Being a parent is hard. Being a single parent is harder – much harder!
I was a full time single parent for eight years before I met my partner. What a ride it was…
When I was about ten weeks pregnant, my ex husband broke up with me. After many years together, a baby on the way and a recently-bought house, he decided he was unhappy and family life was not for him. I literally could not believe and, for months, I thought he was just going through a bad, but temporary, emotional breakdown! I was wrong, the breakup was not temporary!
Things got a lot worse before they got better. Just before going on maternity leave, the company I worked for closed down. So, I found myself pregnant, single and unemployed! Needless to say, I was broken – emotionally and financially!
It was strong resilience, determination and community that got me through it all. I had my beautiful baby, went back to the workforce as soon as I could, got myself into a more stable emotional and financial position and, after many years and battles, bought his share of the house! The icing on the cake was to find love again!
To all wonderful single parents there, here are my top tips:
Take it one day at a time!
It is often hard to picture a pretty future when your life is collapsing before your eyes. What helped me was to focus on ‘what needs to be done today’ and to find joy in what was possible to achieve ‘here and now’. Often small things like having coffee with an old friend or watching a nice movie were the highlights of my life.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Divorce, property settlement and grief do not get sorted overnight. In the name of ‘getting on with life’ and ‘closing that painful chapter’, it is tempting to just rush through it and sign off on whatever deal your ex brings to the table. Think long-term benefits versus short term relief!
Know your rights!
Seek advice from the experts. While involving lawyers is a last resort – they are expensive- a few appointments here and there to clarify things is money well spent! Information is power!
Find your community!
After I had my baby, I joined a local playgroup to connect with other local mums. Big mistake! They were all lovely and all, but I was the only single parent! Being around women happily married – a lot of them pregnant with another baby – was not what I needed at the time.
Luckily, there are many ways to connect with other single parents via social media platforms. Make the most of it! Not only was I able to connect with people who understood what I was going through, I also found an amazingly supportive community. We took turns looking after each others’ kids, went on day trips together, and most importantly, developed lifelong friendships!
Be Money Smart
A lot of people ask me how I was able to refinance the mortgage and buy my ex’s share of the house on a very average income. There is no doubt I spent many sleepless nights thinking about how I was going to pay my next bill. Single parenting is financially tough! One option was to move back to my parents’ – they kindly offered- but I knew I would not be happy there – it would always be their house. So, finding a sharemate who could rent a room in my house was my best chance! There was no doubt in my mind that the perfect sharemate for me was another single parent. Unsurprisingly, living together is not always a walk in the park, but there are a lot more pros than cons!
Guest Writer: Sara Evans is a writer and co-editor at MumsDelivery. She was a single parent for 8 years before meeting her partner and his two kids in 2016. They now live together as a happy blended family.
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