My tenth interviewee is 32-year-old Elizabeth, a childminder from Bristol, who has three children, sons aged 10 and 8, and daughter aged 5.
How old were your children when you became a single parent, and how did this come about? My children were 4 and 2 I was expecting my youngest when he left for the last time. The ex was violent and abusive and was expecting a baby with someone else just a few weeks behind me.
What things have you found hardest as a single parent? The time I've found most hard is when my oldest two do cubs, scouts and other groups- it's the late finishing as my 5 year old often needs to be in bed.
What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion? The best benefit to being a single parent is when at parent evening their teachers tells you how lovely they are and how well they are doing and how lovely confident caring children they are. They are that way because the way I have brought them up.
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 hate it when people think the children all have different dads- they don't.
What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child? I don't have contact with their dad. The only time there is contact is when he tries to cause problems.
How much contact does the father have? He hasn't seen the children in over 5 years. He has never met his youngest. My older two don't want to know him and my youngest has never asked to.
Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount? CSA forced him to pay for about 2 months taking it from his wages. He gets out of paying by moving about and changing his job, or working cash-in-hand.
What’s your job, and how many hours do you work per week? I work 32 hours a week as a childminder so I'm home with my children as and when needed. I use after school clubs once a week for my youngest so she gets sole attention on her as I'm still working I have to care for under 5's.
How old was your child when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work?I went back to work as a nursery nurse when my oldest was about 12 months old. It was hard as he either came to work with me or family had him. After my second child was born I become a childminder. When my third was born I had a year off from work.
Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why? Even though I am home with my children our home is my workplace, so my children come second in a lot of ways as I have to put my work first during my open hours. They can't have their toys out of their bedroom and they can't have friends over. They can't even watch TV as they like things for older children.
What’s your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?From working in Childcare I don't think it's too expensive. I charge £4.00 per hour most parents get so much paid for some up to 70 pence per pound. I have had a few parents claim Childcare part of tax credits and not pay their bill and I know of many other minders this has happened to as well. Myself and a lot of other childminders believe that the childcare part of tax credits Should be paid to the provider.
What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how?It's is hard to get a home/work life balance because our home is also work. I have just cut my hours down from 55 to 32 to try and make a better work/life balance. Social life-ha my children have more of a social like then I do. I've been out about 6 times in the last year.
Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again? Not dating yet as haven't got the time.
What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent? 1) The housework will wait another day so don't worry over it. 2) Go to toddler/play groups as you will meet other mums and make new friends.3) Don't look at others and feel they have this and that; Your own children will think you're amazing as you are with everything you do for them even if sometimes they don't show it.
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.