40 Life Hacks for Single Mummy Life

Frippery Jar

I have been a single Mummy for eight years and loads of things have happened in that time. Some good things and some bad things.

I got divorced and I have fallen in and out of love (to) many times.

My children have grown into beautiful teenagers who are a joy and a challenge to live with.

I have had highs and lows in my career being made redundant 3 times and promoted twice.

I have struggled with my weight, losing 3 stone and gaining half of it back.

I have made friends, kept friends and unfortunately lost some friends.

I have also a started a couple of blogs and I am currently trying to make my writing hobby  a career.

I have also learnt a lot about myself about live, love and my career, so I thought I would take stock and share some of the lessons I have learned with you in the hope that it will help  you in some way.

So here goes

  1. Do not chase any man, the right man will find you, when you are ready
  2. If a man tells you something you don’t want to hear e.g. “I don’t want a relationship” listen and act accordingly (I have learnt this the hard way)
  3. Make time for your family they are a constant and will always be there for you
  4. Get some sleep, sometimes you will be so tired you will pray for unconsciousness
  5. Know where all your documents are driving licence, house insurance etc. you will never know where they are when you need them
  6. Don’t bad mouth you ex ( even when he has driven you to distraction ) to you kids, they are part of him and will see that as a criticism of themselves
  7. Find time to do something for yourself even if it’s watching Big Brother for  an hour, make this time sacred.
  8. Time is your precious resource use it well once it’s gone it gone
  9. Enjoy every moment of you kids childhood it goes so quickly
  10. Don’t be a slave to your job nobody lay on their deathbed and said “I wish I could have worked more”
  11. Take lots of photos of everything, your kids , your friends, everywhere you go and everything you do, its lovely looking back at good times
  12. Make memories with your children they will remember them with fondness as they grow up
  13. Have private jokes with your children,  catchphrases that only you know about, it will bond you as a family
  14. Take out one of those policies that covers the plumbing drains etc trust me  when you are ankle deep in sewage, they are worth there weight in gold
  15. When your kids tell you there dreams, encourage them  and support them 100% it motivates them to succeed
  16. Teach your children to cook as soon as they are old enough, this will help no end when you come home from work.
  17. Encourage your children to tidy up after themselves ( I didn’t) and it causes a lot of stress and arguments
  18. Save up and buy yourself something you don’t need. I put my spare change into a piggy bank I can’t open I call it my “Frippery Jar”
  19. At Christmas and Birthdays tell you kids how much you are going to spend and let them decide what they want within your budget
  20. If you have your own place keep it at all costs it’s your investment for the future.
  21. Make a will , if anything happens you would want to spare your children the worry of sorting out your estate when they are grieving
  22. Have a film that you watch when you are feeling down mine is “Moonstruck”  Cher is in it and it’s wonderful!
  23. Try and sort your child support payments amicably if that can’t be done work towards not needing them
  24. Know that your children love you unconditionally even when it feels that they don’t
  25. Be aware of your moods, and know you can sometime difficult to live with, my kids and I are slaves to my hormones.
  26. Say no to your kids sometimes. Practice it does get easier
  27. Beware of married men who want you to make them feel better about their lives don’t let it be at your cost
  28. Whatever you are aiming for you can get it,   be it  a job, a man, or a new skill it’s there for the taking. Go for it
  29. Look after your health, being sick as a single mummy is no fun, have a contingency plan for when you literally can’t get out of bed
  30. Watch or read the news every day you need to know what’s going on in the world ( and it helps with your general knowledge
  31. Laugh with someone everyday it keeps you young makes it all worth it
  32. Keep in touch with your friends their network of support is worth millions.
  33. Don’t be scared, you can do anything and achieve everything you set out to do.
  34. Have something to look forward to, it makes life easier when times are hard.
  35. Stay in touch with your friends who don’t have children be sensitive of their feelings and support there choices
  36. Don’t take work home, when you are at work, work hard, when you are home, be whatever you want to be
  37. Have some life insurance be reassured that your mortgage will be paid off. If the worst happens
  38. Make any tradesmen who come to your home  a cup of tea. They love it and it makes then nice to you
  39. Have one outfit that makes you feel really special, if you haven’t got one get one,
  40. Enjoy yourself  you are amazing , you only have one life so  live it, love it and laugh!

