I’m Mulling Over My Childcare / Babysitting Options …..

What do you use as evening childcare? I’m really curious about this one as lately, I’ve been struggling about the morality of having to leave your children and the options you have. (Or lack of in my case.) It was never really an issue when I was married, I rarely went out, and if I did, if my mum didn’t look after my kids, I went on my own. Truth be told I can probably count on one hand the times I had to ask her to babysit. Now though, it’s a completely different ball game.

I’m completely tied to only making evening or weekend appointments when my children are at their dad’s, or on the odd occasion when I need to be out for work in the evening and it doesn’t fall on those days, I have called on my mum. She never complains, but she does so much to help me out during the day, I hate having to ask. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve had to cancel going to an event as my childcare plans fell through at the last minute so it’s time to start looking at other options. Plus it’d be nice to go on a date or even an evening gym class.  It’s not all work, work, work ya know!

I’ve toyed with the idea of asking my eldest son to babysit now and then, but in all honesty, I worry he won’t hear my youngest if he wakes up as he sits on his computer / does his homework with his earphones on. Technically he’s old enough to be a dad himself, but that still doesn’t leave me feeling comfortable about leaving him in charge!

What do you use as evening childcare? I'm really curious about this one as lately, I've been struggling

Photo credit – AMP Photo Co

Then there’s asking around for a local babysitter, students looking for some extra cash maybe. But I’m unsure about that one. Plus, I’m basically asking a 17-year-old to come and babysit my 17-year-old as well as my little preschooler and young teen. You see my problem now?It’s not always reliable is it, and with my aim to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

You see my problem now? It’s not always reliable is it, and with my aim to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

Plus, it’s not always reliable babysitting is it, and with my aim being to avoid having to cancel my evening plans, reliability is a must.

I’ll hands up admit that the one thing I find most difficult about being a single parent is how limited I am with childcare. I’ve even looked into using an agency like Sitters.co.uk which allows you to book childcare online, at least with this option I can build up a bank of local carers who have been reference-checked and have professional childcare experience. I’ve checked it out and bookmarked it as a backup plan.

So there you go,  unless you can suggest otherwise? I’d really love to know.

What do you use as evening childcare? I'm really curious about this one as lately, I've been struggling

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The Reality of Being a Single Parent Working From Home.

I’ve always had dreams. At primary school, I thought I’d be famous as my best friend and I made up our own shows and performed for the school, I dabbled with the idea of being in a successful rock band but my bad attitude and teenage laziness meant I only ever learnt 4 songs on the bass guitar. It sort of came back in college when I strived to be the next Annie Leibovitz, but I was never really that good at channelling one particular talent, like many teens I was easily distracted by friends and boyfriends.

Yet that all changed when I became a mum, something inside kick-started an ambitious streak, suddenly I needed to prove to myself and my son that I could be a good mum and have a career. It was never about not enjoying just being a mum, far from it. It was the making of me and gave me a determination and focus which had always been lacking.

I also knew that I needed to provide for my family as much as my husband, that the days of him going out to work while I stayed home and kept the house clean and kids entertained was just not possible if I wanted to have holidays and a home big enough for a few more kids. It needed to be a team effort.

For a while it worked perfectly for a while, I finished my degree and found the perfect job which allowed me to be around for my boys and a stepping stone to a career I’d been aiming for, at that point, as a working mum I did have it all. My husband and I tag parented, and for a while, it worked

Then things changed; meant my marriage crumbled beyond repair and now I was stepping into a whole new world as a working single mum, my optimism became my drive telling me I could still do this.

While on the outside I probably appear to have it all. I can work from the comfort of my desk at home, I have the freedom to drop off and pick up my youngest son from preschool and change my working hours as and when needed. The reality is very different.

That ambition I mentioned, it’s very much still there. More than ever in fact. Now I’m doing this all on my own, it’s all down to me to earn enough to make sure they don’t miss out simply because things didn’t work out between their dad and I.

It’s not so easy when you don’t have a husband coming home at the end of the day to take over with the kids while I complete work deadlines. I can’t get up early in the morning to go for a run with the dog while the kids are still asleep, freeing up precious work time later when they’re all at school. Life as a single working mum is all about juggling and careful time management. Just as it was when I was married, but now I don’t have a backup partner.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is –

about using your free time constructively to catch up on work and housework while still maintaining a personal life.

It’s about grabbing every free minute of the day and night to reply to emails, or making phone calls. working while cooking, walking the dog, standing in a super maket queue and walking up to pre school.

It’s about working late and getting up early. Working while watching TV just so you know what the rest of Facebook is talking about so you feel you’re in touch with reality.

It’s all about balance; giving your children undivided attention while resisting work and not fretting about getting it done. Something which I often get wrong.

