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Monday, 12 May 2014

Single Parent Spotlight: Danielle Palmer

The aim of these interviews is to show how amazing us working single parents are. I’m sick of seeing the bad press single parents get, especially because some single parents have unfortunately taken the choice to live off benefits, or even worse, have children in order to get benefits, and we all seem to get tarred with the same negative brush!

I want to highlight how hard, but also how rewarding being a working single parent is, and to hear how other people in my position handle the tougher times, in the hopes I learn how to be the best parent I can be!
 
My second interviewee is the very strong and amazing Danielle Palmer, 35 from East Sussex, who has a 4-year-old daughter, Isobel.
 
Danielle
 
How old was your daughter when you became a single parent, and how did this come about? Izzi was 2 years and 4 months when we separated.  My ex was an alcoholic and was addicted to prescription drugs prescribed for a back condition.  I felt unable to work full time, keep house, support him emotionally and financially as he wouldn't/couldn't work and be a mum without any spousal support.
 
He wouldn't admit to his addictions and we were fighting constantly. He seemed to not want to be around the house or me and Iz.  He preferred the pub or beach with the dog. I never felt that he supported me in looking after Izzi or wanted to do anything as a family. I felt that that he saw her as my responsibility.
 
What things have you found hardest as a single parent?
Lack of sleep!!! Not being being able to go out, have a wee in peace!! Financial pressures, although I always had those as my ex wasnt working the last 2 years of our relationship.
 
What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion?
The special bond we share. I love our lazy sundays when the weather's bad. Breakfast in bed, reading books. Bliss.
 
Making the decisions alone and not having to compromise on your opinions of parenting your child.
 
Have you faced any negative judgements/stereotypes for being a single parent? If so can you share with us what happened and how it made you feel?
I haven't.  But then, I wouldnt allow anyone to judge me. As long as they keep their opinions to themselves there wouldnt be a confrontation.
 
In this day and age it's not an unusual thing to be a single parent. I'm proud of how I'm bringing up my daughter.  Single parents (mums and dads) do a very difficult job,it's a juggling act.
 
What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child?
At first it was pretty horrific.  He was obsessed with the notion that I was having an affair, which I wasn't. As time went on we had ups and downs. Nasty emails and messages were exchanged and tense conversations/arguments but never in front of our daughter.
 
Throughout it I had to focus on Isobel and not my thoughts on his behaviour. 
Since he completed rehab (6 week residential) we have been building a better relationship. He comes in the house and we can share a coffee in the garden whilst Izzi shows him her trampolining.  It's good that she sees us as friends and is not torn between us.
 
How much contact does the father have?
This is a bug bare of mine. Izzi sees her dad once a week for 6 hours, and never overnight. I dont think it's enough, and it certainly doesn't give me a break. I have raised the issue but this is all he will commit to. He does take her to shows and if I ask will have her for an extra day so I can work.
 
I find it difficult to understand why he would not want her more, but thats for her to query if and when she's older. He is a good father.
 
Danielle & Isobel
 
 
How does Izzi cope with contact?
Iz loves her dad and has no problem with seeing him.  I think as we are always friendly she doesn't see it as an issue. I have never spoken a bad word about her father to her and never would. Any issues I have are mine not hers.
 
Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount?
I don't receive any payments but that's a private arrangement.
 
What's your job, and how many hours do you work per week?
I work in a family court as a clerk. I recently reduced my hours from 37 to 25, which hurt my pocket a lot
 
Who looks after Izzi when you're working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements?
Isobel attends nursery 4 days a week from 8 to 3. She was attending 4 days 8 to 6 when I first separated and that was ongoing for a year as I was working full time.
 
My mum looks after her for1 day a week.
I hate that Izzi is in nursery so much, but it's much better than before.
 
How old was Izzi when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work?
I went back to work when she was ten months. I would have liked the year off but we couldn't afford it.
Unfortunately I was told by my boss that unless I came back full time I would have to stand down as the department manager (this is not where I work now). This definitely soured my return to work,but I enjoy working and couldn't be at home all day.
 
Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why?
All the time. Isobel used to ask me every morning "where am I going today mummy?" which wrenched my heart. Try explaining paying a mortgage to a four year old!!!
 
I feel much happier part time. I get to bake cakes and take her to the park where as before we wouldn't get home much before 6 and bed for her was 7.
 
What's your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?
I couldnt survive without them. Although I dont understand why you can receive child tax credits if you are solely on benefits (esa,jsa,income support) as you dont pay tax!
 
What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how?
I don't get out much. Once or twice a month maximum.  However I have become a firm believer in pub lunches with girls and the kids! There's a great place near me with a fab garden.
My friends tend to come to me for dinner etc
 
Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again?
I have dated, but in hindsight it was too soon. I'm happy with being single right now.
 
What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent?
Think of the positives
Try to make time for yourself
Don't hide away or feel ashamed.
 
If you want to be interviewed for Single Parent Spotlight, please contact me with your details.
 
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