A day in the life of a single mom
Two moms take us through the day-to-day reality of what it means to be a single mom, and provide some insightful advice for other single parents too.
“Becoming a parent made me reassess my priorities and learn to be open to asking for help...Being an independent woman, this was at times the most difficult thing to do.” (iStock)

Parenting alone is hard, and there’s no sugar coating it. These two strong moms shared their experience of raising their kids on their own.

Also see: 3 things I've learnt as a single parent

What's the hardest part of being a single parent? Tell us your story, and we could publish it on Parent24. If you want to stay anonymous, let us know. 

Isadore, 41, single mom to a 2-year-old boy

“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a parent,” Isadore told us, but as a divorced woman nearing 40, she says she needed to make a decision on having children.  

Isadore approached the Cape Fertility clinic to discuss her options. With their help, she froze her eggs to buy some time, then went through a year and a half of trying to fall pregnant, which she shares was by far the most difficult and emotional process that she's gone through.

“On what was set to be my final fertility cycle, I fell pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy.  

“Although I did a lot of research on being a single mom prior to having IVF, no amount of reading would have prepared me for the demands of being a single mother,” she says.

“But I firmly believe that children thrive with a routine, so I follow it strictly during the week. The weekend routine is a bit more lenient.” 

The family’s day starts at 5:30am with a bottle, breakfast and play, until about 7:30am.

Then it’s time to get dressed before the little one is dropped at playschool at 8:30am. The nanny fetches him at noon, and his afternoon nap is followed by arts and craft or playdates with neighbourhood kids.

It really does take a village to raise a child, Isadore stresses, so she makes sure she has a couple of friends that she can ask for advice and help.

“Becoming a parent made me reassess my priorities and learn to be open to asking for help when I need it. Being an independent woman, this was at times the most difficult thing to do,” Isadore reveals. “Also, my nanny is an extension of my family, and I must say that a trusted helper is essential.” 

Isadore gets home from work at 5pm, when they take a walk or play at home before dinner at 5:30pm.

“After he has eaten, we read or listen to music for 30 minutes. I make use of a meal delivery service, so I eat during this time, then it’s bath at 6:30pm to be in bed at 7:15pm with story time or lullabies. If all goes well, he is asleep at 7:45pm. 

“I have also come to establish my ‘capacity’: I can look after my little boy myself to a lesser extent, but should anything go wrong with the house, I need to call in help,” Isadore says, “and I definitely don’t have the disposable income I used to have – kids are expensive!

"But nothing would make up for the cuddles and love I receive from my son. Your whole world does change, and I don’t regret anything about it!”    

Also see: The single mom's survival guide

Andrea, 35, divorced mom of two girls, aged 7 and 4

“I am only 35 years old and already it always feels as if my whole life is this one big rush,” Andrea shared with us.

“I have been divorced for about three years, and each morning I miss the presence of that extra pair of hands.”  

Andrea was married for several years and after infidelity in the marriage, the couple agreed upon a divorce. The kids spend every other week with their dad when he does school drop off and attends school meetings.

“If the father is willing to assist, let him. Don’t allow your situation with the father to affect the children... [let them] live their best life,” she recommends. 

Andrea describes her typical day with the kids as frantic. “At 8am I’m usually stuck in a traffic jungle, despite having been awake for nearly three hours already.

"This is my daily struggle. Each evening I prepare frantically to make sure that the next morning runs smoothly, but mornings are generally not easy in my home.

"The alarm wakes us at 5am, then it’s a rush to wash, dress, eat and get out the door for school drop-off and then my commute to work.

"The draining part is that I know that after work the same process happens all over again. I rush home before school transport drops the kids at 5:30pm, then check homework and make supper.

"Supper is a struggle all on its own," Andrea adds. The girls often refuse to eat what was prepared and the youngest has allergies. Andrea cleans the kitchen afterwards, valuing this as free time alone, while the girls play in the bath. 

Bedtime is at 8pm for the girls, but Andrea says, “It’s only by 11pm that I can quietly get into bed with sore feet and a painful back and hope that I get a full night’s rest.”

When things get tough, Andrea calls on family to help. “My aunt stays with me during school holidays, when the school transport drops them at home a little earlier. I work till 5pm so I need someone at home to receive them. She sleeps over, which helps too.”

Her advice for single mothers is to “choose your battles, such as letting the kids dress however they want as long as they get dressed, and prepare meals in advance. I always try to stay calm, because an angry mother is a nasty mother, and I don’t want them to remember me that way.”

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What's the hardest part of being a single parent? Tell us your story, and we could publish it on Parent24. If you want to stay anonymous, let us know. 

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