Pregnant & alone.

Sometimes, I really miss my bump. I'm sure that anyone who has had a baby has been there; Occasionally I reminisce on the magical experience of having a baby growing and developing inside my body; the sheer excitement and the waiting in anticipation to finally, at the end of those 40 weeks, meet the person I would love most in the world.

But then, reality comes knocking on my door and I remember the pregnancy which turned out to be the hardest nine months of my life; the pregnancy during which I couldn't wait to reach the finish line.

There's no denying it; pregnancy is hard work.

But what's it like to face nine months of pregnancy without a partner by your side?

Well, I've been there, done it and got the baby to show for it! So, here's a list of the things I found particularly testing whilst being single and pregnant :

1) Announcing the news!
I waited a while before I told anyone about the pregnancy. A few close friends and family members knew from the start but my colleagues and other friends hadn't a clue. So, when I reached 12 weeks of pregnancy, I felt it was time to share the news. After all, I couldn't hide it for too much longer- I was unwell and people from work were starting to wonder what all of those doctors appointments were about. Due to the circumstances and the fact that it was an unplanned pregnancy, I hadn't spent weeks on Pinterest scrolling through "cute ways to announce a pregnancy on social media." Instead, to a certain degree, I dreaded sharing my news. By the time I did share it, my baby's father had already upped and left so, I was already a single parent before people even knew I was pregnant. How was I supposed to announce this one? I knew, before I had even told anyone, what their first thought was going to be. "Where's the dad?" 
I went with the standard routine of uploading my scan photo to social media and awaited a reaction. The notifications rolled in; the likes; the comments; followed by one comment which read "Who's the dad then?"
This was so disheartening and such an awkward comment to have to reply to; so I simply ignored it and focused on the many "congratulations!" messages I had also received. I wish I could've tagged the father of my child in my "I'm expecting" post on social media, but unfortunately, he'd already blocked me and moved away.

2) Sickness
My son's father left almost overnight upon receiving the news that I was pregnant. So, it was just me and bump from roughly 6 weeks into my pregnancy. Coincidentally, this was the point at which the sickness kicked in for me. Up until that point I'd been much like my normal self- albeit a little more tired than I'd normally be, but I was coping.
I can remember sitting in my lounge one afternoon and suddenly feeling really queasy..and before I knew it, I'd been sick. Totally normal and very common in early pregnancy, but little did I know- I was about to become a statistic. I was a part of that 1% of women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum in simple terms is : severe, persistent vomiting during pregnancy. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Just a bad case of morning sickness, right? Wrong. From the very first time I was sick, I never stopped being sick. Some days, I vomited all day long. Some days a tiny sip of water would bring it on and I'd be sick 8 times just from that one sip of water. At times, I couldn't keep anything down, and I mean anything. But one of the biggest triggers of pregnancy sickness is having an empty stomach- so it was a vicious cycle as the more I was sick, the less I had in my stomach which would then make me sick again. I found myself lying on the bathroom floor crying because I was so tired of being sick and feeling so unwell. In fact, on bad days, I was scared to leave the house because I couldn't be sure when it might flare up; it would come on so suddenly that I never had much warning or much of a chance to find a restroom.
Somehow (and I really don't know how) I managed to carry on working for a while. It seemed to help being with customers every day; it was a distraction. But I'll never forget the embarrassment of having to stop a customer half way through their query and run through the staff room to go and be sick. This happened more than a few times and I hated feeling so out of control. The sickness pretty much ruled my life throughout pregnancy and it lasted right up until the day my baby was born.
Sometimes, I just wanted someone to look after me; to bring me drinks and snacks in bed and do the household chores for me. On several occasions, simply opening the fridge door would make me sick. The thought of cooking turned my stomach but I knew I had to eat in order to keep the baby safe and healthy. Facing HG is hard enough as it is, but without consistent support it can be incredibly testing. To the point where you have to remind yourself why you're putting yourself through all of this illness and you have to convince yourself that the prize at the end of it is worth it. (And of course, it is!)

3) The scans
The 12 week scan: the first time you get to experience the funny cold jelly being moved around on your tummy like you'd seen in the films, and in exchange receiving a clear image of your baby on a screen in front of you. The first time you ever "see" your baby. A fascinating and surreal experience, one which should fill you with love and excitement. Of course, it did- but sadly, it was tainted. It was tainted by the fact that I was the only woman in that hospital waiting room without a partner sat next to me. I took my sister with me, but of course- it wasn't the same. My excitement was toned down by the fact that I wasn't sharing the breath taking, exciting moment of watching my baby wriggle around in front of my eyes for the first time, with the only other person who this baby belonged to.
"How many sets of photos would you like?" Well, there wasn't a need for a second set of scan photographs since I knew my baby's father wouldn't want to see them, so I settled for one.
This was the day it all became real, my baby was right there in front of me and although I couldn't touch him or see what he looked like, his little silhouette made it all that much more real. There was a baby inside me and he was healthy and I couldn't wait to tell everyone! Except, the only person I really wanted to speak to was the one person who didn't want to know. He was the only person who didn't text me that day to say that he was thinking of me or to wish me luck.
Then there was the 20 week scan; the big day! The day I got to find out whether I was having a boy or a girl. For whatever reason, and I can't explain it, I knew from the start that I was having a boy. I just felt it. I had pictured him long before my first scan, even. I had pictured him as a miniature version of his father; blonde curly hair and blue eyes. This day, my premonition was confirmed. "It's a little boy!" The four words which changed my life.
I was going to be a mother to a little boy and I couldn't have been happier but...all I could think about was this little boy who might resemble the man who left us. What if he looked exactly like him? What if all I could see was his dad when I looked at him for the first time? And of course, my mind questioned: Wouldn't this little boy need his dad?

4) Getting prepared
One of my clearest memories of my pregnancy was the day the cot arrived. In about 5,000 pieces. Shit...well how am I supposed to build this thing? This is a "man's job" surely?
I was heavily pregnant, hot, flustered and nauseous but I hadn't much choice; I either put this thing together or I left it to sit in the box for months on end. So, I built it alone. It even said on the instructions that it was a two-man job but, miraculously, I did it. And I almost killed myself in the process, but I was a woman on a mission! I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself, until my son reached 6 months of age and I realised I'd actually built it wrong and hadn't yet noticed in all that time. Oh well.
Like most mums-to-be, I had a clear image in my mind of how I wanted my son's nursery to look; the style of furniture, the toys, the bedding, the colour I would paint the walls....wait....painting walls?! 
Again, this was where I missed having a boyfriend who could take on the 'manly' tasks of decorating and DIY. The things I would've struggled with at the best of times, and even more so whilst I was growing a human.
It was hard doing everything myself (though my family were super helpful) and it wasn't as fun as it might've been with someone by my side; someone to argue with about the colour schemes and go shopping with for cute nursery accessories.
In fact, not just nursery accessories, but everything. Baby clothes shopping had to be the most exciting part of my pregnancy; I'm a sucker for cute fabrics and miniature hats. 
Although I spent many a Saturday browsing Baby Gap with my lovely friends, I definitely missed the special shopping trips with "dad-to-be." Of course, my friends were over the moon with excitement and, the fact that I was one of the first of my friends to expect a baby, meant that they were all for giving up their weekends to shop around for cute baby accessories. But it wasn't the same.

