘me time’ that I need I find I’m often having to ask around to see if anyone can babysit for a few hours. Like I said, I ask my mum a lot but it’s starting to feel like a bit too much and I’d like to know there were other people around that I could lean on.

One thing I’ve found to be a godsend is the online childcare agency Sitters, which I signed up to about 18 months ago. You pay to join each quarter, then whenever you need a babysitter you just log in to your account online and select when you need a sitter and who you would like it to be. All the childcarers are experienced, and many work as teachers, nannies or childminders through the day.

Flo on the beach with Molly dog

I found for someone like me who hadn’t paid a babysitter before, I got piece of mind booking through Sitters and I know I’ll always have a professional and reliable service – and usually a good chat with the provided sitter too!

Aside from Sitters, I could do with finding a few local babysitters who don’t mind watching my little ones for the odd hour while I go for a run, say, in the evenings.

I’ve found my way of coping with being a lone parent (sounds a bit like lone ranger, pass me my spurs!) is to make sure I carve out time in the week to just be me. Time to breathe and to think things through. The pressures of my life can easily become too much and without that bit of freedom I don’t think I could cope.

After all, as the saying goes you can’t pour from an empty cup.

x Julia

Sandy beach at Red Rocks

This post was written in collaboration with Sitters.

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