But on the flip side, I don’t have a husband coming home in a bad mood after a bad day at work, I don’t have the worry of being home at certain times to cook dinner. If the boys and I are out for the day in the holidays there’s not rush to get back. I don’t have someone moaning that I’m working in the evening,  unaware that I don’t have the luxury of just stepping out the door to go to work in the morning without making sure the kids are sorted for the day and coming home to relax. That stress is gone.

Plus I get every other weekend, while my kids are with their dad, to catch up on work if need be.

And while I often wonder if my life might be easier if I went out to work every day, at set times and not bring my work home with me, I wouldn’t be following my ambition and I wouldn’t have the flexibility like I do now.

Plus, my kid’s won’t be living at home forever.

So while I perfect the single, work from home, mum lifestyle, it is only temporary.

And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

The reality of being a single parent, working from home is about It's about grabbing every free minute of the day & night to meet deadlines

 

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Divorce – to party or not to party?

D-day is almost here and I’ve been thinking about the best way to handle it. As Divorces go, it’s been ok I guess, that could just be down to my general approach to life; keep positive and look forward never dwell. Sure, there’s been hiccups and moments where I’ve wallowed in a massive pool of self pity, I’m an awful mother for putting my kids through this and I’ve failed at being a wife days.

There’s also been moments of complete and utter excitement as I anticipate what the future brings. I don’t dare plan too much, that’s the knock on of separation. After a long relationship is you realise life can always throw you a curve ball, and I’ve no idea if there will ever be a Mr Right in that future I don’t dare plan. I’m still an old romantic at heart and love the idea of happily ever after, but I’m not going to make that my sole mission in life.

For the first time, in a very long time, I’m quite happy being me, myself and I.

One thing no one warns you about, when you and your husband go your separate ways and you take on the role of My Single Friend, is you become a go-to and confidant for everyone else’s marriage troubles, that’s a great reminder of how much better off I am right now. That could be a reason to party.

So that clears up where I am on Separation Street, the perfect time to put it out there, that conversation which keeps popping up;

Are you going to have a divorce party?

Is a divorce ever something you should celebrate? After all, it’s a failure to maintain a relationship, and one which I worked bloody hard to keep going, but come the end, the lows far out weighed the highs, it was a pretty dark place for us all then things came to light which made the fight to stay together futile.

If I’m honest, there’s no denying I’m much happier with how life is right now, but do I celebrate the reason for why I’m here with a party? My release into my new life….

should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

I’m not the angry, bitter, man-hating soon to be divorcee, so I don’t need a freedom style party. Neither do I feel the need to burn my wedding photos or dress. My current status is what it is and there were moments when married life was ace, 3 amazing kids being the ultimate showcase, and my best coping mechanism is to not dwell on the past or revisit old wounds.

And while I’m not proud of being a statistic; a single mum of three, purveyor of a broken home. I am proud of the life my boys and I have now, we may not be a home of 2 parents, 2.4 kids. But we’re a happy, relaxed set up.

What constitutes a normal family these days anyway?

So the alternative is to celebrate new beginnings and continue to look to the future. For me, divorce is an end of an era and stepping stone onto my next adventure. I’ve reflected on my part in the break up and learnt what not and what I should do next time.

And I’m sure I’ll have the odd moment of ‘what if I’d done this’ which I’ll then put it aside, raise a glass  and wish my ex husband well with the hope that we’ll both go onto have happy, healthy lives.

While he’s stands there,

burning wedding photos.
should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

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Is 40 the new 25? Why I’m refusing to grow old appropriately

If you’d have said that at 41 and a half I’d be fitter, healthier and slimmer than my 25-year-old self, I’d have laughed in your face. (Then secretly hoped you knew something about my destiny than I did.) Optimistic me likes to hang on to any glimmer of hope, while gullible me will believe anything that you tell me if it’s going to make me feel good. Yet the bizarre thing is, it’s true, along with many of my fellow forty somethings who are refusing to attach themselves to the notion of what 40 should look like.

Not one to pigeon-hole an age or say what’s right or wrong, but in my twenties I had already decided that once I hit 40 I would cut my long brown hair short and stop trying to keep up with fashion,  I’d dress sensibly, probably at Boden, and take up a craft like hobby. Weekends would consist of routine of ferrying kids around to sporting events and gardening. Or so I thought.

Why exactly I decided that would happen is a little bonkers given that my mum was doing things at 40 for the first time, and still very much the life and soul of the weekend party goer. The 2o years between us meant nothing when you were raising the roof and mock pole dancing at family functions with a who gives a fidget attitude. She taught me well!

I think back to how I was behaving at 25 and it’s possible I peaked too early, maybe that’s why I took a restock of my life? I’d done sensible and it was time to claw back those prime years while I still had time.

So after F-day had passed I gave up red meat, joined the gym, started teeth straightening treatment and bought a whole new wardrobe of ageless clothes and make up. I even tried eye liner flicks (and failed) considered facial fillers (not brave enough) and switched to listening to radio 1 (sorry Jeremy.)  There are some things which I won’t be doing, like joining Tinder (might be subject to change) and getting ‘down in da club’ all night, I need beauty sleep and my feet ache if I dance too long in heels. I’m not a complete lose cannon, plus the teenage sons who lurke in my house somewhere might abandon me totally.