Did it help? Do you have any Life Hacks for single mums  ( and dads) you would be willing to share I would love to hear from you

Till the next time

Single mum Dawn

Single Mummy Life- Tackling the Man Drawer

 

Picture the scene- I was having some beds delivered for Teen Boy and Teen Girl and needed to dismantle their existing beds.

This proved to be perplexing job about which I have no clue. My ex used to do this sort of stuff, you know change lightbulbs blown fuses, put together flat pack furniture and deal with tradesman. He used to cut the grass, deal with plumbing and drains and manage the garage. This arrangement was fine until he left and then he wasn’t so keen on helping out.

My ex had assembled Teen girls bed and Teen boy’s had been put together by an ex-boyfriend, I remember both events happening while I was busy elsewhere (probably eating) and I also remembered something called an Allen key ( I had to google how to spell it) being mentioned and knew it might be useful.

I tasked a reluctant Teen Boy with dismantling the beds (he had never heard of an Allen key) so this is why I had to venture into the man drawer.

Michael McIntyre does a very funny sketch about the Man drawer which can be defined as the where men put miscellaneous stuff that might come in handy one day. To do things that men do.

This is where I have to come clean and say I haven’t ventured into the Man drawer since my ex left! It was his territory and his responsibility and as long as I stayed out of it meant that I didn’t have to deal with the stuff he used to do.

The reality of my single mummy life is that I have to pay people to do stuff my ex used to do, I am ashamed of this but it is true, there was man coming to put the beds together that evening so time was off the essence.

The Man drawer was so jam packed it took me several goes to get it open

Here is a list of some the delights I found in the man drawer

  • Batteries various sizes (could be alive could be dead no one knows)
  • At least 3 pedometers (unused) there could be more
  • Teen Girls 1st Holy Communion candle!
  • String (because you never know when you will need to tie something or someone up)
  • Masking Tape (for kidnapping?)
  • A very old mobile phone it’s a Motorola
  • A telephone charger (not for the same phone that would useful and therefore silly)
  • Screws and nails various sizes
  • A membership card for a club that has since burned down ( the club where we met)
  • Glycerine suppositories (!!!) the mind boggles and at some point bowels were loosened
  • A napkin holder
  • A pair of secateurs
  • A few euros
  • Radiator bleeding key that’s not long enough so therefore useless
  • Never sent birthday cards that might one day become useful (is anyone eight this year?)
  • Ink for a printer that we don’t have
  • Instruction manuals for long since discarded gardening appliances

The man drawer is like a memory of things I used to own, the things my ex-husband used to do for me and things we did together, it’s also an accusation about all the things I haven’t done for myself.

No Allen key!! I took everything out of the man drawer and put it into a box and decided that I was going to have a sort out.

The house is now in the kind of chaos that only comes when you are desperately trying to tidy up before someone comes round (the bed assembly man) and you want to prove to the world that your life isn’t a disorganised mess and you really have got your shit together but realise you really haven’t, I noticed that the house needs painting, we need new doors, new windows and I really need to sort out the garage.

I found the Allen Key eventually, Teen Boy did dismantle the beds (it took hours) and the new beds are now assembled (£ 25 well spent).

The house however is in disarray, it’s like an upended dolls house, and everything has fallen out. My task today is regain some kind of order. This may take some time. I will get there though.

The man drawer is no more- Long live the Single Mum drawer!

If I need a dead battery or an Allen Key I will know where to find it!

Letter to Teen Girl 2 : Reflections on applying to the BRIT School.

   
Dear Teen Girl

You have had a rollercoaster of a year!

You are an aspiring actress, you are really good with a lovely voice and excellent comic timing.  You showed promise at primary school and have been doing drama at the weekends for a few years,  you have  even been on the tele (House of Anubis Unlocked it was on Nickelodeon no one saw it) I was pleased and punch despite being unsure where that very posh voice you used came from.