5) The 'firsts'
At first, you feel a flutter in your tummy- much like the feeling of "butterflies" you get when you're nervous-excited, and then you feel it...KICK! 
The baby is kicking!! Oh my god! What an exciting moment. If seeing a grainy image of your baby on an ultrasound screen doesn't make it real enough, then this sure will!
The feeling of another human being moving around inside you. The repetitive kicks, the hiccups, and as the baby gets bigger; actually being able to see a limb or two as you watch your belly shifting. Normally, the minute you feel your baby's movements, you call for your significant other to come and rest his hand on your belly and you insist he stays completely still and doesn't move until he's felt it. You see his face drop and you know he felt it. Hes freaked out but he's amazed and he's excited. 
Well, actually..the first person to ever feel my baby kick was one of my oldest friends from school. He placed his hand on my tummy and although he found it fascinating and exciting, he wasn't connected to the baby. For some crazy reason, I even felt guilty that the first man to feel my baby's kicks was not the father of my baby. Though he is a dear friend of mine, nobody could have replaced the father of my baby at this moment.
"The sound of galloping horses"...this is the only way I am able to describe the sound of my baby's heartbeat on the monitor. Hearing it for the first time was amazing; It was so much faster than the beating of an adult heart. It was a unique sound; a sound I will always be able to recall in my mind.
It was such a relief to hear my baby's heart beating for the first time- especially since I'd suffered from all of the sickness, at times I worried my baby might not be ok in there. So, it was a reassurance and it was a special moment which sadly, once again, I experienced alone.

6) Adapting to a new life
That one word was to change my life forever. Upon finding out I was expecting, I saw my body change quickly and I witnessed my hormones fly all over the shop, but when did my life really change? When did I become a different version of myself? 
I remember it clearly. I was out for drinks (juice, for me- obviously), for a colleagues leaving do and, in previous times, I would've relished the idea of a night out with my work buddies; I would've drank my body weight in alcohol and partied on through the night without a care in the world. This time, it was of course very different. I arrived at the pub with my big round belly and for the first time ever, I felt out of place. I felt like everybody was staring at me; judging me for even stepping foot in a pub. I was convinced that every single person in that place was thinking: "What's a pregnant girl doing here? Go home!"
I was so self conscious and I was afraid; afraid that some drunk person might knock into me or fall onto me and harm my baby. I held onto my bump all evening for fear that an intoxicated stranger might touch it. I cringed at the loud music, worried that the high volume might damage my baby's tiny, undeveloped ears.
So, I left early and I walked myself home. Six months pregnant and walking home alone in the dark; quite possibly the moment in which I felt the most alone. As I waddled past groups of wasted teens and women falling around in their high heels, I suddenly felt like an outsider to the life I had always known. I had always adored the nightlife within my vibrant city. I came home and I went straight into my baby's unfinished nursery, and I cried. I cried because I felt like a different person to who I'd always been. I felt vulnerable and I felt the weight of the responsibility I was about to experience. I wanted to protect this little baby from everything bad in the world and I was afraid I couldn't do it alone. Up until this point, I hadn't felt bonded to my baby since it was hard to register that this bump would soon become a baby, but in this moment I knew I couldn't live without him and I hadn't even met him yet. I felt my whole mind change; my priorities had shifted, my life was taking a complete turn and it was changing before my eyes, but I was having to adapt alone.
I often wonder what it would've been like to prepare for such a massive, life altering experience with someone else. Two first- time parents facing the changes together.

7) The build up to the due date
As I neared the end of my pregnancy, I became increasingly impatient and unbelievably excited about meeting my little bundle. I couldn't wait to see what he looked like, I couldn't wait to stop being sick and I couldn't wait to start being a mum! But, with the excitement came the anxiety. As the days crept by and December 5th was well in sight, I panicked. December 5th was the baby's due date and I wondered whether his father might show his face around this time. What if he turned up? What if he contacted me? I was heavily pregnant and massively hormonal; I wasn't sure I could deal with the emotional stress of him making a sudden, unexpected appearance but the other part of me hoped and prayed that he would be there after all.
I carried on and my excitement grew and grew as my due date passed and my baby still hadn't arrived. "Any day now!" I kept hearing. "You might have a baby by tomorrow!" they said. What an incredibly exciting thought. I kept looking at the empty buggy and I wanted so desperately to take it out for a spin, but I knew that without a baby in it, I'd just look like a total nutter! Sadly, my excitement was accompanied by the looming sadness and frustration I felt due to the choice my baby's father had made. I even felt guilty, to some extent. I felt like I shouldn't have been excited about something which he was so far from excited about. I questioned whether it was wrong or selfish of me to be happy when the circumstances were so far from perfect.

Relationships post-baby.

As if dating and finding "the one" wasn't sufficiently complicated and exhausting enough before having a child-  it just got a whole lot more complicated. Now, there's a hell of a lot more to consider. 

When you're a single parent dating, you're pretty much dating for two. You're no longer simply considering someone as a partner, but you're judging whether they could be a part of your ready-made family, too. Does this person seem like the right one for me AND my child? What if I think they're perfect for me but a million miles away from who I would want for my child? 

Lets face it, things everything changes when you become a parent and every choice you make from thereon, is a choice you make for both yourself and your child. Nothing is just about you anymore. 

Fellow single parents: regardless of your circumstances; no matter how you ended up parenting solo; whether it was by choice or it was a situation forced upon you as mine was- I am sure you have, at some point, at least thought about the possibility of future relationships and asked yourself the question:

 Will anyone ever be good enough for my child?

Past relationships and romantic encounters have taught me a lot about myself and a hell of a lot about others. With every failed relationship and heartache, a lesson has been learnt. Each time I found myself 'single' I found another piece of myself. Every person from my past has helped me to figure out who I am and what I will and won't put up with.

