As a single mum I am more aware of coming across as a ‘hot mess’ (love that term) than I was when I was living with my ex-husband. I don’t know if it’s because some days I can feel more judged for being a single mother, than I was as a married mother. I don’t feel that logistics are more difficult as a single mum. It can be a case of swapping one set of complications for another. I don’t have to juggle having someone living with me in the house, I only have to think of me and the boys, however there are different challenges. For example popping out to the shops means I have to take the boys with me, even if it’s bedtime, they’re in pjs and have to wait in the car while I pop to Tesco.
The realities of having to do everything yourself is that sometimes the ball gets dropped. Last year I had to miss one child’s Nativity because the other child was ill and at home with me. Sometimes the house isn’t as clean and tidy as I’d like it to be, because I’m running it alone and juggling the wants and needs of my children, communicating with and shuttling them to and from their Dad’s house. On top of that, there’s my partner and his daughter to consider. When you get used to doing all this on your own, it can be hard to let go and ask for help. My partner’s amazing at stepping in, looking after the kids, tidying the house etc. Luckily he does this of his own accord because I find it difficult, really difficult to ask for help.
When things stack up, especially around busy times like now; when the kids have all returned to school, and we’re trying to balance diaries, plan their birthday celebrations, alongside their other parents, and people keep mentioning the dreaded ‘Christmas’ word, I can feel overwhelmed and hit breaking point.
For me breaking point was the saucepan cupboard. Yes really. On our last camping trip I forgot to pack pots and pans and had to stop at a Tesco Extra to buy the biggest wok, saucepan and colander I could find. Had I known that 24 hours later I would set fire to the gas stove and nearly send the tent up in flames, I would have reconsidered and ordered take-away. When we got home I added the new pans to the cupboard, crammed the door shut and hoped for the best. While it wasn’t ideal, I managed to live with it for a couple of weeks, strategically planning that the pots would only be used/washed up/put away when my partner was here so he could do it.
Yesterday morning was the breaking point. In a busy week, involving multiple trips to the car garage, a failed MOT, realising my son’s trainers were at his Dad’s house on a day we needed them, his wellies (needed that second) for Forest School, were 2 sizes too small and we were all running late, I went to the cupboard and decided in that minute, that I couldn’t live with this anymore. It’s funny what we fixate on. After dropping the boys at school I came home, reordered the cupboard without negatively thinking that it would all come undone the minute I needed a pan in a hurry and it set me up for the day. Ok I didn’t get shed loads of work done, but I did get the house in order and doesn’t the saying go along the lines of ‘tidy house, tidy mind’. Let’s hope it’s true.