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Monday, 1 September 2014

Single Parent Spotlight: Tracey Bowden

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 in the media, because some single parents have taken the choice to live off benefits, or even worse, have children in order to get benefits. 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 ninth interviewee is 33-year-old Tracey, a fellow blogger who lives in Wirral with her 8-year-old daughter.
one frazzled mum single parent spotlight
Tracey & Her Daughter




How old were your children when you became a single parent, and how did this come about? 

I separated from my daughter’s dad just after she had turned 3. We had recently moved into a new flat and he was in bed as he worked nights when I asked to use his phone as mine had died to ring my mum. There was a message on the screen,  it was a new phone I had no clue what I was pressing and accidentally opened a message which basically spelt out that there was something going on between him and a work colleague. This we could of possibly worked out but when I asked him if he wanted to work things out and continue to live with me and our daughter or move out he said “I don’t know!” This made my mind up and we called it quits that same day.

What things have you found hardest as a single parent? Not having any support at home. Handling the tantrums and tears alone. It can get frustrating at times. There is no one at home to shoulder the responsibility, everything parenting and non parenting falls to you and I find it a bit overwhelming at times. I also, sometimes, miss the adult company.

What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion? I love the closeness we have together now, just us two in our little bubble, living how we want to live, setting our own rules and living the way it suits us. I also love that as I can parent how I want, rules, boundaries, and routines as it suits the two of us.

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 really faced any negativity for being a single parent not even at work.

What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child? At first we had an amazing relationship better than when we were together but then he met someone and it all descended into chaos with direct contact between us impossible for a long time. Now they have split up (he's finally seen she wasn’t a nice person) we have worked hard at trying to get back to somewhere near what we had. It will never be as it was but we are able to speak to each other and hold an adult conversation and are always pleasant to each other now.

How much contact does the father have? We have a loose arrangement these days but contact has always varied throughout the years with him having a lot of contact through the week. We both stay in touch regarding things we need to discuss and are both flexible towards contact. She also Facetimes him regularly off her ipod and messages/rings him from my phone too whenever she wants to (or wants something).

How does your child cope with contact? I think right now we have the right balance for contact. She has always been able to see him whenever she wants outside usual times or ring him to talk to him. She really has coped well with it aside from when he was with mentioned ex when she didn’t want to see him at all. It helps we live within walking distance of each too.

Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount? Yes he pays maintenance. At first it was arranged between us with him paying a lot more than he needed to. These days he pays an amount worked out from the child support agency. He also contributes towards things like holiday spends, school uniform, new shoes and out of school clubs.

What’s your job, and how many hours do you work per week? I work in retail and I am, as of writing this about to go back to work full time as a supervisor. This will change from me doing around 25 hours to 44 hours a week.

Who looks after your child when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements? My sister takes the bulk of my childcare for me, dropping off and picking up from school and any overnight stays due to late opening times! She also stays with her dad too depending on when he is having contact around his working hours too. At the moment this arrangement suits me as I know she is being taken care of with family and she is happy with his too.

How old was your child when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work? I went straight back to work when my maternity finished when she was 7 months old. I had no issues settling back into work as it was just 16 hours a week back then.

Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why? Everyday! As she gets older I feel guiltier leaving her to go to work but I am lucky she does understand and hasn’t really known anything different. I think I just feel bad that I don’t have standard “9-5” working hours and my job requires me to work early mornings and late nights. I hate not taking and picking her up from school.

What’s your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare? I think a lot more needs to be done with regards to helping parents pay for childcare. The current rates are too high and most parents find they are working to pay for childcare even with tax credit help.

What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how? I have no social life! My blog and twitter are my social life as sad as that sounds It’s just the way it is. I sacrificed my social life to ease my guilt at having to have her stay with my sister while I work. I am still trying to achieve that perfect work/home balance especially as I am now going back to work full time! I am sure it will be a constant struggle for me that one!

Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again? Right now I am not dating. It took me nearly a year before I was ready to date again but only met one person. We were together for 6 months and she met and really liked him. I have been single now for over 2 years since him.

What tips do you have for other single parents wanting to meet someone? I’m not sure my track record is the best to be giving tips but I would say from personal experience (both me and her dad) try to avoid introducing them to your partner until you know it’s going to be a long term thing, especially if it is a recent break up. And have fun!

What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent? 1) Be open with your children, let them know you are there for them, to help them make sense of what has happened and adjust. 2) Never, no matter how much you really want to, bad mouth your ex to your children they’re your issues not theirs. 3) Be strong, yes it can be really difficult at times but you can do it. Use friends and family for support but never think that you can’t do it! I am and if I can do it anyone can!  

If you want to take part in Single Parent Spotlight or know someone that might, please contact me.Interviews are done via email and can be kept anonymous if preferred.Follow me on TwitterPinterest or Facebook.

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