You decided to apply to the theatre strand at The BRIT School in South London after watching one of those crappy reality shows (that we love) about life at a performing arts school.

I could write a book about the application process, there was an open evening, the highlight of which included me showing you up by lightly flirting with a very smiley Dad I thought l knew from work, only realising later it was the actor who plays Dr Sacha in Holby City! The shame! That’ll learn me to talk to smiley blokes who look vaguely familiar….

Anyway that was followed by a testing online application form, where you came up with meaningful answers (with no help from me) to questions such as….. What has been your best performance so far and why? Why do you think theatre is important?  You also had to present your year eight report which hadn’t been your finest hour frankly but we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

You got an interview. You  chose a brilliant  and brave audition piece about  a girl who had mental health problems, which I found very moving, followed by what I thought was a really  testing panel interview  (I have had easier interviews for senior positions) where they grilled you  on your  motivation, commitment, school work and attitude.

I was astounded at your composure and maturity, at thirteen I would have wilted under the pressure, the interview over, I knew you had done very well but had you done enough?

Eventually the letter came, it wasn’t the big fat envelope we had been hoping for, instead a note thanking you for applying, saying that you hadn’t been offered a place due to the high number of quality applications and you  that were on the reserve list.

A bittersweet outcome, you were good enough to get in but hadn’t got in, what were you supposed do with that?

You were so upset it was so difficult to watch, all that hard work had seemly come to nothing, there was a glimmer of hope though (the reserve list) but it appeared impossible.

The pushy parent in me found out how many people were on the waiting list (12!!).  It didn’t look good.  You thought it was highly unlikely that anyone would drop out. I did too, I decided kept my doubts to myself and cross my fingers.

We decided to chalk it up as a positive achievement and to concentrate on making the best of your current school.  You decided that you would apply again for the BRIT sixth form in two years  and we reminded ourselves about the successful actors who hadn’t gone to the BRIT School

Life went on, to my horror you lost interest in acting and most things, I wasn’t sure if it was being a teenager or depression, your dad got remarried and moved abroad, you had some problems with your health. You were very sad. I was really worried about you.

As the summer continued we both began to give up hope, you stopped asking if I had heard anything and I stopped mentioning it. It was easier.

Just before September I eventually rebought your whole school uniform, it cost a fortune (grrr) and you went back to school.

You seemed resigned, happier, and smiled more than you had in weeks.

You decided to go back to drama at the weekends, I was relieved, was the old Teen Girl coming back?

Then….

Just when we thought that we had got it sorted, life delivers something that is going to change your life forever…

I was lying in bed reflecting on how rubbish the last few months have been when I got a phone call.

It was the BRIT!!?

My heart was pounding had somebody dropped out?

“Would you like some good news”

“Yes”

“Would Teen Girl   still be interested in coming to the BRIT School?”

“YES”

“Could you come to the school now to sign the forms?”

“YES”

It  was like when Simon Cowell rings the Wild Card on the XFactor! I can honestly say I now know how they feel. Somewhere between heart attack and orgasm (not that you would know anything about that!).

I waited until you came home to tell you the news, understandably you reacted with a combination of shocked surprise and concern.

You are delighted but fearful, you worry that you won’t make friends and it will be like starting Year seven again.

Your lovely friends are pleased and proud for you but sad for themselves. A bit like myself… There was laughter and tears, something for everyone.

You start on Monday!

I need to tell you that you are amazing, you have worked so hard and overcome adversity in so many forms, I am delighted that your talent has been recognised and I am so proud of you.

The message I guess is never give up hope and believe, as you never know what’s around the corner

I believe dreams do come true and I believe in you

Lights Camera you’re on, Teen Girl, take a bow, your sparkling   future is ahead …Congratulations

Break a leg!

I Love You

Single Mum Dawn x

Letter to my Teenage Girl as Dad moves abroad

  

Teen Girl you have had a tough year, your favourite teacher who believed in you, motivated and inspired you died very suddenly. You didn’t get into the school that you dreamed would help you pursue your talent and vocation and now your Dad has remarried and is moving abroad.

