How do single parents do it?

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Single parent

I’ve always had the greatest respect for single parents. My experiences over recent days have further proved to me that single mums and dads must be superhuman.

Mrs Adams, you see, went away for a couple of days with work. To be precise, she was only away for the one night but she left at 6am on Wednesday and didn’t get back until 10pm last night. This was enough to have me run ragged.

As a stay at home dad, I am quite used to running the household. My wife works long hours and so the early morning routine, lunch (for the toddler) school runs and most of the bed time routine are usually my responsibility.

I’m also quite used to keeping things running in Mrs Adams’ absence. Every few weeks she will spend a night or two away with work and I keep things moving. I won’t tell you I do it calmly or efficiently, but the kids are fed, their clothes are clean, homework is completed and so on (okay okay, the eldest went to school yesterday with uncombed hair but the world kept on turning, right?).

On this occasion, however, I really noticed my wife’s absence. It may simply be that I’ve gone down with a dreadful cold and therefore feel miserable, but it’s been very hard going. In a bid to keep on top of the housework, I took the kids to the library so they could select a film, thereby giving me time to tackle the messiest rooms.

Doing this caused me pain. Regular readers will know how much I hate using screen time to pacify the kids.

Even if I say so myself, I’ve actually done a pretty good job on the housework front, apart from the living room. I had to let something slide, and that was it. It presently looks like downtown Baghdad, circa 2003.

I also really missed having someone to put at least one of the kids to bed or to help with the evening meal. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes having another person to do just a little bit of washing up or to sit down and do homework with the eldest while I sort the toddler out on the potty. I have ended the days feeling absolutely knackered, much more so than usual.

I like to think I don’t take Mrs Adams for granted. Oh I’m sure I have my moments where I fail to recognise her efforts, but she does a lot for our family. These past few days have made me realise just how important her contribution on the domestic front can be.

At this point I’d like to make a causal observation, one that may get me in a little trouble. Every now and again I see mums on social media making fun of their other half’s domestic abilities (I occasionally hear it in the playground too). This always makes me feel uncomfortable, it’s as if they’re fair game because they’re men.

Are their abilities so bad they deserve to be humiliated in front of thousands of people they don’t even know? I always think it’s incredibly disrespectful, even if the intention was to be funny. I can honestly say I’ve never witnessed a stay at home dad do the same. I’m not naïve enough to assume it doesn’t happen, but I’ve never seen it.

So anyway, back to the original point of this post; how do single mums and dads do it (eight per cent of single parent households are headed by men)? I’ve had to run this household solo for two days and it’s almost done me in. I really don’t know how I’d cope if I had to do it all the time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a Lemsip.

The Dad Network

Pic credit: someecards.com.

17 thoughts on “How do single parents do it?”

  1. Good post and some great points of discussion!!
    A lot of time to be honest I run on autopilot. I believe that this is a stay at home parent activity. You have a list of things to do, including organising and entertaining children. I don’t see there being any difference there between being a single parent or a couple. The bit that stood out though is you not being well. This is crucial for me as a single parent. You don’t get respite or the chance to say ” hunny I’m struggling can you watch junior for 5 mins” and it’s the knowledge of that which is important. The very second you get caught knowing you won’t get back up is hard. Every day you do this but you have the knowledge that your partner will be home at x time. When you know that’s not the case you enter a forced isolation. Then there’s a difference. I try,although not easily, to still have that frame of mind. I see 7pm, their bed time,although the time that my partner gets home and then that’s my respite. I know being single it’s not that straight forward but it’s gives me that extra push to know there are hundreds of parents who are in the same boat.
    As for comments about the mums partner; I hear these comments all the time! It’s frustrating but I also know it isn’t acceptable to do the same. Men would get attacked if they did this!! I know I have in the past when I opened my mouth without thinking. It’s why I love the dad network and their motto of “cos dad’s are parents too” it provides an equal stays in a world where there is still a divide.

    Excellent and thought provoking post. Thanks for linking up to the #bigfatlinky

  2. My partner works long hours (leaves before 6am lucky to be back before 2am!) and often has to travel away for work and I have no idea how some people do it! I’m always saying to myself “he’ll be home soon” and it gets me through the day but for parents who don’t have that, hats off to them!

    Its a tough job and to be able to do that is incredible!


  3. I think they must have superpowers, as the amount of times I think ‘oh I will just do that when my hubby gets home’ or the amount of things that I rely on him doing around the house (I am so lucky he loves cooking cos I cant cook to save my life), so I honestly don’t know how I would cope on my own. Scary thought.

  4. This is such a good post and I so know what you mean. I honestly honestly don’t know how single parents do it. I really do take my hat off to them. All you need to for a parent to feel even ‘a bit ill’ or the kids to go down with something and then it’s really too much. An amazing group of people I say! #BigFatLinky

    1. Yes, a bit ill and the wheels fall right off. This is basically what happened to me last week. No idea how single mums and dads do it but they are great people.

  5. I absolutely agree with you on this, and said something similar in some of my return to work posts. I couldn’t do the job of parent – and work full time – without my husband (who also works full time shift rotations). We’d be lost without each other. Single parents are incredible; I should know ‘cuz my mum was one!

    Great post. x

  6. I have so much admiration for all the single parents who somehow manage to keep it all together. I’m always so grateful when hubby comes home after a long day at work. I love my children but I NEED adult company. #bigfatlinky

  7. I have eternal respect for my wife (not that I didn’t already) because she has to look after our boy Monday to Friday when I’m at work. You’re not far off when you say they’re superhuman. She never (well, rarely) complains and every other night, despite being busy all day puts Isaac to bed as we usually take it in turns. She’s amazing.

    Great post.

    I wrote something similar, and more eloquently here. http://diaryofapregnantmanchild.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/superparents.html

  8. I ask myself this question ALL the time. I think they must be a superhuman breed or similar. Huge respect to them all! #bigfatlinky

  9. Great post, as a single parent of what feels like eternity but is in fact 10 years, its nice to hear a bit of praise every now and then, I’m currently on my four week count down for my first break since new year and I am exhausted. But I think any parent is awesome, single or not, it’s a hard job whatever your circumstances. X

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