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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Single Parent Spotlight: Catherine Owens

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 24th interviewee is 35-year-old Catherine Owens, a librarian from East Ayrshire who has a 19-month-old daughter.

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

I was only 20 weeks pregnant and my ex decided he didn’t want to be a dad or have anything to do with me so changed the locks and made me homeless

What things have you found hardest as a single parent? 

Making decisions, the big ones. 

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

No arguments with anyone, not having to take anyone else's parenting styles into consideration.  Being able to be the mum I want to be. 

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’ve not really, but then I tend to stick to being in my own circle of support.  I felt really bad and downtrodden when I had to go to the housing department and discuss my housing situation when I was faced with homelessness when my baby was 8 months old.  All emotion or understanding was removed in the interview and I was simply a name on a form with points awarded/deducted. 

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

I have no relationship whatsoever with my ex.  I have no seen him or had any form of communication with him since he threw me out. 

How much contact did/does the father have? 

None- he has never seen her.

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

He does and it was all organised via the CSA

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

I am a school librarian and work 35 hours per week.

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

She goes to a private nursery when I am working.  It was the only option available to me really as all childminders were booked and I don’t have family that could take her.  It is very expensive but then I doubt I could put a price on someone replacing me during the day.  I get help with the cost of childcare and I couldn’t work if I didn’t.

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

She was 11 months old and I found it okay actually. She settled into nursery really easily.

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

Not really as I don’t think about it that way.  I make the most of time with her.  I do feel guilty having time to myself at weekend sometimes when she is looked after by my parents or family. 

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

I do not understand tax credits at all or how they are worked out but I need them in order to work.

Catherine and her daughter

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

I spend all the time between getting home and bedtime with my daughter and then relax once she is in bed.  I suffer with stressing out about housework/ironing.  I try not to have too many nights out, mainly as I can’t afford it and also as I miss her. 

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

Nope – not ready

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

Don’t let things build up to the point the stress you out. Talk to someone or if its something practical either ask for help or if you can pay to get it done.  I paid for someone to do ironing once as it was really getting me down.  

Build up a good relationship with your health visiting team, I wouldn’t have coped without their support when my baby was only months old, just chatting to someone who wasn’t family really let me offload the weight of responsibility I felt.  

Get out and about if you are at home all day.  Join groups, any groups,  Classes if you can afford them or if not go to mother and toddler groups.  Even if you go round them all and get to one a day, it gives you reason to get up and out, entertains your child and allows some face to face adult chat time, plus it means you then have a network of friend to keep in touch with once you start working. 

Plan, be organised.  I don’t go to bed unless bags are ready for the next day, dishes are all done and place is tidy.  I plan meals ahead and batch cook then freeze individual portions.   

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. Hi, thanks for hosting these interviews with single mums. I am a newly single Mum and I really enjoy reading them. X

  2. Really good Reading. Some really good ideas


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