My name is Kirsten.
My family consists of me, and my son, who’s six and a little legend. Louie lives with his Dad about 40% of the time and spends the rest with me.
I’ve been a single parent since my marriage ended in 2016. It was the hardest time of my life, but it’s been the making of me!
My work life balance is getting better. I have spent almost six years building up my HR consultancy business to a great place, and during that time I’ve moved from working two days and naptimes to five days and evenings. Now the evenings are a little less regular but they do still happen! I just try to build time into my working week for me, like walks or exercise while the boy is at school, lunches or walks with friends, and the odd morning off to just watch TV! I’m lucky to be able to manage my time this way because I’m self-employed.
My secret to getting everyone ready in the morning is always think one step ahead! I am constantly planning what I need for the week/day ahead and making sure I do everything the day/eve before is key. I also try to do easy but healthy breakfasts that can be cooking while I am doing something else, (or cereal or toast and fruit if time is short because I’ve stayed in bed too long, which is a regular occurrence!) I’ve worked on routine with my son so he knows what needs doing next and he is now in charge of making sure he’s dressed, teeth brushed, and his school bag is ready. It definitely helps!
My support network consists of my boyfriend, who lives an hour away, my neighbours, and friends mostly via WhatsApp or Frolo! I don’t live near my parents as I moved away from my home town when I met my son’s Dad. It can be very isolating sometimes and I have to make a conscious effort to see friends regularly.
The bit I find hardest is doing EVERYTHING myself, from maintaining an old cottage, which seemed like a romantic dream at the time but can be hard work, (I get mice), running a business, making sure my son has all that he needs, and taking care of myself! I just try to do the minimum most of the time, and let things slide if I need to, for my own sanity!
My me-time consists of either fun times out with friends, eating, dancing or vegging at home. I love a long bath watching Netflix too! I am trying to do at least one thing a day for myself at the moment!
If I could change one thing to make life easier I’d live closer to my family. It’s hard being so far away from them, but it’s been over 11 years so I’m kind of used to it now!
One thing I love about being a single parent is that my relationship with my son is so close and special. I used to feel so inferior to traditional families and now I just love mine!
Dinner times at our house are normally quite quiet – we both love to eat! I always want to chat but my son has his head down scoffing so I have to find other moments for our deep and meaningful chats!
Our bedtime routine is a cuddle in front of the TV, a game of something like Uno, bath if it’s bath night, teeth brushed…. My boy puts his pj’s on straight from school normally – he’s learnt from me it’s what you do as soon as you get home! We then go up to my room and read a story in bed. He likes to use the two minute meditation on my Fitbit as well, I have no idea what started him on this but its such an amazing habit – I don’t always manage to meditate when on my own! Then we cuddle and chat before he goes to sleep. He’s started getting up recently to check I’m still there, but generally he’s really good at going to bed. It’s certainly easier now he’s older, I don’t miss the baby years in that way!
My best single parenting hack is OUTSOURCE! I spent years thinking – my God I just want a cleaner and when I actually thought about it, I could get 5 hours per month cleaning for just over £50. I realise that is a lot for some but I looked at my budget and realised I could make a few tweaks to afford it. I also look at it from the point of view that I can work for 5 more hours a month which actually means I earn more. I also ask my Mum/Dad/boyfriend to help with stuff when they are staying – makes a huge difference and people love to help.