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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Single Parent Spotlight: Kelly

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 26th interviewee is 50-year-old Kelly, a childminder and baby-signer from East Sussex who has a 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.

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

They were 9 and 6. My ex husband decided that we mutually agreed to separate!

What things have you found hardest as a single parent?

The way my ex treats my kids.

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

No longer having to pretend that my ex was involved in bringing up the children.

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 think when I have it has been self imposed, once I got over feeling that I was a 'bad parent' for not working harder at staying together for the sake of the children, I realised that I was not being judged by any of the people that matter.

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

He no longer speaks to me because he claims I have anger issues. He is no longer allowed to come to the house after I called the police when he came into my house using threatening behaviour! He sends texts to arrange to see my daughter, but my son doesn't want to see him anymore.

How much contact does the father have?

He started by seeing both my children every Sunday, but he reduced that to three times a month after the first year, as he needed to have some time for himself and it was making it difficult for his relationship as he never had a whole weekend free. (Bless him!)

How do your children cope with contact?

As I said my son no longer sees him, the last time he did, my ex called me to go and collect him because he felt sick, my son overheard his dad say to his girlfriend 'don't worry I'm not letting him back in the car if he feels sick!'

My daughter does still go but she usually comes back upset and he often lets her down, twice this year he's not seen her for three weeks in a row, the only time I said I didn't want him to see her was mother's day, she was available all other Sundays.

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

Yes, but I did have to get child maintenance involved, so not by his choice!

Whats your job, and how many hours do you work per week?

I teach baby signing and childmind- 7 hours signing term time only, 10 childminding term time, and more in the holidays, plus paperwork for both.

Who looks after your children when youre working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements?

My children are at school when I teach and with me when I mind.

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

My children were 3 weeks and 6 weeks old when I went back to childminding as when you tell people to find alternative childcare for 6 months you lose them!

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

A little as although my children are with me when I am childminding, they have to share my attention and their toys!

Whats your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?

I receive Child/Working Tax Credits and I don't think we could survive without it, but the childcare part is not relevant to me so I haven't looked at it, I believe you need to be on a very low income to claim it though.

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

What's a social life???  I get to go out, in the evening about once a month, I do have lovely friends, but we tend to 'do lunch' so evenings can be quite lonely.  (So similar to when I was married but there was another adult in the house then).

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

Kind of! I went on my first date two years after my marriage broke up, we dated properly for a couple of months but he ended it, he still comes round with take away once or twice a week, but we don't go out any more.

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

I haven't got a clue, the man I spend time with I knew from 30 years ago!

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

Don't be hard on yourself, you and your kids will be fine.

Do ask for help when you need it, it only occurred to me last year that I am happy to help my friends when they need me and this actually works both ways.

Focus on what you have got, even if your ex is an arse, you did get the beautiful little people you love with all your heart out of the time with him.

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