From previous experiences-both good and bad, I have made a mental note-to-self of all of the things I know I never want to see in a partner again. Instead of the things I might "look for" in a person, it's much more a case of "the things I wish to avoid." The personality traits, the lifestyles, the attitudes and the patterns I have seen over and over again, none of which I wish to encounter in the future. I sure know what I don't want.

But what do I want?

Hmmm, well I wouldn't say I'm fussy, but after putting up with far too much crap - I now refuse to settle for anything less than what I know I deserve. And of course, what my son deserves. 

And,since I'm a mum now- I have one HUGE requirement; one standard that I will, by no means, back down on.

This is one thing, at the very top of my list, that I absolutely require from a potential partner and I won't budge on it, not even for the likes of Ryan Gosling...though I'd be tempted.
Could you blame me?

They have to be right for my son.

Dating, as a mum, is nothing like dating as my previous self; the independent woman with little- to no responsibility. Now, not only am I sussing someone out for myself and doing the usual "Can I see myself getting along with this person? Do we have much in common? Does he make me laugh? " etc etc, but I'm also sussing him out for my son, too. "Could I see him with my son? Would my son like him? Would he make a good role model? Could he handle the responsibility?" 

The list of questions goes on.

Not only are there a thousand extra qualities to look for in a partner when you have little people to bear in mind, but also, once you think you've found "the one" you then have to give a hell of a lot more to the relationship than you might have done before becoming 'mum.' Relationships take energy and emotion. Neither of which I seem to have spare these days.

Personally, I've found that juggling the never ending list of motherly duties, having some well needed me-time, looking after myself, my son, my home, the bills and the chores whilst tackling the big fat parental decisions alone and battling against the sleepless nights- I don't actually have the time for another person. And definitely not for the initial dating stage. I mean, it's EFFORT to so much as even get a babysitter! Let alone find something to wear. Click here if you want to read about, and mock me for my failed attempt at a first date since birthing a human.

There just aren't enough hours in the day and it's seemingly impossible to fit another person into our daily routine. For starters: I wake up at 4am and go to bed by about 8/9pm. Etienne is awake for approximately 14 of those 17 hours. Where am I supposed to fit "couples time" into that? And it doesn't stop there...I'm not even sure I have the emotional capacity to love another right now when the person taking up every inch of my heart is my son. Yes, it' a different kind of love completely, but I spend so much of my time captivated and distracted by the love I have for my son, I am unable to make someone else a priority. I have grown used to life as a single parent and, I'm cool with it. 

That said, I had actually entered into one relationship since having Etienne and I let that person into his life quite intensely- only to find that said person was in no way right for either of us. He was detrimental to my emotional well-being and in turn, affected my abilities as a mother. Hence, he was no good for us. I often wonder whether I might have stayed and put up with it if I didn't have Etienne to think about. Who knows, but my responsibilities as a mother are inclusive of making sure that my son is flourishing in a happy, healthy home- and that relationship just didn't allow for that. 

It goes without saying that my little boy is the most important person to have ever entered my life, and always will be. So, with that in mind, I ask myself, will anyone ever be good enough? Will I ever accept someone to play that vital role in my sons life? Since his biological father isn't in his life, anyone who is going to fill that "void" is going to need to be extra special.

Not too much to ask, is it? 

Well, actually, I think it might be.

It's a lot to ask and it is exactly why I'm OK with staying single for the foreseeable future. It allows for so much quality time with my most precious person and it enables me to work on myself in order to attract the right type of person, because- so far- I seem to have attracted the total opposite. I am sure the day will come when I will settle down, but only for the right one. The old me would've dated for the sake of dating. The current me will happily remain single for as long as it takes to meet someone who is worth the energy; someone who actually compliments my life and my son's.

 If not, then what's the point?

If toys had feelings.

Everyone; Meet Panda! 

This panda belongs to my little boy, and his name is...Panda (original, I know.) 

I first saw Panda when he was sat on a shelf in Oxfam and I was looking for some cuddly toys for our book corner. I noticed he was a Jellycat toy (if you've got kids then you will know that Jellycat is like the Chanel of cuddly toys- £££!!) so, I picked him up and when I noticed how soft and lovely he was, I paid for him and took him home to my son. 

Well, the bond between them was almost instant. Etienne took a real strong liking to Panda and pretty much discarded every other cuddly toy in the house. I don't know why, but I believe it had something to do with the fact that babies respond well to light and dark contrasting colours, as they captivate and hold the baby's attention better than less striking colour contrasts. There has been lots of research into this and here's the general understanding:

"An adult retina can distinguish many different shades of light and color, but a newborn retina can only detect large contrasts between light and dark, or black and white.Research has proven that black and white contrasts register powerfully on baby’s retina and send the strongest visual signals to baby’s brain. Stronger signals mean more brain growth and faster visual development. Surround a baby with soft pastel colors, and you might as well be blindfolding him. Surround your baby with black and white or light and dark pictures, and watch your baby’s eyes light up."

So, with Panda being black and white, I guess Etienne's instant fascination and love of him supports this research! Interesting, isn't it? Well, I thought so, anyway!

So, since day 1, their bond has been..well....beautiful. I don't know how else to put it, but if you're a parent of a child who has a comforter, you will just get it.

They are the best of friends. Panda is Etienne's biggest comfort, he is his go-to when he is sad, tired, or hurt. He takes him absolutely everywhere. They are totally inseparable and, along the way, I've grown hugely attached to Panda,too. Honestly, I'm 25 years old and I live in fear of losing a black and white cuddly toy. What is that all about? We once lost him, whilst on holiday in Cornwall, and I (alongside Etienne and the rest of my family members) had REAL tears in my eyes. I'm not even kidding. Thankfully, we quickly found him again but it felt like I had lost my child. It was a few minutes of utter PANIC.  

[[The day Panda got left in a shop doorway in the rain. Sad, sad times!]]

A thought which crosses my mind daily is:
"What the hell would I ever do if we properly lost Panda?"

Anyway, whilst watching Toy Story the other day with Etienne (we've all seen Toy Story, right? If not, I suggest you leave right away and watch it because you cannot go through life without having seen it- it is, quite possibly, the greatest animation of all time) I suddenly thought to myself:

 "what if toys really do have feelings?"

And with that thought, I saw Panda. 

Now, Panda is CLEARLY well loved. He is so well loved in fact, that he has lost most of the stuffing from his neck area because he has been hugged so tightly by Etienne. He has barely had a wash, because I cannot find even five minutes when he is not by Etienne's side and.....once, Etienne saw Panda going round and round in the washing machine and he was traumatized so, I wouldn't like to mentally scar him for life. Hence why, understandably, he smells pretty bad but, to Etienne; he's perfect! 

