The most challenging thing about being a single mother is the constant, unrelenting tiredness.
The entire time I’ve been a mother, I’ve been a single mother. I don’t know any different, so I don’t really know if mothers who have a partner around have exactly the same issues as me. I was talking to a friend about this the other day, and she pointed out that no, if you have a husband or partner there, they can get up in the morning with the baby from time to time; they can take their turn at doing the washing up, cooking the tea, putting baby to bed. I do all of that myself. And I still breastfeed my daughter too, which burns a fair few calories and serves to make me even more tired!
People don’t really seem to understand, either. When you’re a new mum, and your baby is still teeny tiny and crying, then it’s fine to be tired. People expect that. They tell you, “sleep when she sleeps” and you slob about the house thinking “this is just a new mum thing, right?”
By the time your bundle of joy is a year old though, people kind of expect you to be used to it/handling it/all together and sorted out.
I’m here to tell you: as a single parent it doesn’t get any easier when they’re a bit older. If anything, it’s more difficult. Realistically, you can’t sleep when they sleep on a regular basis, otherwise who will do the washing up? Who will clear up today’s mess and prepare for tomorrow? They might learn to sleep better at night, but they still wake up earlier than you would like on your day off. They still go through stages of waking in the night. And as they get older, they sleep less in the day, and want more of your attention. And then you factor in returning to work, and it gets worse.
I work Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. On a Monday evening it’s a mad rush to get my daughter fed, bathed and in bed at a reasonable time. Then I have to clean up the mess from dinner, wash up, make myself a packed lunch for the morning, make sure there’s something ready for breakfast, something out for tea, get out clean clothes for both of us for the next day. Sometimes I even eat some dinner. By Tuesday afternoons at work, I am always completely ruined. I drag us home from nursery on a Tuesday evening, and usually fall asleep putting my daughter to bed.
As a result of all this, I am constantly in a semi-zombified state. I have been known to yawn in people’s faces, to drop meals on the floor, to leave the fridge door open all night, or the milk on the counter for hours (only a full bottle, of course). I also muddle my words a lot, which is not great when you are a) a budding writer, or b) trying to teach your toddler new words.
Oh dear, I’ve painted a fairly bleak picture there haven’t I. The truth is that yes, it is bloody hard. And yes, I am bloody tired. Whenever you are reading this, at any given point of the day, assume that I am knackered. And so is every other single parent out there. But in reality, tiredness is a small price to pay. I love my daughter infinitely, and will happily waive my right to lie-ins from now until she’s a teenager, if it’ll make her happy.
By Vicky Charles, Single Mum of 1 – Blogs at Single Mother Ahoy
I agree with Vicky that being a single Mum is very hard! My son is starting school soon and even though I feel it is getting easier there are still lots of parenting challenges. As I write this I am very tired! My son wet the bed last night (in my bed!) so I’ve had about 6 hours sleep – I went to bed at 11.30pm and woke up at 6am. I’m currently working on my blog at 8am before I have to get ready for work in the city. My son is sleeping so I still have to get him up and feed him all before we have a mad rush to nursery!
Being a single parent is hard as we have to do everything ourselves. There is no rest time and as Vicky pointed out we can’t ‘sleep when our baby is sleeping’ or nothing will get done.
However like I always say I love being a Mum and the positives outweigh the tiredness and all those other single parenting challenges.