Parenting can often be really challenging; even when both parents are living together! Nothing quite prepares you for being fully responsible for another living 'little person' and the roller-coaster of highs and lows. It's always rewarding overall and a blessing of course to have children; but let's be honest it's also really challenging and tough!
So now let's take it a step further. If you've never been a 'lone' parent, you would find it hard to fully appreciate just how hard it can actually be. To be the only adult in a household, fully responsible for the little people day and night (other than school hours for older children and any time with the absent parents); can feel like a really big deal.
There will always be people that judge eg. 'if you can't cope with the children then you shouldn't have them to begin with'.. but no one usually plans for or expects a relationship breakdown! There are also unexpected circumstances that happen, resulting in suddenly being left behind as the 'lone' parent, for whatever reason.
Being a 'lone' parent makes many aspects of parenting so much more overwhelming. If you have multiple children, getting them to school every day is even harder. There are all the little things to remember each day, different things to take in, changes to items to wear etc for each child, on different days. For example at the moment children must go in wearing PE kits on their particular PE day. Homework must be done and remembered, reading logs filled in and so on. You can also be asked for craft items from home, financial contributions and so on. Most parents of course feel this pressure, but it's somehow even harder when the sole responsibility falls on you and you usually don't have someone to then 'offload' to at the end of a tough day.
For example, being asked to make sure you read with your children every night sounds really lovely and a good idea.. but in reality it can sometimes just be too much pressure, especially if you have to log it too. 'Oh it's just 10 minutes' ....but with multiple children, a house to run, work or community responsibilities and all kinds of other obstacles and pressures, it can literally just push you to the limit. It's then even harder with sleep deprivation, which is obviously fairly frequent with young children around.
Morning routines, bedtimes, weekends and school holidays can be particularly difficult; as well as the current restrictions in place. If you have a local support network it can definitely help. This could be as simple as someone to help with the school runs if needed. However, not everyone even has this in place (especially when new to an area)! This is when it's important to look out for new arrivals to the local community and try to be aware if someone may not have family nearby and so on. Even a friendly smile or hello can go a really long way to help someone who is trying to stay strong (particularly without any support). Feeling lonely and isolated in your community will obviously just increase how tough 'lone' parenting feels for some.
It is very empowering to be a lone parent in many ways too. You can feel very proud to have achieved so much alone and sometimes even just to get through the day with all the essentials done, children fed, put to bed and so on. Ultimately though, you do really need a bit of support to get through everything effectively. Some form of 'back up' is definitely needed on certain days!
If you are lucky enough, the 'absent' parent will still have an amicable and active role in Co- parenting. However this is not always the case and even with that, it's very part time usually; so you have to manage on your own a great deal still. This is when a support network in your community is really valuable.
There is other support out there but it can be difficult to access or sometimes to even find out about. Home start is a great organisation with parents supporting parents and there are other local support organisations including some for families with special needs for example.
A new 'Gingerbread' group for single parent families is now launching in Sudbury. With the current situation it hasn't properly got going as such; but if any local lone parents are particularly in need of some support (or just a friendly chat with someone who fully understands); there is the possibility of a WhatsApp group for moral support or a regular virtual meeting in the meantime. There is a chat forum on the main Gingerbread website too, as well as wellbeing resources and other support.
Along with this, there is a new group for all Sudbury Mums on Facebook, with the facility to connect with local mentors if needed. You can make contact with the Sudbury Gingerbread group via the Gingerbread website or by emailing directly to: