Saturday, 14 March 2015

Single Parent Spotlight: Anneka Akhtar

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 fifteenth interviewee is 30-year-old Anneka Akhtar, an accounts manager from Hertfordshire who has one daughter aged 11 months.

Anneka and Ariana

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

My daughters biological father left us whilst I was 21 weeks pregnant.  He wasn't ready for the responsibility and left in a rather nasty way.

What things have you found hardest as a single parent? 

The hardest thing for me is the lack of sleep and frustration I feel at times when I feel like I need a break, I'm sure most single parents must have that moment when you feel like I've tried everything and you don't know what's wrong. I am lucky enough to have a very supportive mother who will take Ariana when I need  a break. Sometimes all I need is someone there so I can have a cup of tea in peace.

What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion? 

I think the benefits are that I am able to install the values I believe are important in my daughter without a partner disagreeing with me.

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 come from a very cultural Pakistani family who made me feel like it was my fault that my ex walked away from us. That was very hard to deal with, but after a fair few months of tears and lots of cake I came to the realisation that I won't allow anyone to make me feel bad because of his decisions. It has changed my relationship with certain members of my family and I don't think there is any going back from that. I haven't received any other judgements apart from that but it may be because I'm a little bit older, but I have noticed that when I mention I'm a single parent everyone seems to want to know exactly why!

What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child? 

We have no relationship at all.

How much contact did/does the father have? 


How does your child cope with contact?

Ariana is too young to understand the concept of a daddy but I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount? 

He did to begin with but decided to stop when his current girlfriend found out about Ariana.

What’s your job, and how many hours do you work per week? 

I work as an Accounts Manager for a small company and I work 16 hours a week.

Who looks after your child when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements? 

I have an amazing childminder and she works really well for my needs. She has welcomed Ariana in to her family and I know that my daughter is safe and happy where she is.  My childminder is also flexible to understands if I run late and if I need to change days at short notice.

How old were your child when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work? 

My daughter was 6 months when I went back to work and I was happy to get back into work life. Without sounding like an uncaring parent, I find that I am a better mother when I do go to work. I have more patience with Ariana and enjoy spending time with her now. Going to playgroups is now fun instead of a chore, as I get that break by working. One of my friends once said to me “it's difficult looking after someone who has no consideration for your feelings” and I find that statement so true.

Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why? 

I haven't felt guilty yet, I look forward to working. I am lucky to have a boss who understands my childcare situation and is flexible with me.

What’s your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare? 

The cost of childcare is high but I do get help with that, about 70%. However  I am finding it hard financially to go from a decent wage as a single person with no worry apart from which shoes to buy to a single parent who has had to take a big financial cut with more expenses . But I do think that Child/ Working Tax credits could be a little higher to help more. As a single parent the harder option is to work and I think that should be recognised.

What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how? 

Well I don't have much of a social life, I've been so exhausted getting back into the swing of working again that the last thing on my mind is having an active social life. I never stop when I'm at home-that's the only way I manage to get everything done. I'd say about 5% of my social life is without Ariana, I don't have the desire to go to clubs/ bars much anymore. I'd rather take Ariana out for the day, saying that the odd night out is always appreciated.

Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again? 

I am dating, it took me about 11 months from when I first became single. I don't know If I'm 100% ready but I found someone who makes me happy and who understands it will take me time to get there completely and is willing to wait.

What tips do you have for other single parents wanting to meet someone? 

I already knew the person I'm dating so I think my situation is different, but I would say that confidence is they key factor.

What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent?

I would say the most important thing is don't beat yourself up about your situation, you are likely doing the best you can. I found that I couldn't change my ex's decisions but I could move on and not let his choices define mine and Ariana's life. 

Secondly take some time out and enjoy your child/ren, if they are older and they understand what's going on it's hard for them too. They are probably just as upset, confused and hurt as you are and are looking to you to be strong. 

The final thing I will say it does get easier, I promise you. Take one day at a time and don't forget to treat yourself every now and again- I have a monthly birchbox and get my nails done. Makes me feel human and happier.

If you want to be interviewed for the next Single Parent Spotlight, contact me on the tab at the top of the page!

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  1. What a lovely interview - so pleased that things are working out for Anneka and Ariana :)

  2. Lovely and insightful interview, bravo to a hardworking mum. I hated the stigma of being a benefit mum and tried my hardest to get a job for so long. I work part time now and love it, but still get put in that single parent box, where I am even a scrounger for claiming working tax.. Its crazy.


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