 If Panda has feelings then I am sure that he feels very loved and cared for but...what the hell else must he be thinking?! I hate to think, since he is also Etienne's "stress ball" when he is angry or having one of his two year old meltdowns. When things don't quite go his way; Panda gets it! Much like how a husband tends to be on the receiving end of his wife's angry outbursts, I suppose. It's true that we take our anger out on those who are closest to us and for Etienne; that person is definitely Panda.

So, for your entertainment, and whilst feeling terribly sorry for Panda in many ways I've put myself in his shoes for a moment and I've compiled a list of thoughts he might have throughout a typical day with Etienne:

1) OUCH! Hug me, but not like that. That hurts.

2)God, I smell. Why won't they wash me??? It's been about 6 months since my last bath.This is neglect, where the hell is social services when you need them?!

3) What the F is that on my leg? Spag bol? Brilliant.

4)These people are stupid, of course I don't eat Cheerios! Who do they think I am?

5) Wish he would stop blaming me for having a ''stinky bum'' when everyone knows it's his nappy that needs seeing to!

6)STOP shoving your plastic play food in my mouth, I only eat bamboo! Don't you people know anything about my species?

7) Uh oh, I'm in trouble!

8)WOAH, he's launched me across the room again- what did I do this time?! 

9) I think I might be suffering from concussion.

10) I wish he'd stop taking his frustration out on me, all I ever did was sit here all cute and cuddly.

11) ANNNNDDDDD I'm hanging out the buggy again, is anyone gonna notice before I land in yet another puddle??? OR WORSE.

12) Yes, random old lady in Tesco- I am a nice Panda! What do you mean I am looking "well loved"? Is that another way of saying I look old and haggard?? Well, as it happens- you're not looking so youthful yourself!

13) WHAT are you doing?? No, no, not the talc again! Great, covered in baby powder and STILL not offered a bath. Hospitality sucks around here.

14) NO PANDA DOES NOT WANT SOME MILK. Oh god someone save me!

15) Am I famous? Why does everyone ask about me?! Who are these looneys?

16) JEEZ, you humans really are dopey. If I'm such a "stinky Panda" then WASH ME, like I've asked!

17)PLEASE.STOP. BITING .MY .NOSE. How would you like it if I bit yours?!

18) What's with the tail flicking, kid? I get that it brings you comfort but I'm a little worried my tail might fall off at this rate and...I kinda need it!

19)Oh, so you're tired now- does that mean you'll stop flinging me around? I feel a bit sea sick.

20)Ahhh, that's better- a nice cuddle. Oh NO, he's dribbling again. CAN SOMEONE GET THIS CHILD A BIB???

21) A little more room in the bed would be nice, and I'd rather not be used as a pillow.

22) Oh god. Can't breathe! Somebody? Anybody? I CANT BREATHE UNDER HERE

23) Phew, it's all gone quiet, finally- some alone time!

24) Wait? Where's that dribbly little blonde boy gone? I miss him. I think he loves me. I think I love him, too.

To Daddy Pig, on Father's Day.

To the one and only- Daddy Pig,

My son is 2 and a half years old (human years, not sure what that equates to in pig years, and certainly not a clue what that is in animated pig years) and ever since my son laid his eyes on you, he has loved you. And I mean,he really loves you. In fact, he talks about you at least a few times each day and I'm beginning to wonder if, maybe he thinks you're his dad. 

You see, Daddy Pig, my son- Etienne, doesn't have his daddy in his life and as his two year old curiosity is beginning to blossom, he's beginning to wonder why lots of children have daddies and why there's been no mention of his. So, whilst using his toddler logic, I'm fairly sure that he's come to the conclusion that you must be his dad. I mean, he sees you fairly regularly; you're in every supermarket and book shop- your face is even on our plasters in the First Aid box. So, he wouldn't be wrong to assume that you're the main man in his life, would he?

Now, I'm cool with this (at least for now) BUT , for starters, you're going to need to embark on some sort of self-development regime. I mean, you have got to stop scoffing that chocolate cake. I've heard Peppa mocking you for your "big tummy" and to be fair to the girl, though she might be persistently rude, she has a point. I'm trying to teach my son about healthy eating and that he must eat his meals before he can have pudding. And frankly, you're not setting a great example. 

You wouldn't believe the amount of conversations we have about you. Honestly, the amount of times I've had to really pick my brains to figure out what on earth my son is going on about as he recites the same sentence over and over and over again. Turned out, he was quoting you. Pretty much every time!

Not so long ago, he spent a whole week of his little life repeating "daddy dropped the keys down the drain!" to which, I hadn't a clue how to respond other than with a half hearted and slightly confused "ohhh realllllyyyyyy?" since I believed he was simply creating made-up stories about imaginary people (as toddlers do)- until- I discovered (when I Googled it- good old Google) that in fact, you had dropped your keys down the drain once before!

 It's safe to say you're a clumsy idiot, or as Mummy pig would say "silly daddy!" 

Actually, why are you so silly? I mean, your family seem to call you out on your stupidity fairly regularly,but I heard through the grapevine that you're actually an architect so, surely, you can't really be so dopey, can you? 

Seriously, there's a whole episode just about you losing your own glasses. I can't believe you sent Mummy Pig and the littlies off to find them, only to discover you'd been sitting on them all along. Not your finest moment, was it, Daddy Pig? I saw you blushing. To be fair I didn't even know pigs could blush. Does that make me stupid, too?

Is it all a front, Daddy Pig? Do you act silly because you lack social skills? Do you suffer from baby brain? Or is Peppa simply so irritating that she's killed a few brain cells of yours by her constant whining? Are you, in fact, intimidated by Peppa because she's so damn bossy? Do you keep your mouth shut to avoid being corrected by that little know-it-all? You're a man of few words, aren't you, Daddy Pig?

Now, Daddy Pig, I like you, I really do- but, if you're going to represent a father figure and some kind of inspirational man/pig in my toddlers world, then you're going to need to reconsider some of your bad habits and I'm going to need to pick a few bones with you about your attitude.

Let's face it, on the whole, you are a marginally obese (which confirms the need to stop scoffing the cake,) lazy, couch potato. I realise that you're a pig and that generally, pigs do little more than eat and laze about, but come on Daddy Pig, your wife is also one of the rounded, pink, smelly kind and yet she seems to run your house (alongside Peppa, of course) whilst you sit in your armchair reading the local newspaper. FYI: I think you're starting to outgrow the armchair- a sure sign that something needs to change, don't you think?