You were only little when we divorced, I have often wondered  how much you remember,  I know that you have sometimes blamed yourself  for the divorce and some of the difficulties we have experienced since then  I want you to know that none of this is your fault and that we both love and are very proud of you.

I sometimes think the true cost of our divorce is only becoming apparent now as you move from being a tween to being a fully-fledged teenager about to start your GCSE’s.

  
Your sadness is palpable, you have lost confidence, some of your infectious joy, fearlessness and ability to engage with everything and everybody with a smile. You have however maintained your ability to see the best in everyone including inexplicably Katie Hopkins!

You worry about your weight and your looks. You are developing your own sense of style and opinions about the world. You are tentatively discovering boys.  There have been tantrums and tears, we have hurt each other with thoughtlessness and cruel words.  I feel that you direct some of your anger at me because I am here, I try to understand what you are going through (I do remember what it was like) although it is difficult to deal with sometimes.

Your pain about your dad leaving makes me sad, I sense your bewilderment, it echoes the sadness I feel about the relationship with my own father who also lives abroad now. A distant tense relationship with so much anger and hurt remaining unsaid. I don’t want that for you.

I worry who will be your  safe male role model, who you will be attracted to, what sort of relationships will be your normal? I hope your experiences do not mirror mine, I hope that I can support you to spare you that.

I will help you maintain your relationship with your father (you are the teen queen of social media and technology) and I hear you when say that’s not the same and not enough. I will be here for you when you are finding it hard. It won’t be the same as it was when he lived a mile away it will just be different

You have seen so much in your short life, illness, death of family member’s, difficult friendships, rejection, turbulent relationships and divorce.  I know ultimately these experiences will shape you and make you stronger. I know its difficult now though and far from the idyllic teen life we see on the TV.

You are smart funny talented and braver than you realise, you have always been a delight to be with. I want you to know that although you have had a lot of loss and disappointment this year and your world is changing fast there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  Hold onto to your dreams, I know that you will be a success in whatever you chose to do because you are amazing and my favourite girl in the world

Love your Single Mum Dawn

 12 years on -Memories of my Sister  Aspiration Inspiration, Motivation and Hope 

  
Bittersweet day for me today  as it is 12 years since my sister  Amanda died after having  breast cancer.

I remember the date of her birth very well  we were so excited, my brother and I had a  50p bet (big money those days) on whether we would have a new brother or a new sister …. I won (I always win) 

  
I was nearly a decade older than my sister, because of her I learned how to look after a baby,  a toddler and a little girl. I left home when she was nine as she grew up she became my best friend.

  
My  sister loved  playing music and was a talented singer.   She sang professionally in  choirs, bands, TV and with recording  artists, won  talent competitions and travelled the world. She used the talents that she was given to best effect. 

My sister was a single parent who had her daughter at 19, she was an inspirational single mother who worked hard to own her own home and started a career in social care to support her family while still pursuing her dreams in music. 

  
Her breast cancer diagnosis in October 2000 came as a shock , I am still shocked.  She was so young and the cancer was so aggressive. I am a nurse by trade and you see another side to the NHS when a family member is ill. The Macmillan and hospice nurses made me proud of my profession.

My sister was courageous  during  her illness. Postive , brave, never giving up hope,  despite her terminal prognosis , living  what remained of her life with courage and optimism which continues be an inspiration to me today

Amanda sadly passed away on the 24th of August 2003 at Hayward house Nottingham City hospital. She was 26yrs old. I miss her every day.

My memories of my sister are that she enjoyed every moment of her life and grabbed every opportunity it gave to her with both hands. 

  
She was ambitious and entrepreneurial and also generous kind and caring. She loved to travel and enjoyed new experiences. She worked hard and was able to buy a house in Beeston which she loved. She adored the latest fashions and never left the house without looking on point.

