The ‘Part-Time’ Single Mummy

ID 34570989 © Phill Burrows | Dreamstime.com
ID 34570989 © Phill Burrows | Dreamstime.com

Firstly I wish to point out that I by no means wish to detract from the huge amount of work and sacrifice needed to be a single parent. Parenting is full on, all the time, no breaks, no time off, no sick leave, no monetary reward, so for one person to have to play the role designed to be played out by two is tough. How do I know this? I’m a happily married woman with a very hands on husband who lives with us. Loves us. Provides for us. He always has been a great father and in fact is pretty much better at most things parenting related than I am. The only ‘downfall’ is his job.

I often joke about being a part-time single parent. In reality it’s not really that funny however. I use the term so that others can get an insight into how difficult it can be on my own, although I am grateful that it is only part-time and have great respect for those who take on that role full-time. I do get to be a wife and I do have my husband’s support (over the phone) when he is working and know that financially he’s there to support us.

Saying all that, my husband’s job also has its advantages which I will go into later, but as I’m in a ‘oh my gosh I miss him so much’ mood, I might as well start with the parts that bother me.

  • Permanent night shifts. He has to leave at 7.30pm and doesn’t finish work until 8am leaving me at home alone with 3 children. Believe me there is only so much being able to watch what you want on TV that a woman can take!
  • Sleeping during the day. Have you ever tried to keep children quiet? All day? Everyday? It’s hard work and means we need to go out a lot. Ever realized just how noisy a Hoover/tumble dryer/washing machine on spin is? Bye bye to thoughts of getting on top of the housework and God forbid the doorbell goes!
  • Working weekends/bank holidays.  This means that as well as evenings alone with the children, it’s often down to me to do the ‘family fun stuff’ alone. Family-get-togethers minus my husband are a trend which has been going on for over 10 years now and you never really get used to them.
ID 49527760 © Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com
ID 49527760 © Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com
  • 7 nights on/7 nights off. Now this obviously is also a good thing, however, would you like to place a bet on how often special events fall on a working week? Yep. MOST OF THE TIME. The amount of times I’ve attended gatherings minus husband is impossible to count, and it really never gets easier. You can also put money on the fact that if illness strikes in our house, that it strikes on a working week.  Teething? Yep, you guessed it.  It also means we have to fit things in to the week that he is off. DIY, shopping trips, family days out need to be squished together in order to get done.
  • Working Christmas’/New Years Eve. For the past few years he has managed to ensure that he is off at Christmas and works NYE. This is thankfully due to the man working the alternate week being happy to work Christmas Day. This does mean that I tend to not celebrate New Year anymore, but we cherish our Christmas’ at least.
  • Never finding a routine which works for both weeks. Being on my own for a week means that I can pretty much do things my way. I settle into a routine which makes MY life easier. Baby won’t settle, come in ‘mummy’s’ bed. Let’s go out and visit ‘xyz’ for the day. Let’s go to ALL the baby groups 🙂 Then on weeks where my husband is off of work, I feel guilty for being out most days as its our time together. Time for Penny to spend time with Daddy. Suddenly there’s 3 in the bed and the little one said ‘erm, what the hell dad, you’re in my spot’.
  • Part time boss, part-time partner. One week I am the boss. I make/enforce the rules. The following week daddy comes in with different ideas. It’s when we notice the differences in our parenting styles the most.

Some of the positives however, are that after working a 7 night stretch, we get to spend 7 days and nights together (give or take some recovery sleep and the gym). This is when I can relax a little. There’s suddenly another adult around to change nappies, make bottles, do the bedtime routine, cook dinner!  Also I find that the teenagers tend to behave better. I’m a soft touch and for an easy life I tend to not be as strict as dad is when it comes to things like bedtime etc. I do try but they out number me and I’m often either in a comatosed state from watching CRAP on TV or seeing to Penny/night-time housework to enforce some rules.  A big positive to working the shift pattern he does, is that by booking 7 nights holiday, he automatically gets 21 nights off. Wooo!! Great in theory, but by the end of it, you do start to realise that you enjoy your own space a little bit and start missing knowing who’s copped off with who in Hollyoaks, or what’s new on Jeremy Kyle 🙂 (after about a day I’m back to missing him though).

I help to run a pregnancy and beyond group on facebook and hear very often about dads/other halves not pulling their weight with housework, childcare, romance etc.  It can be easy to fall into the ‘all men are a waste of space’ chit chat, but I always try and keep things balanced and reassure other women that not all men are like that.  There really are some hands on dads out there, and even though the majority of the childcare tends to fall on the mother, there are dads who don’t see caring for their children as ‘baby sitting’, or something they do as a favour, but as part of their job as daddy.  I have one of those men and I am eternally grateful for that.  Even though he works erratic, long hours which keep him away from home, I always know that his head and heart are at home with me and the children while he’s working and at home.

Do you sometimes feel like you are doing it all alone? Are you in a similar situation? How do you manage?