Do you not fancy getting up off your backside every once in a while to offer some help in the kitchen? I know Mummy Pig hides it well, but I can see that she is stressed and on the brink of telling you to pack a bag and stay at your mums for the weekend (wait, where are your parents? Peppa and George only have one set of grandparents, did you have a huge family bust up years ago? You can talk to me, Daddy Pig. I've judged you on a lot of factors but I promise this won't be one of them.)

 Not to mention the fact that your precious little Peppa needs some talking to; she ought to learn a thing or two about sharing and perhaps how to not be such a total arse to George and her friends. God knows how Suzie puts up with her. I don't know why you let her get away with that attitude, I certainly wouldn't if she was my child (or would she be my pet rather than child?) Where's your parental responsibility, Daddy Pig? No wonder George is such a cry baby.

Anyway, I've also noticed that you're incapable of reading a map, terrible on the BBQ (not literally on the BBQ- sorry if I've offended you or any of your porky pals with that comment) and that you are absolutely the clumsiest person I've ever witnessed.

I'll be honest, I don't know much more about you, since your usual appearance in our home is at 5am whilst I'm still half asleep and Etienne is watching your family on a never-ending YouTube compilation on my phone, and mostly- all I hear is the hideous sound of The Bing-Bong Song, but I do occasionally hear you and my overall judgement is that you're either plain lazy or fed up. Or both. 

"What a perfect day for doing nothing!" 

Now, I'm all for doing "nothing", but my version of doing nothing still includes paying attention to my child and, you know, just generally being a parent and keeping half an eye on what my son is up to. But when you made that comment about doing nothing, what you actually meant to say was :

"What a perfect day to sit on my pink derrière (again) and watch my wife continuously pull the hyper-active children out of muddy puddles whilst I snore (oh wait, you're a pig, I'll let you off) in the sunshine and ignore Mummy Pig's attempts to juggle working from home,the dinner, the chocolate cake I'm about to pig out on (literally) and the mud-splattered children."

I blame you. I blame you when Etienne thinks it's okay to jump through muddy puddles without his wellies on- he learnt this from your obnoxious,rebellious children. Do you have anything to say about that?

I've always insisted that any man in my son's life would need to be a good enough role model; someone he can aspire to become. A strong, male influence. I stand by this, and I am keen to see some improvements from you, Daddy Pig. 

So please, since you're likely to be gracing us with your presence for the foreseeable future, for the sake of my son (and every other Daddy Pig fan out there, and I believe there's quite a few)...


Anyway, since I've said enough already and have probably wounded your ego a little too much, I'd like to say thanks for being there in times of need (like that one evening when nothing could sway Etienne to get in the bath, except those ten perfect words: "Do you want to take Daddy Pig in the bath?" It worked a treat! I owe you for that one.)

I suppose- you're not all bad, I'm sure you have a good heart and Etienne adores you so, what I'm really trying to say, in a round about way, is;

Happy Father's Day, Daddy Pig!

Best wishes,

Etienne's mummy.

PS. You should probably have a shave, the beard's not going too well for you, is it?

Rhyming with Wine

The perks of the job!

It's Friday which, for me, is not "cheers to the freakin' weekend" or "TGIF" because, you know, I'm a mum and unlike other jobs- it's a 24/7 thing.

However, Friday morning's just so happen to be my only toddler-free time as he's at nursery. So, naturally I am enjoying a caramel latte, alone time and peace and quiet (which is especially welcome today since my son was up at 3am this morning, marching around the flat whilst demanding a sandwich-WTF?)

Whilst sipping on my caramel latte (God,you never truly appreciate free time and life's little luxuries like coffee shops until you become a parent, that's for sure) I wanted to share this post with you, since I've had a few messages from you guys lately. A lot of these messages have come from women who are just entering into the world of single parenting and whom, like myself, are single from the very beginning; they are alone during pregnancy. Pregnancy is an emotional, stressful and daunting time and I would say, when it comes to the emotional side of single parenting, the pregnancy was the hardest part of my journey so far.

For me, it was hard for a number of reasons (I didn't have the greatest pregnancy- thanks to the devil that is "morning" sickness..) but what I found to be most testing at this time was the constant thinking about the 'unknown.' I'd had no prior experience of pregnancy,childbirth or motherhood whatsoever, I was a first time mum-to-be so, it would've been a frightening time regardless of circumstances, but it was made a hell of a lot more daunting by the fact that I was doing it alone.

It was definitely a testing nine months and I sure did lose sight of my excitement about becoming a parent and my reason to smile, a fair few times.

So, I totally get it. I get that at the moment it's all new and there's a huge fear of what's to come. I know that you will be asking yourself over and over again:

"Will I be able to cope alone with a baby?" 
"Have I made the right choice? "
"Will I be enough for my child?"
"Is it fair to bring this baby into the world without it's parents being together?"

And the answer is most definitely YES.

Let me share with you, my top five 'perks of the job.' The things which make being a single parent great; the things worth smiling about:

[Number 1] 

Parenting solo is so bloody peaceful. And by peaceful, I mean there's no conflicting opinions about "what's best" or competition over who does more around the house, there's no bickering over whose turn it is to feed the baby in the middle of the night. I did it and do it all myself and I just get on with it, without any feeling of resentment. I'm not stressing over the fact that my 'partner' is off on a night out with his mates for the hundredth time since the baby was born and I'm not irritated by the fact that he gets to sleep in on his days off. I have a "get up and go" attitude as a single parent because, well, there's not a lot of choice in the matter. But it's a great thing! I feel productive, I am happier and I am less stressed because of the chilled setup we have. Equally, there is nobody to tell me that what I am doing should be done differently, nobody to moan at me because I didn't empty the dishwasher or iron his shirt for work. In our home, the atmosphere is relaxed and calm and totally free of arguments.We do whatever the hell we want to do, when we want to do it, with whom we want to do it with. There is nobody else to consider and it's somewhat liberating. I also have a free pass to be selfish in the sense that I hog my son and it goes unnoticed because it's always just the two of us. However, even if I was supposed to be "sharing" him, I would probably still hog him. This way I just feel less guilty about it ;)

[Number 2] 

My bond with my child is particularly strong and, although of course I wouldn't have loved him any less if I had brought him into the world with a partner by my side, I do actually feel that our bond might not have been quite so special from the get go had it not just been the two of us. We have spent all the time in the world together because it's just us. I have done absolutely everything for him and as repayment I have been able to witness every single special moment and cherish them. I talk to my son, all day every day- if I didn't, we would live in a silent home. We chat and we laugh and we play without interruption. It is always 'one to one' time with us and through that, I have gotten to know him so well. As a matter of fact, I did see our bond lessen slightly when I entered into a new relationship with somebody soon after Etienne turned one. I felt our family dynamic change drastically and I'm not sure I liked it. A lot changed, my attention was suddenly divided. I gave a lot of my energy to the relationship and it's struggles and with that, my energy as a parent decreased. When the relationship ended, I found myself as a parent again and I remembered all of the things I had loved about raising my son by myself up until that point and I realised that honestly, I really do prefer things this way right now.

