Friday, 6 March 2015

Single Parent Spotlight: Kairen Varker

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 fourteenth interviewee is 43-year-old blogger Confessions of a Single Mum (aka Kairen Varker), a web developer and blogger from Cornwall who has two children aged 18 and 15.

Kairen Varker aka Confessions of a Single Mum

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

They were 5 and 2 when we separated and then divorced 2 years later. There was no sordid details just I was unhappy and knew staying in the marriage was the wrong thing all round.

What things have you found hardest as a single parent? 

The biggest is the money. People assume just because some single parents have gone to the press bragging how much money they get off the state etc that we all do, we don’t. The other would be all single parents being tarred with the same brush.

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

Probably the fact that when they are at mine it’s my way or no way. They can’t play one parent off on another. Plus there are no parents disagreeing on how things should be done. We have always insisted that when they at my house it’s my rules. When they're at Dads it's his rules and neither of us step on each other’s toes. We may not agree with each other’s rules but we do respect them.

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?

Lots. I have had comments that I must be rich as I am a single parent ( I’m not), that I must have taken my ex to the cleaners ( I didn’t’) and the best comment was that I was ‘one of them’. In the early years I would cower away and not defend myself. 9 years of single parenting and I challenge people’s views and stick up for myself.

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

It's ok, we're never going to be best friends but we're past the stabbing each other phase. We unite over children issues which is the main thing.

How much contact did/does the father have? 

A lot. They spend their time half and half and if its easier to stay at Dads or at mine for social things they do. There is no ‘its my weekend’ sort of stuff.

How does your children cope with contact? 

They have always been ‘free-range’ so there has never been an issues over contact.

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

Yes through CSA.

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

I am a web developer, a blogger and I work in the local corner shop p/t too. I use to work full time as a PA but had to go self-employed and change career when I was diagnosed with M.E. I need to work on my good days and have the flexibility to not work on my bad days.

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

They are now 18 and 15 so this is not an issue. I am either at home or across the road so never too far away.

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

My daughter was 3 weeks old when I first went back. I then stopped again when I had my son till I divorced and had to go back to work. He was about 3 then.

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

Not while I was working as I just had to work to feed us. Now I have been self-employed for over 5 years I wish I could turn back time and not have had to work.

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

I wouldn’t have survived without tax credits but the cost of childcare was crippling me too. They may pay towards childcare but when you work it all out you’re not any better off really.

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

This one is difficult for me as now I have to spend a lot more time at home for health reasons and social life is rather limited. When I was first divorced I was very lucky though as I had a lodger who was like a big brother and would always sit for me.

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

Yes I have been with my other half over 9 years. We haven’t moved in together and have no plans to either. I did start dating again quiet soon after separation but that was probably more loneliness then anything. It was a few years before I met my other half. 

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

Take time out to learn about yourself first.

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

It's natural to be scared and nervous - don’t be. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last single parent. Be proud of the daily things you are achieving. Be kind to yourself.

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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