Em...x

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54 thoughts on “The ‘Part-Time’ Single Mummy

  1. mummy ms memories says:

    I am just like you… a part time single mum! We rock!! Hubby is an airline pilot so works 5 on 4 off 5 on 3 off pattern. One week is earlies so he is out the door by 3.30am on nights he leaves any time between 9am and 6pm and Is away until around 3am in the morning. When he is on days working he is pretty much useless due to the exhaustion, and then the first day off too! The keeping kids quiet is the hardest part for me! Thank fully he does his best with the girls and is as hands on as his job allows. The financial side means that I am not pressured back into work which helps. ALOT!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Dickinson says:

    My situation is a little like yours but over time it has got better. When Max was born my partner was on permanent night shifts and would be asleep in bed all day. He would be lucky to get 1 day off a week and it really was hard however he now does shift work which is either mornings and eves. When he works eves he does have a few hours sleep in the day but its a much more manageable lifestyle than what we used to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Daniella says:

    I feel like I’m doing it alone most of the time, my husband leaves for work before we wake and doesn’t get home until the youngest is in bed. He does nothing around the home unless I’m at breaking point and doesn’t do a lot at the weekends. I work from home usually 5 hours a day on top of being a full time carer to a toddler so you can imagine how angry I get.

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  4. Jenny says:

    I find it hard enough juggling my two children and their schedules, luckily my husband looks after himself 🙂 Your life sounds hectic but you obviously manage it all very well!

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  5. Sally Akins (@SallyAkins) says:

    Mark used to work away during the week, so I know how you feel. I used to find the hardest part was when he got home late on Friday night. He’d be exhausted after a long drive home, and I just wanted him to help me out while he just wanted to unwind. A very tricky situation!

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  6. The Perfect Blend says:

    Oh my gosh that sounds like hard work! I was previously a single parent to 3 and it sounds easier than what you have to fit in with! I guess life is full of compromises and you life is just another one of them 🙂 well done mumma, you’re rocking at this xx

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  7. ellie says:

    I split with my partner 3 months ago but even when he was here he was pretty useless. It’s not too difficult being a single mum as I have support from family and he is more hands on now he has left than he was while he lived here. So I get more me time now than ever before. I couldn’t do it all alone though, being a parent is the hardest job in the world.

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  8. Tori says:

    I kind of feel like this. My husband works full time, 7am – 7pm so he only sees the girls for an hour each day before bed. On his days off, I’m working (though I’m still on maternity at the moment). I don’t know how real single parents do it. They are amazing!

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  9. tinkypen says:

    What a great post. I feel like too. My husband does not work shifts or weekends but during the week he leaves at 7 and if he’s home by 7 that’s early. Which means mainly it’s me doing drop offs, school runs, after school clubs, dinner times and bed times. I like being in control of the routine but I do miss having someone to help out! He’s very hands on when he is at home. Agree not all men are a waste of space. I’m very thankful for all he does and it must be just as hard being away as it is being the one at home. Hugs

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  10. Harmeet Kaur Sidhu says:

    I was raised by a single parent, and this summer I spent four months parenting alone, as my husband was working in a different country. The surprising thing was bedtime was SO much easier without him. But I really got tired of keeping the four of us clean and fed!

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  11. TheLondonMum says:

    I sometimes consider myself a part time single parent. My partner works freelance int he film industry which often means he’s out the door before 6am and sometimes doesn’t arrive home until gone 11pm. Saturdays are work days too. Usually we can have weeks like this, and then he’ll get some time off for a couple of days before a new job comes in. It’s sooooooo tough!! I don’t know how single parents do it full time! x

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  12. Astrid says:

    I totally understand you miss your husband sometimes. My husband works evenings and that’s tough already (we dont’have kids but I’m disabled and need quite a bit of care). I can’t imagane what it’d be like if he worked nights (sometimes his shift ends at 3AM but that’s rare now). I understand that you making the rules one week and having to cooperate with your husband the next is tough on both you, your husband and your kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mamavsteacher says:

    I can again, kind of understand, my husband studies one evening a week and doesn’t get home until I’m ready to pass out. I definitely feel the difference in that one evening – I’m more tired but actually, it’s sometimes calmer without him around, but shhhhh, I definitely didn’t say that out loud! Popping over from The Blogging Mums Club on facebook

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  14. Anna,Dont Cramp My Style says:

    I can imagine how hard is! I dont have kids but I work 9-5 while my boyfriend works nights so i do have to be quiet when he sleeps days time on weekends. It bloody tought! I cant do ”noiseless” dinner neither shower and he shouts when he heard a tiny noise! Gosh I feel your pain haha you doing well!

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  15. Ickle Pickle says:

    This sounds tricky. I am a single parent of four – and I have moments where I feel I just can’t do it anymore. Thank fully, they are rare and pass quickly. I am also blessed to be super close to my kids 🙂 Kaz x

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