[Number 3]

I make the rules ( and if I want to break them, then I'll bloody well break them, too! Who's going to call me out on it?!)

I know that for lots of people, co-parenting is tough and it's extremely testing on both the individuals and their relationship with one another. I can't imagine having to compromise on absolutely every little thing when it comes to making choices about your child. What if your parenting styles are totally opposing to one another's? How do you combine two views and two sets of opinions? In this sense, lone parenting is actually simpler. Because it's just me, I decide what I feel is right for my son and that's what I go with. My parenting style is applied 100% of the time and it is consistent. Not only is this much more straight forward and less stressful for me, it is also great for my son because when it comes to children; consistency is key. He knows the boundaries and he knows they never change. He doesn't go off to his dads for the weekend and come home with an attitude because his dad let him get away with things I wouldn't have let him get away with. Both he and I are totally clear on the way our family runs and what is and isn't acceptable.

[Number 4]

 You are allowed to give yourself an extra huge pat on the back! Single parenting brings with it a huge sense of achievement and success. For the first time ever, I am genuinely proud of myself. I've never been one to feel particularly good about myself, I always wanted perfection and I did tend to put myself down a lot before becoming a mum. Now, I feel a sense of achievement and I know that I am capable because I am raising a child alone. It's far from easy but the challenge is motivating and it has given me a huge kick up the bum in life generally. Hard work really does pay off and in this case, it pays off when I see my son happy. When he's happy, I know that I am doing something right and that I am enough. Yes, there have been incredibly tough times but on the whole, I've never liked myself as much as I do now, nor have I ever seen myself so happy. This happiness within me has been recognised by friends and family also. I enjoy being a mother and I enjoy life with my son. When I am happy, my son is happy. When my son is happy, I am happy. It really is as simple as that. Life is straightforward and chilled out and nobody can walk through that front door at 6pm after a shit day at work, and put a downer on our great day. A great day is a great day. There is so much freedom which  I love and I am more than comfortable in my own company nowadays. I am confident that we work best as a team of two, every part of my mind body and soul tells me that. It is how we are meant to be, at least for now!

[Number 5]

Chances are, you'll better yourself along the way!

The word "lazy" is not part of a single parents vocabulary. Believe me, I was a lazy bugger before I gave birth. I'm the baby of my family (by ten years!) and I suppose I got some sort of luxury treatment since both of my sisters grew up and left home whilst I was still growing up. I got comfortable with other people doing things for me and I was far from proactive. I spent my teenage years procrastinating mostly (and drinking too much- of course.) Then I became a mum, alone, and suddenly there wasn't anyone else around to do it for me. Everything was down to me, from childbirth to baby shopping, nappy changes to booking appointments. I was suddenly responsible for absolutely everything. I couldn't kick my 'partner' awake in the middle of the night to feed the baby because,well.... I didn't have a partner to kick!

I didn't ponder over something like "should I feed him again or is it too soon?" and await someone else's opinion, because it was all down to me; my choices, my opinions and my judgement. This has been scary at times, and I have often turned to friends or family for their opinions on certain things but ultimately, it has all come down to my final say on things.
It is because of this, that I am no longer hesitant, I don't take a back seat and wait for someone else to lead the way, I have drive and I am not afraid to try new things or give things a go. I have gained heaps of confidence, I am self reliant and I "don't need no man" (except when I can't open jam jars or when there's a problem with the car, then yeah- I'm a bit stuck, but generally, I get by just fine.)

 I've managed to lug a buggy up and down a flight of stairs numerous times a day, often whilst juggling a child and a load of bags/ general baby luggage (why do they come with so much stuff??)
I've attempted (and mostly succeeded)  DIY at home, I've even endured a 5 hour long drive (which actually ended up being closer to 7 hours because of the lovely traffic) to Cornwall alone with a toddler in tow. There and back.

And I sit here and wonder, did I really do that? HOW?
Nope, not because I am super-woman, but because I just do it- and like me- you'll find you just do! Because if you didn't, nobody else would be there to do it for you!

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it gets on top of me, like when I have a meltdown over changing two sets of bed sheets (one of which is midget sized) because I get hot and bothered and well, I just hate it, really : serious new-found respect for chambermaids! How the hell do they do it?!

But above all else, I've discovered an incredible amount of personal strength; something I never knew I had. Trust me, you are stronger than you think.

Illustration by Charlotte Denny @ Life as a single mum.

Mum power- to the absolute max!

Is it happening already? Was that 'part one' of THE chat...?

OK, so this is extremely coincidental that this happened today; only a few days after I wrote about Etienne's fathers disappearance and the inevitable 'chat' I will one day have with Etienne.

But I promise you, this really happened.

Today, an elderly lady in the Post Office stopped us. She told Etienne that he was very handsome and that she loved his hat (standard- he gets it all the time, his ego is growing by the minute!)

She carried on chatting to him about how he looked like a real gentleman; "like the gents from back in my day..very smart indeed."

But then....then...she said it.

She got right up in his face (I'm assuming this was either because she wanted to speak to him personally, or because her eyesight was failing her- not sure which) and she said, lovingly:

"Your dad must be very proud of you!"


Why did she have to say the ONE thing that could've made the conversation uncomfortable?!

It's just typical, isn't it? I only popped in to post a sodding letter, it was supposed to be a super quick visit in order to tick one of my "to do's" off of the never-ending list.

I wasn't prepared for this. I wasn't even prepared for the massive queue in the Post Office with a tired toddler, let alone this!

I wanted the ground to swallow me up but instead, I panicked. No words came out so I just stared blankly. I couldn't even fake a "thank you" or a "yes, he is very proud."

And I certainly couldn't bring myself to correct her and have to explain, in front of the long line of people, that actually, Etienne's father hasn't met him. So, no I'm not sure that he is proud actually, lady.

Etienne looked completely bewildered and I could tell, by the way he went to open his mouth, that he so very nearly responded to what she had said (probably with something totally off topic like: "I've got a letter for the postman") but still...his confusion urged him to stay silent.

So, we were both silent and, though perhaps I was overly sensitive and all too aware, suddenly everything felt very awkward. And with that, the lady scurried off (probably wondering what on earth she had said wrong.)

I suppose, she hadn't really said anything wrong, as such.

