Guest Post: Single Parenthood – Tips for Your Well Being

Over the past twenty plus years my two daughters have been my greatest achievement; they have left me with very little money and no husband.

Single parenthood – Tips for your well being

There are many of us out there; single parenthood came to me at the age of thirty and then thirty-five, through to the present day. Let’s leave the speculation about the why, because that is a long and tawdry tale. I wanted to comment on the stress of being a single parent even before lock down happened. I cannot imagine the pressure on some single parents of the past few months, especially if they have a child with profound and multiple disabilities. Over the past twenty plus years my two daughters have been my greatest achievement; they have left me with very little money and no husband. Moments of greatest impact on my mood and anxiety were exacerbated by my neurotic tendencies pre-disposed and conditioned. Here are some of the most stressful things about being a parent. Which I think were amplified by being on my own. I wonder if you agree:

1. Being both parents – Strong, firm, disciplinarian but also accepting, understanding and educating. Sometimes having to be strict and serious and other times being the fun and exciting parents. It is exhausting, because although parents must be these things all wrapped in one. As a couple you can take turns and share the load. Lack of sleep and food! I was thin in those days and had a greyish pallor. Poor nutrition and sleep are major influencing factors for feeling low in mood and anxious.

2. Sacrifice – You cannot just take your turn to have a night out with your friends, it takes major organisation. You don’t get to take turn with anything and the children’s needs come first so you sacrifice time and looking after yourself. Then there is the challenge of being sole provider, knowing you must provide at a cost to your wellbeing. Buying them the best labelled clothes for fear they will be bullied if you don’t and wearing seconds and hand me downs yourself. Looking like you just got out of bed at 2.00 p.m. on a rainy Sunday when you have finally made it out of the house to let them run around a noisy ball pit and expel some energy and in actual fact you have had them stealing your space in your bed all night and they awoke at 5 a.m. Knowing you don’t look your best can really impact on your self-esteem and mood.

3. Loneliness – As intimated above, I haven’t been too lucky in the love department; but the little angels can get good at sabotaging relationships. It’s a whole new dynamic when a male comes on the scene in the Jenkins household. First it was the ‘no-one’s going to replace my dad’ and then it became ‘sod off old man, I can wrap my finger around my mum and you can’t interfere with that!’ Many nights on my own pondering when will I ever meet Mr Right who will adore me and my children? Yearning to meet someone to put the bins out and change the light bulbs and plugs. Everyone knows the impact loneliness has on your mental health.

What were the top things that helped me stay well?

1. Don’t be a mum all the time – My work gave me purpose, structure and a support community. My childminder shared the load. Even though the guilt would kick in a lot. The value of having adult conversations and feeling that I am contributing to the world and able to provide financially for my children boosted my esteem. I remember once my youngest saying, ‘can’t you stop work mum?’ I told her that I could indeed, but we would have no money for treats, holidays, new stuff and she would have to wear rags. She looked aghast and told me to get back to work straight away. The materialism of the young.

2. Diet and fitness – I’m not sure I truly got this right until more recently, so I wish I had known the benefits of knowing what is good to put in your body and how to get a good nights sleep, instead of endlessly trying to analyse the day and plan for the next one. There are now lots of apps that you can download to keep you on track. My wind problem could have resolved itself much sooner had I known about gluten and red meat.

3. Honour yourself – just remember to remind yourself you are amazing and are coping with so much and doing it well. Look at what you have achieved and reward you. I have tried different things, like treating myself to something new that I like but don’t necessarily need. I started buying a crystal once a month and put them in a dish to remind me off all the good things I had done. Allow yourself some you time and pay attention to your strengths and power. Sneak off to the bath and read a book when they have gone to bed and leave that washing up until the morning. You can do it with the breakfast stuff tomorrow.

What are your top tips? I have only scratched the surface on this topic. Huge respect to all parents, it’s a true gift but as I always say to my two. Giving birth taught me true love, enormous love for the little bundle and overwhelming fear at the same time.

4. No means no – keep the boundaries and don’t make that rod for your back, you won’t need it. You can still shower them with love and give them quality time but no means no and threats are followed through on.

Tovu Jenkins

02.07.20


About the Author

Tovu Jenkins is a new author who has just started to tell her story from the year she qualified as a mental health nurse back in the 80s. Her first novel introduces many characters in her life, and she is a few years away from being a parent at this point. Book two may introduce her as a wife and mother, something is going to happen to her husband if this blog is anything to go by, but what will it be? One thing for sure is that she is a thriver and much wiser for the colourful life she has lived.

See her new book: Born in the 60s Dancing in the 80’s on Amazon:

Single parenthood – Tips for your well being

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10 thoughts on “Guest Post: Single Parenthood – Tips for Your Well Being

  1. My top tip is to accept help. I was terrible for thinking I had to do it all myself. Even now I am living with my fiance, I still have single Mum mentality and try to do everything myself with no help. It drives him nuts.

    Great post, there are so many people in this situation, male and female that will find this helpful x

  2. Hey, this was very well written. I think parents should allow time and space not just to themselves but also to their kids as well. We both have a very similar blog and hence would love to connect on IG as well Instagram.com/changeoftomorrow

    COT | Changeoftomorrow.com

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sure it has taught my now grown up children to be just as grateful for time on their own and protect some ‘me’ time. Writing time is joyous time for me. They know I adore them but we are not dependent on each other, just incredibly important to each other.

  3. Being a single parent can’t be easy, it must be so hard to balance parenting and the kids on top of yourself and your own needs. A great insight, thank you for sharing.

  4. I know that being a single parent is challenging but Tovu Jenkins, you are an inspiration. I would definitely keep those things in mind for when the time comes for me to have my own.

    1. Thank you so much. I do hope people enjoy what I write and it touches them at some level to think about things differently or recognise themselves. I do hope you will take a peek at my book. Whilst only a newly qualified mental health nurse back in the 80’s I hope my story shows humour, compassion and helps the reader touch the vulnerability and strength in humankind.

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