Sunday, 9 November 2014

Single Parent Spotlight: Veronica Collins

The aim of these interviews is to show how AMAZING us working single parents are. 
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! 


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!

My eleventh interviewee is 32-year-old Veronica Collins, a kitchen designer from Devon, who has a sixteen-month-old daughter


single parent spotlight 11
Veronica & her gorgeous daughter

How old was your child when you became a single parent, and how did this come about? 
The relationship broke down in the run up to her birth, although we tried counselling etc. She was about 4 months old when we officially split. We separated as we had irreconcilable differences and I found the relationship to be very controlling. 

There were also a couple of instances of physical abuse. The father still wanted to continue the relationship for a long while, however I found it quite damaging to my mental health and well-being.

What things have you found hardest as a single parent?
The two biggest challenges I’ve faced as a single parent would definitely be managing my time and coming to terms with (and understanding and dealing with) my emotions.

When there are two partners actively involved in caring for a child, jobs can be divided meaning there is significantly less pressure. I found that I’ve learnt to micro-manage my time so that I am able to accomplish all the tasks required of a busy working single mum. 

Where my friends with children can concentrate on putting the little ones to bed whilst the other partner prepares dinner, all the same jobs have to be managed by one. For me, this is generally successful but only through having good routines, although in the event that my daughter is unwell or just difficult to get to sleep for example, then I may not get anything to eat until very late! 

There is no fall-back option if you are parenting alone. This is also very relevant when you run out of milk! All too often it’s easy to feel a bit like a prisoner in your own home as you cannot leave once your child has gone to sleep for the night, or during the day for a nap.

I have found that emotionally I often feel very resentful toward my daughter’s father as he is able to continue living his life as normal without the burden that having a young child can sometimes feel like. This is balanced by the knowledge that I definitely don’t want to be in any kind of relationship with him, however I still harbour concerns about him potentially wanting less to do with his daughter if he meets and settles down with someone else. 

I often feel sad that I can’t give my daughter the typical 2-parent household that we are all led to aspire to, and I know that if I could turn back time then I wouldn’t have made the same choice to have children with my ex-partner, however I feel an intense guilt for thinking this as I know this would mean I wouldn’t have had my daughter.

What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion?
For all the difficult times when you have to cope on your own, you also get to enjoy almost every precious moment with your child. You can be the sole decision maker for the majority of the time, and can work to your own schedule. I also think the bond between your child and you is stronger, as they spend most of their days solely in your company.

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 had any negative judgements or stereotypes directed at me that I can think of, however I am aware of many peoples negative perception to single parents, and so it has influenced me on some occasions. In these situations, I have found myself being reluctant to admit to being a single parent, or trying to avoid a conversation that would indicate my status.

What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child/ren?
My relationship with my ex is volatile but mostly amicable, if it is possible to be both! His attitude towards me depends on his relationship status, if he is seeing someone then he becomes more indifferent, if he is single then he tries to become more amenable and caring. I have some concerns for the future, only as I find hand-over situations with our daughter quite traumatic due to his temper and inconsistent personality. It can be challenging to remain calm sometimes but I know this is important for our daughters sake.

How much contact did/does the father have? 
He has her all day most Saturdays as I work, and he also has her overnight as often as he can and is prepared to, which is 2-3 times a month. He will often want to see her at short notice, which he cites as being a consequence of his job (Royal Marine)

How does your child/ren cope with contact?
My daughter is still quite young so doesn’t fully understand the situation, however she is very fond of her dad and so is happy in his care.

Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount?
He pays a set amount each month which was arranged when we split. It was from an existing arrangement for his living at my house, but was altered to contribute to our daughters care once he moved out.

What’s your job, and how many hours do you work per week?
I am a kitchen designer, and I work 3 days a week (23 hours)

Who looks after your child/ren when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements?
My daughter attends a nursery for 2 of the days I work, and her father has her for the 3rd day. I am very happy with the nursery I have chosen, she is very happy there and it is a great environment for her. She also seems to enjoy her day with her dad, although I often find the hand-over quite stressful because of his attitude.

How old were your child/ren when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work?
My daughter was about 10 months old when I first returned to work. At this point, my daughter was being looked after by a registered childminder who also happened to be my employer’s wife. This was a good arrangement at the time as if my daughter was finding it difficult being away from me (I was BF at the time) then I could return easily and my employer understood the situation.

Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why?
I’m not sure I have ever felt guilty as I want to be able to provide for my daughter, although I accept that I cannot cannot do this entirely without the help from the government.

What’s your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?
They enable me to manage my finances, and to provide a comfortable life for my daughter when combined with my income from work. The cost of childcare is extremely high in my opinion, although I can understand why this needs to be so as nurseries are highly regulated and aim to provide the best staff, which comes at a cost.

What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how?
I think I have found a reasonable balance with the different aspects of my life, through being able to work 3 days a week and through having the odd night without my daughter when she stays with her father. I have quite a small family and although they have on occasion been able to help with childcare, I feel it is difficult to ask as my mum is older and has not been in 100% good health, and my sister has family of her own. I have a small group of friends and am able to go out for an occasional night out which is nice to break the routine sometimes!

Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again?
I am looking on online dating sites, and have met a couple of different people for dates. I am yet to meet Mr Right though! I did not consider dating until fairly recently, and the catalyst was my ex telling me he had met someone. I was concerned about what his reaction would be if I had been the first one to say I was meeting other people, prior to this.

What tips do you have for other single parents wanting to meet someone?
To keep an open mind, and to make use of the many platforms that we now have available to us to find a potential partner.

What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent?
1) Combat your negative emotions; Instead of feeling resentful or lamenting the things that are missing from your life, channel that energy into improving your current situation and being the best parent you can be.

2) Find routines and practices that help save you time and work for you - time is very precious as a single parent!

3) Try to find employment as it serves as a welcome break from the world of dirty nappies, kids TV and endless washing baskets! It gives you an opportunity to be yourself and to focus your attention on something different, and it is rewarding to be able to spend your own earnings!

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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2 comments :

  1. Good interview. Thanks to Veronica for being so open and honest.

    ReplyDelete
  2. good to see lots of positives in this interview

    ReplyDelete

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