There’s always a catalyst to a radical lifestyle change and I suspect that the end of my marriage was mine. Suddenly I had weekends to fill and time to focus on Ali the person and not just Ali the wife and mother. Didn’t see that one coming at 25!

And 41 I have no hesitation in admitting my age,  I’ll be keeping my long brown locks, touching up my roots every 6 weeks. I’ll keep trying out the latest fashion, cursing when appropriate and blasting out the latest chart hits in my sensible Mercedes A-class.

One thing I’ve learnt which comes with age, aside from a little wisdom and a chunk of hindsight, is the confidence to not give a toss what others think of you.

And I have a sneaky feeling that I’m not alone in the 40 somethings growing old in appropiately.

I'm joining the growing number of 40 somethings who are refusing to grow up and grow old gracefully in the most sensible manner possible.

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How To Exit A Marriage Gracefully

Not one to reign doom and gloom on what should be the happiest time of year, but it’s given that many couples decided to part in the new year . I can only guessing it’s a case of out with the old, in with new which trigger most people to make such a momentous decision. Or maybe the stress of having extended time together makes people realise that they simply can’t abide another year or for some the drinking and partying led to extreme behaviour which couldn’t be forgiven. Who knows?  What ever the reason, though, it happens. My own parents are testament to it,  January 4th, if you need dates.

So if this is you,  lets put those extreme emotions aside and look at the practical side. First thing first, it happens, shit happens and it’s not a failure or a dirty word. It takes a strong person to stay in an unhappy marriage but an even stronger one to say I tried but it’s time to walk away for my own sanity and that of my family.  So for those with an inkling it’s on the cards, I’m dishing the dirt  on some of my own experience as I face the first Christmas on my own. (Not that I’m ever truly alone, I have my rock steady tribe of friends and family that see to that, but you get the gist.)

Lets begin by facing facts; Separation and divorce  is NEVER a private affair no matter how hard you try. Everyone has their opinion, it’s only natural that people take sides, whether it’s Team Husband or Team Wife. It’s where true friends show their allegiance and families stand firm and proud. It’s great if you can split amicably, I’m not saying in a grown up way as lets face it, how many grown ups do you know who wouldn’t want to defend their friends or family in this situation. There’s nothing grown up about it, quite the opposite, part of being grown up is supporting each other in their time of need. It’s the bitterness and nastiness that needs leaving at the Jeremy Kyle / Jerry Springer studio.

I personally have been trying my darn hardest to do things a little different. When I finally accepted that our time was up, I made a conscious decision to exit my marriage with grace and respect, to not play the victim and to hold my head up high,

And I’m not going to lie, it’s been one of the hardest approaches to something I have EVER made.

Inside I was screaming for injustice and revenge but as the fire died down and I reflected on what was and what could now be, the right and only course for me to take was the calm one. I’m not a drama queen by nature,  neither am I vengeful or scheming. So I had to go with what I do and know best and be calm, collected and in control.

Bonkers you say? “Get out there and fight” was that?

Just think about it, where exactly will it get you? You can’t fight fire with fire and there’s no more damaging emotion than hate and anger. So why be everyone else’s drama topic of the day? Nope, it’s the low road for me, plus karma does a pretty good job of sorting out the deserving & not so.

And while the practicalities of the situation mean you will have to exercise your own opinion in some shape or form. Keeping your counsel and letting the professionals do what they do best. You need to try mediation prior to any divorce proceedings. This is involves sitting with a trained mediator who is completely neutral  while you discuss between you how to approach childcare arrangements, divving up your assets and anything else you need to discuss with your ex partner.

Once that’s all done and dusted (and whether it worked out or not, it’s not always suitable, especially in cases where there was domestic violence) Next step it to make it official by moving on to the divorce proceedings. If mediation worked out ok (which is the MUCH cheaper option) you can file for divorce by enlisting a solicitor firm online  check out Slater Gordon divorce solicitors to give you an idea of how this works, or  visiting a local firm. Most offer an initial mini free session which helps you get a feel if they’re the right person to take charge  of such a whopping great big life choice.

What’s important here is to try not to air your dirty washing on social media. Once those words are out there they’re permanent and can’t be unsaid. Choose your sounding out boards wisely, gather up the fun ones who’s distract you and  filter out the trusting few who you can vent to and know that it’ll go no further.

And while I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover before I’m out of the woods, I’d like to think that there is still a possibility I can exit this  marriage gracefully, even if I do trip up a little along the way.

If you’d like to read more posts on my journey from married to single try these;

 Status update, theres something you should know

What The Early Days As A Single Mum Feels Like

end of a long term relationship

why you need to hit rock bottom How To Exit A Marriage With Grace And Respect  

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This is a collaborative post. 

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