She wasn't to know, and what she had said about Etienne was actually very sweet.

But, I knew what was coming next.

We posted our letter and we headed off to get an ice cream (my attempt to both make myself feel better and to distract Etienne from what had just happened.)


You see, the lady had now planted a little seed in Etienne's ever-so-highly-functioning brain.
He's always questioning things, he's forever curious and he constantly wants to learn about new things. He absorbs new information and new words almost straight away now (hence why at the age of 2.5 he can tell me which letters are in his name. That boy does not forget a thing!)

So, whilst enjoying his mini milk and succeeding in covering his face with sticky ice cream on the one time mummy forgot to pack the baby wipes- I could tell he was pondering what the lady had just said to him. He had pretty much been silent ever since (and in Etienne's case; silence is extremely rare.) I knew he was thinking about something.

I knew he was thinking about that. And of course, he came out with it.

The conversation went a little like this:

Etienne: "My daddy, he drives a van mummy.Is that my daddy's van?" *points to a parked vehicle*

Me: "No, Eti - that's the builders van"

Etienne: "My daddy.My daddy. My daddy."

Me: "Well, it's just Eti and mummy in our home isn't it? Oh and Panda- stinky Panda!"

Etienne:  "Yeah!"  *laughs excitedly*

And that was it.

The conversation was over in less than 30 seconds and he proceeded to chat about something unrelated (if I remember rightly, it was "look at that naughty pigeon mummy!" Sounds about right but I can't be sure. My head was chaos by this point.)

It was a short, simple conversation, with very little detail to it, yet it felt like one of the most important conversations I'd ever had with Etienne. It was the first time I had ever even attempted to explain to him that it's just the two of us. To me, it felt like a really big deal.

I was half expecting more questions, until I remembered that he is not even three yet and that he probably didn't take as much from that conversation as I thought he might have.

In his little world, he probably only heard the words "builders van" and "stinky panda" before becoming distracted by the "naughty pigeon" - as he put it. (Not entirely sure what was so "naughty" about this pigeon; looked pretty innocent to me!)

I wonder, though, is this the start of things to come? Have we entered into the territory of the dreaded 'chat'?

It made me realize how unprepared I am. I don't have a drafted answer for his inevitable "where's my daddy?"

In fact, up until I started sharing these blog posts with you lovely people, I had pretty much shoved that whole topic to the back of my mind. I think, only now, am I starting to think about anything outside of the "Mummy & Etienne bubble."

But since the "it's my dad at the door" comment the other day (click here if you missed it) and the constant use of the "D word" it's occurred to me that I really should start thinking about it.

I know that when the time comes (and I fear it's not far off, since he's an incredibly bright and knowing child,) I have a lot to explain to him, and more importantly, I have a responsibility to explain it carefully, honestly and in such a way as to cause as little heartache as possible.

(Carrying the Grump-A-Saurus- Rex all the way home.)
Not an easy task, right?

(Any advice would be most welcome.)

Anyway, on a separate note, after that interesting trip to the Post Office, our afternoon panned out to be fairly normal; we stopped by the supermarket where Etienne threw an almighty tantrum over a Teletubby cuddly toy he so desperately needed me to buy.

I said no. He threw himself on the floor. Everyone stared and I carried his sulky-self all the way home.

Nothing too unusual there, really!

Now, he's gone to bed and I'm sat here running over a few things in my mind and simply awaiting the next time he mentions his "dad" -
or, of course, the next time a random pensioner catches us off guard with that subject matter in the local Post Office!


Five things to make coping a little easier.

Ever since I published  "An honest letter to the man who abandoned his child" for the whole of the world wide web to read, I have been receiving a number of messages from women who are, or are about to be, in a similar position to myself, whether that's a single parent by choice, abandoned during pregnancy or raising a child alone for another reason- I suppose it's somewhat irrelevant since we are all enduring the same worries, fears and difficulties.

I've been thinking about these women; about the things they have said to me; the stories they have shared, and honestly, I can't believe how many of us are in these situations.

Personally, I'm yet to physically meet anyone whose story is in any way similar to mine so I've never really thought about how I might advise someone else who is going through or is about to go through what I have - until now. 

There have been plenty of times when I have pep talked myself and told myself I can do it and that everything will be ok.

Trust me when I say that this current mindset is something that I have mastered over time and by no means have I always been this strong. When I'm asked "how do you cope?" or "how on earth do you do it by yourself?" my answer is usually "well, I don't have much choice" but actually, it's more than that.

It's a learnt skill and I only really got to the place I'm at now by enduring some of the worst times and having to deal with serious amounts of crap. But, I'm glad because I have  come to find my own ways of coping and -as corny as it might sound- I've actually gotten to know myself pretty damn well since becoming a mum.

 For starters, I've learnt that I have a slight obsessive compulsive tendency which I never knew I had before (though I think it's probably a counteraction to the baby brain- since having a baby I witnessed my memory disintegrating so perhaps I developed a slight case of OCD in an attempt to not be so forgetful)

"Have I got my keys? Better check I've got my keys. Oh, wait, are my keys in the bag? Definitely got my keys?! Let me just check once more. Cool, got them! I'll just double check and then we can go" ...

......andddddd finally I can leave the house.

More importantly, I've learnt about what I can and can't cope with and for those times when I'm not coping so well, I've learnt how to look after myself and how to deal with the hard times in my own little way.

But, I've never shared  my coping mechanisms with another who might have needed it.

So, I suppose now's a better time than ever!

Here are my five top pieces of advice:


This comes at the very top of my list because, quite frankly, I feel it's the most important. No matter how exhausted, hopeless, fed up or teary you might feel some days; just get out of the house. Go anywhere. Walk to the shop and back. Wander along to the local park. Go splashing in puddles when it's raining and you can't think of a single other thing to do. Grab a coffee. Meet up with friends. Join a mother and toddler group.

Just, whatever you do, don't sit at home letting those four walls consume you.

Sometimes, being shut away from the outside world can be isolating and it can make life as a single parent that whole lot more daunting and lonely. Plus, being stuck in the same environment for hours on end can be just as frustrating for a child as it can be for us adults and a grumpy child is more than likely to equal a grumpy parent.

So,even when you feel like the last thing you want to do is get dressed and brave the outside world; force yourself to get up and get out. A change of scenery, some fresh air and some human interaction (other than with your child) can be so refreshing and is likely to do wonders for your mood. Honestly, I can't stress this enough. On days when I have found myself feeling rubbish and lacking energy or enthusiasm for the day ahead, I've had to really force myself to go out somewhere, even if it was somewhere I didn't particularly want to go, but by the end of it, I've forgotten all about that rubbish mood I had been in earlier on in the day.