We liked to laugh together and we shared a  sense of the ridiculous a love of comedy and comedy clubs, she loved the Simpsons, Family Guy which are still going strong. She loved gadgets and reality shows.  She would have loved what they have done with Big Brother. 

She was the first person I knew to have a laptop. So I know that she would have been very into Facebook , Twitter,  X Factor and IPhones if she were with us today so my personal interest in those things is obviously on her behalf, well that’s what I tell people I believe it is what she would have wanted.

My sister. was a kind and honest person,  ( sometimes to the point of rudeness) a gifted singer and songwriter, choir director and leader, a loving daughter, mother and sister. She was a loyal and supportive friend. 

I know that my sisters death gave me the to leave my marriage , get divorced and pursue my dreams in the knowledge that life is short and that its best to do what you have to do and live you life with no regrets.

Twelve year.seems like a long time  yet not a day goes past without me thinking  of her. 

I remember  her  not with sadness but with love, admiration, affection and joy and give thanks for the gifts  she left to me , aspiration, inspiration, motivation and hope.

Till the next time 

D xx

Bonding with Teen Girl – Professional Photos or Holiday?

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We have have all been tempted by inexpensive sounding  professional photos sessions and for  £60  and free photo, what’s not to like? Well after spending a eye watering amount of money getting some lovely photos plenty let me tell you!
It was the day of the tube strike I went home a different way through Liverpool Street station because it was more direct with less chance of being caught out. I was hot tired and hungry never be hot tired and hungry when negotiating about money it will cost you a fortune, trust me.
I thought I would get a sandwich and was looking around for a shop to buy one, that was my first mistake  (don’t look around) second mistake was engaging with the young man who caught my eye ( don’t stop ever).  I am usually so good at dodging people with something to sell chuggers, Jehovah witnesses, anyone with a leaflet  I am highly skilled at  polite avoidance, hard wired by years of  avoiding eye contact while commuting in London.
Not on this day though ( I told you hungry hot and tired)  before you know it I have succumbed to flattery  ( third mistake) paid my money and booked a session.
I tell myself it will be a good bonding session with teen girl ,it will be good  for her confidence, I will set a limit I will be strong!!!
You can guess what happened next can’t you.
The day came  and I really wasn’t in the mood. I had promised myself I would be organised  that I would prepare the night before  but I didn’t and I spent the morning flinging clothes round the bedroom and ironing.T hey said we needed four outfits. I struggle finding one outfit ( I have an aversion to ironing) never mind four, plus Teen girl needed four as well, so cue  generational differences in taste and judgement to be  exposed and found wanting.
I got Teen girl  up two hours before we were due to leave, she  nonchalantly got ready at a leisurely pace like she had all the time in the world  which was infuriating. How long does it take to have  a shower and wash your hair for goodness sake. Too long in my view, so much for a cosy mum and daughter bonding session , time was tight and I was already fuming!
So after a tense start, we finally  got there just in time with me making  a mental note to self  to remember whenever I have to be somewhere with Teen Girl, add at least an hour  to save time and frustration.
The studio was lovely cool light and airy funky music  playing and beautiful people walking around looking impossibly cool. It looked expensive.  I am trying to set up a business as a freelance journalist and blogger,  so I am always thinking about costs and I  knew that this set up couldn’t be cheap.
We had our hair and make up done. Teen girl looked gorgeous with very little effort.  I needed a bit more work.   I had had some similar photos done 10 years ago and I couldn’t help thinking how much I’d aged.  I  have started. thinking that more and more recently it must be my mid life ex wife crisis.
The photographer was brilliant he made us laugh he didn’t judge our clothes , flattered our vanity and made us look and feel good.  It was professional as advertised. we had a fabulous time it was all I thought it would be  a confidence building  bonding experience mummy and daughter playing dress up.
The photos were amazing,  I wanted all of them but the cost was prohibitive, think a week abroad for a family of four or a really good second hand car.
We went from 90 photo to the 29 I couldn’t leave behind, I also had a fascinating conversation with the sales man  Aaron  about Apple Watches, the photography business, acting and music careers, plus marriage divorce and how ( and If)  it impacts on your life as a child ( we were all products of broken homes)
Thought provoking and unexpected
Needless to say I still can’t tell you how much I  paid  but let’s  just say I wont be going  for a mini break abroad ( which I could do with actually) and my credit card took  a hit!
Before anyone asks I did offer Teen Boy the chance to have his photo taken ( he was having none of it ) he liked the pictures though ( I didn’t dare  tell him  how much they cost!)
All in all it was a really positive experience me and Teen Girl spent the day together and got some cracking photos that we can use for business and personal purposes ( head shots websites  Christmas present etc.)
As for Teen Girl she now knows that  life is about choices  head shots or holiday?  I made her choose, cruel yes but  I have  to get those life lessons in there somewhere.
Would I do it again? Maybe… Teen Girl  and I have had a tough few months and it was great to share  a lovely day that we will never forget, we made some  good memories and laughed a lot which is all  ever want to do with kids.
I have to say though  the next time a handsome young man approaches offering  me professional photo session for £60. I will smile politely say no thank you  hold onto my purse and keep moving.
Till the next time D xx
Have you ever done one of this  photo sessions? Did you pay more than expected or did you stay strong?
I would love to hear about it (it will make me feel better)

