- Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:44 pm
Just wanted to let you know that it can be done! I've been looking after my daughter and working full-time for the last 4 years, and although it's been no walk in the park, one of the consolations of doing it on your own is that most decisions are made by you quickly and easily (assuming you don't have a difficult co-parent). The main advice I can offer is to look after yourself first and foremost (and that's not being selfish). In other words, if I'm not happy and healthy, then I'm no good to anybody, so be kind to you (e.g. get a massage, do a gym workout, catch up with friends for a dinner, etc).
For me the key thing that made a difference to my quality of life was to outsource. If you don't have close friends, relatives, or a co-parent to give you a break every now and again, then outsource...outsource...outsource. I know some parents dread handing their child over to (cue scary horror music) a 'stranger', but if you're a sole parent like me, then seriously getting over that fear was the best thing I evvvvver did! I found a babysitter with a police check and references, and my daughter also started full-time child care from 9 months old. Being in that environment from such a young age means she has practically no separation anxiety, is a happy social little lady, and is more emotionally and educationally advanced. If I'd kept her at home to soothe any anxiety or guilt on my part then I doubt that would've been the case...there is only so much I can do.
Seriously...I drop my daughter off these days and run out the door screaming "mum loves you" without so much as a backwards glance. How? I know I'm doing an amazing job on my own, I've overcome an adverse situation (I have an incredibly difficult co-parent), and it feels fabulous that I'm kicking goals despite the obstacles that have been put up (so I have zero guilt). It takes some serious work to get there, but I promise you will get that feeling of a job well done too.
Final note, not sure what your co-parent is like, but if there is no genuine risk of abuse or similar such issue...then don't limit contact between him and kids. Why? Think of him as a free babysitting service, and your kids will thank you for it in the long run. My x moved overseas, stopped paying child support, and still owes me thousands and thousands of dollars, but no way would I stop him from seeing and spending time with our daughter (when he bothers to visit).
Similarly, if there is no genuine risk of abuse or similar such issue with family members on the co-parent's side, then let them babysit too! I'd even consider my x's new girlfriend as a potential free babysitter too (shame she lives overseas)!
Not sure if your co-parent situation is anything like mine, but here are some rules I've set for myself:
(1) Don't be spiteful or make a rod for your own back;
(2) Accept that free babysitting service; and
(3) Take satisfaction in the knowledge that he is in struggle town population one trying to care for a child he rarely sees.
Think how hard it must be to look after a child you hardly know...throw in a tantrum of two...and whallah mega stressed dad. I can't help having a quiet chuckle to myself when my 'co-parent' drops our daughter off, and I can tell he has had a hard time dealing with a meltdown or other minor issue.
Anyway, good luck and all the best.
(1) Don't feel obliged to discuss your sole parent situation at interviews. If you must, then wait till you've got the job, and then it's for them to accept.
(2) Also, nothing wrong with dropping back to part-time work temporarily, when you're feeling overwhelmed and need to get a handle on things.