2) Make sure you get enough sleep.

This doesn't just apply to those with newborns and young children. There will never be a time when lack of sleep has a positive impact on your mood and more importantly, your patience. I know you are likely to be sick of hearing "sleep when the baby sleeps" and I also know that few people actually do this (I know I didn't) because there's "other things to get done" when the little one is snoozing, but that advice is there for a bloody good reason. I've come to realise that the days when I struggle, feel out of my depth and feel fed up of battling with a strong willed two year old, are the days when I have had little sleep the night before. 

People laugh at me because most nights I go to bed around 8pm (nope, that's not a typo; I really do fall asleep at that hour- sometimes earlier if I've had a particularly full on day with my toddler,) but it's my way of coping and for me, it really makes a difference. My son likes to wake up around 4am/5am most mornings so the days are long and by the end of it I'm losing patience and I'm feeling grumpy and snappy towards him. He is an energetic little boy who needs challenging and stimulating constantly. The only way I can possibly keep up with his needs without any help is if I am well rested and full of energy too. 

I mean, are you really going to have the energy or the patience to explain to your toddler who is screaming, flapping and rolling around on the pavement over something trivial, that it's not a nice way to behave and that they should calm down, hug it out and move on? Doubt it. You're probably going to lose your temper and/or cry with them.

A good nights sleep is the best medicine. Physically and mentally.

3) Take each day as it comes and pick your battles.

I live by this. If I didn't, I'd probably be a nervous wreck. Remember that you are carrying the weight of responsibility of another human's life, alone. You are working your arse off day in, day out to cover all fields of this job called 'parenting' and you have taken the roles of two people, upon one set of shoulders. You are trying to make all of the decisions, alone. Plus, you are trying to make the right decisions. You are attempting to discipline your child whilst also aiming to be fair and gentle and consistent. You are dealing with every tantrum, every upset and every demand. Times will be hard. Your child will test you and drive to you despair and you will feel like giving up some days. You will wish for help and you will want to bite the head off of the person who watches you struggling in the supermarket and steps over the spilled contents of your bag instead of helping you whilst your toddler flees in the opposite direction. (Yes, that did really happen.)

It's OK to feel deflated sometimes and it's OK to give up, stick a film on and zone out for a while some days. But there will be days that will honestly feel like the best days of your life. There will be days you don't want to come to an end. There will be times you couldn't feel stronger, happier, or luckier. Every day is different. And just because today was a write off and you ended up crying yourself to sleep, it doesn't mean that tomorrow won't be one of the greatest days you've ever had. Just because your toddler was hitting and snatching today, doesn't mean that they won't throw their arms around you tomorrow and tell you that they love you. It doesn't mean that your newborn won't laugh for the first time tomorrow, just because they screamed all day today. In those happy moments, yesterday is forgotten about.

Children (toddlers especially) can be testing. So testing. They can also be draining and totally exhausting in every way- which is why you must choose your battles and forget about getting this parenting malarkey down to a T. 

There are boundaries which I am consistent with when it comes to my parenting style with my son and there are standards that I already expect of him (like using his "please" and "thank you's") BUT..... there are definitely things that I will let slide and times that I will let him have his own way for the sake of preventing yet another melt down and for the sake of my sanity. Sometimes, I give in because it's easier. Sometimes, you have to decide which battles are worth fighting and which ones are better left to go over your head. We have got enough on our plates as it is, we shouldn't make things harder for ourselves in an attempt to be " the perfect parent."

When my son wants to dress himself as half Spiderman- half wizard and he insists on accessorizing his outfit with his scooter helmet and jelly shoes- I simply ask myself: Is it worth it?

Yes, he looks ridiculous and he's probably going to be boiling but he will figure that out for himself eventually so... what do I do?  I leave him to it, chuck a spare change of clothes in his bag and off we go!

One tantrum of the day avoided: phew!

4)Get yourself a hobby and allow yourself some 'you' time.

 When you're raising a child, you're most likely devoting 99% of your time to that child and their wants/needs/demands. And as much as you adore your precious little person, you're also going to find yourself burnt out at times.

You need some time for yourself, whether that's when your little one is sleeping or at nursery. Any little bit of free time you have, make sure you spend it on yourself doing whatever it is that makes you feel good. I have ensured that I do not lose my sense of who I am and what I love doing since becoming a parent. Yes, I'm a mum and it's my biggest achievement to date, but I'm still me and I still need to entertain and express myself in more ways than playing peekaboo and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar a thousand times over. 

Of course, there are limitations when you become a full time parent. I mean, I can't leave my flat past the hour of 6pm because that's when my son goes to bed and I very rarely have a babysitter nearby or even the energy to go out "late." So my hobbies do not include dinner out or going to gigs (sadly.)

But in my child-free time, I occupy myself with reading a book, catching up on some trashy TV or being creative-It's been a part of my personality ever since I was young; whether it's up-cycling furniture, crafting or finding new ways to style my home; it's what I enjoy doing and I'm not about to give it up purely on the basis that I became a mother.

Having some 'me time' allows me to relax and switch off to an extent. It means that when I'm back in 'mum mode' I'm back in full swing. 

And finally...

5) Stop comparing yourself and your situation to others.

 I know how it feels when you look at those "perfect" families, living their lives the way you "should" be. I know it hurts when you are sat in a room full of families made up of two parents and a few perfect kids, whilst you sit there imagining what life might be like if you had their set up; what it would be like to have someone to go home to; someone to hand the baby over to when times are hard.

It's easy to compare but it's also ridiculous.

You do not know that that couple are happily married, just because they are married.

Nobody sees what goes on behind closed doors and one thing's for sure; it's not always harder being the single parent.

 Being single means that the only people you have to worry about are your child and yourself. Surely there's something quite hassle free and peaceful about that. There's nobody to answer to, nobody to disagree with, nobody to argue with about the night feeds because you're doing it all yourself anyway. I have to admit, in that sense, I actually find it quite refreshing.

Nobody has the perfect family or the perfect life; not even those who might pretend to. Stop convincing yourself that the grass is greener, because often it's not.

I would far rather be a lone parent than be with somebody who was wrong for me.

So next time you feel envious of that cute couple with their "perfect" family; remind yourself to think again and bring yourself back down to reality. 

Perhaps in some ways, your situation is a blessing in disguise. Every cloud and all that......

I hope some of you may have found this post helpful or reassuring in some way. Always remember, you're not alone. No matter how lonely life as a single parent might feel at times, there's always a little person looking up to you and that little person loves you more than you will ever know.