New Life, New Wife – My ex got remarried. Am I bothered no..? Did it rock me…? Yes!

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My Ex husband got remarried a couple of weeks ago

Was I bothered no… did it rock me yes

I got divorced 8 years ago after a difficult marriage which probably should have ended a long time before it did

My ex was hurt so it wasn’t amicable and he moved about a mile away from our house and maintained his relationship with the kids up, they stayed with him every other weekend and on Tuesdays. This continued until he met the lady who know is his wife and deteriorated further when they had a child together.

There has been lots of “renegotiating” of the boundaries and expectations of blended families so to say I had mixed feelings when I heard about their impending wedding and planned move to the Middle East is a bit of an understatement.

It was weird making sure they had smart clothes to wear so that they didn’t shame me, teen boy went with his girlfriend and teen girl invited a friend from school. They looked lovely and I took lots of photo’s (weird), the allotted hour came and kids being the lazy things they are asked me for a lift.

It was a beautiful sunny day, I couldn’t help but think of my own wedding day it had been muggy and hot, and there had been a thunderstorms the night before, maybe that was a sign.

We arrived, the first person I saw was my brother in law, he had been the best man at our wedding, he seemed pleased to see me and so did his wife, it was great to see them despite the bizarre circumstances.

I saw my ex…. he wasn’t pleased to see me… I don’t suppose I can blame him. I think the bride was due any second.  So I made my excuses and quickly left with a lump in my throat mixed thoughts running through my head. One of them being why wasn’t I the one getting remarried. I had always intended to get married again and have another baby,things didn’t work out that way.. was it too late?

What did I do with myself, I went on a shopping spree and I ate doughnuts.   I spent the day with a friend who made lots of tea, fed me and let me binge watch loads of television. It’s what I needed.

Apparently the day was a huge success, I was desperate to hear all the details, who came,what did they look like, had they been guests at my wedding? The photos were great. Teen boy made a speech that made everyone cry,the photos were great and a good time was had by all.

Me, I was shocked by the feelings that my ex’s wedding invoked in me, the regret sadness the emotions of loss and bereavement.

I was determined not to cry- and didn’t for 3 days  but when it came it was heartbreaking  and desolate.

I am writing this not as a woe is me piece but as a reflection that in spite of the passage of time and new partners coming and going (in my case), It is always a shock when your ex-spouse moves on to a new life with a new wife.  It leaves you wondering where you are in your life, considering why your relationship ended in the first place and if you did the right thing. I have to admit lots of strange feelings played on my mind for a while.

On the positive side though I also felt it was time to move on, a time for new beginnings, a time to review my life and career,   decide what I want and go forward. I  have decided to start a blog, to do something different something for me.

Now that one door  is now firmly closed  there are lots of windows open – the future is mine and my children’s and its  looking bright.

Till the next time

Dawn  x