Saturday, 11 April 2015

Single Parent Spotlight: Teresa Dearn

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 nineteenth interviewee is 40-year-old Teresa Dearn, an accounts administrator and financial accountant from Brighton and Hove who has one daughter aged six.

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

About 6 months old

What things have you found hardest as a single parent? 

Finding time to do things for my own sanity!  Being able to go out in the evening is a minefield.  My daughter doesn’t see her father so I don’t get every other weekend off as most of the other single parents I know do.  Trying to fit everything in and still be a good Mum.  Not having someone to take over when things get rough or you are having a tough day.  No back-up when you are ill.

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

The main benefit is that I don’t have to check with anyone else before making decisions on behalf of my daughter.  There are no favourites!  She cannot pitch one parent against the other in order to get what she wants.  If I say no, it means no and it stops there.

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?  

No.  I think the only time I have been faced with a stereotype is when someone assumed that I claimed benefits or tax credits or whatever the term is now.  I don’t and I think I made that pretty clear to them at the time J

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 any relationship with him for various reasons.  The best one being that I am keeping my daughter safe and without a bad influence.

How much contact does the father have?


How does your child/ren cope with contact? 

She doesn’t worry about it.  She occasionally mentions her Dad, but I tell her that he loves her very much but he is not in a position to see her right now.  It’s the best I can give her.

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

No, none.
Teresa and her daughter

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

I have 2 jobs working approximately 40 hours or more per week.  I work as an accounts administrator for one company and a financial accountant for the other. 

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

I have a great support network which I have worked hard at getting and keeping.  It’s the key ingredient to being able to raise my daughter.  She is at after school club 2 days a week, with a friend one day a week, my Mum picks her up another day and I pick her up from school on the remaining day.  I am incredibly lucky to have 2 very flexible jobs both with very understanding bosses.  My family and friends are the backbone of my life and I treasure them all.

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 5 months old when I returned to work.  It was hard at first.  I didn’t want to leave her, but at the same time I missed work.  Juggling work and being a Mum is tough.  It takes a great deal of organisation.

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

Of course.  I see other Mums who drop their kids off every day and pick them up every day.  They have time to do the homework with their kids.  I barely have time to feed, bath and put mine to bed most nights.  I wonder if I am doing the right thing, but it’s the only way I know how to do it and it’s the only way I can do it.  I have to provide for my daughter and myself single handedly.  I want my daughter to grow up knowing that working hard is important and be a good role model for her.  Our weekends are special and I try and make them as full as possible.  Have I got the balance right? Who knows?  Only time will tell.

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

Childcare is expensive when they are small and attending nursery.  A very large chunk of my salary was taken up with childcare when I returned to work.  During that time money was tight.  Babies are expensive anyway what with nappies, formula and all the other paraphernalia that goes with them.

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

Lol.  My social life has taken a back seat for the time being.  Babysitters are expensive.  Popping out for a drink with a friend is no longer an option.  However, as my daughter gets older I’m finding that we can do things together.  We recently started rock climbing and bouldering.  She is hopefully going to start a dance class soon which means I might get a couple of hours to myself on a Saturday.  Patience is required as a lone parent.  Freedom to be social again is not so very far away.

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

I have had a couple of dates in the last 5 years.  But when you can only get away once in a while, it tends to put a dampener on that sort of thing.  Besides I would have to give up doing something else in order to see them.  What would I give up?   The ironing?  Batch cooking?  Cleaning?  Gardening?  Working in the evening?  Tidying up after the ‘making’ sessions?  It’s like a house of cards.  Move one and the whole lot will inevitably crumble!

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

I’m afraid I don’t have any tips.  Be patient.  Hopefully fate will play a hand.

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

Get organised.  Get your support network in place.  Surround your child with people who will love them and people you trust implicitly.  Sorry but there is a forth.   Get healthy!  You are going to need all your strength and stamina!

 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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