Single Parenting: The most relentless job in history – Guest Post by Ella at Ellamental Mama

single parenting pie chart

Welcome back to My Mountain, following last week’s break.  Thank you for all your responses to Katie’s fab post Parenting A High-Needs Baby – so many of you could relate.  This week we’re hearing from Ella about the challenges of single parenting…

I’m currently taking a break from having a mini breakdown over the broken wendy house so I can write this blog post (and hopefully get it all out of my system). It’s a small thing and I’m sure I’ll get it mended in the end, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, today at least, tomorrow no doubt it will be something else. It doesn’t really matter what the day brings. It’s always relentless doing it alone. Whether it’s the day the dishwasher breaks. Or three weeks later when you finally get it mended and end up with a mini flood left by the repair man and nothing put back right. It’s just another thing you have to sort. Alone.

Today, my tasks (in no particular order) have involved: dressing the toddler, changing nappies, cooking lunch, cleaning the house, taking an overly energetic toddler to the park, posting a friends birthday present, sorting out some photos to print, mending the wendy house (OK, trying to mend it), sorting out why the boiler wasn’t working, reading stories, sending work emails, writing this bloody blog, crying, feeding little one, putting on the washing and hanging it out (I add the hanging it out because it’s a rare occasion that I actually hang the washing out within three hours of the machine stopping), helping little one to do some painting (and cleaning him up again) and writing a shopping list. There was probably more but I’m too exhausted to remember. Needless to say, my day started well before my little one’s and will end well after he goes to bed.

I love him to pieces and in amongst all that I did enjoy many moments. Like when he walked so carefully to the park, waiting at the end of the pavement to hold my hand before crossing. Or when he was making beautiful paintings (of aeroplanes). Or when I was reading him his favourite book – giggling over the actions we were both doing was a pure joy. In those moments I remembered what parenting was all about. But my memory is short. Two minutes later and I found the whole thing so.fucking.relentless.

It’s not just doing it all that get’s so tiring. It’s the planning to make sure that it can get done. Planning it down to a tee. As a single parent there is never – never – a moment when I can pop out of the house without planning it. Either I have to have arranged a sitter, which I basically never do, or take my little one too. I can’t just pop out for a pint of milk or to post a letter. It all makes for a rather tired brain. Added to that, I usually have to try and do it on the cheap. Taking the bus if I need to get somewhere. Walking to the further shop to buy what I need for cheaper. Trekking miles to collect clothes for my son off freecycle. All just to save a few quid.

I have bad days, like every parent, but even on the good days it takes so little for it all to come tumbling down because I’m at full stretch. On most days, average days, it’s just so relentless. I never signed up to this. I didn’t sign up to being a parent on my own, 24/7, 365. I didn’t sign up to being the accountant, carpenter, plumber, cleaner, decorator, teacher, carer, cook, gardener, and general bloody dogsbody. But that’s what I am. Maintaining patience with my son in the face of the bedtime battles when I have 101 things I need to do, pulling me downstairs is a near on impossible feat. On nights when bedtime is more of a struggle than usual, my head feels like it’s going to explode.

Anyway, enough with the complaining. I have a piece of wendy house roof in my lounge which I just retrieved from the neighbours’ (it had blown over the fence), so I guess I’d better go and sort it out before little one wakes from his nap. What, you thought I was writing this at the end of a long day? No chance, I’m not even half way through it!


If you too are a single parenting and you’re struggling, or you just want to meet a few other people in your position, then Gingerbread is a great resource. They have advice and information as well as lots of local groups around the UK.

Ellamental Mama blogs about the highs and lows of single motherhood. You can follow her on Facebook  and Twitter.

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36 comments on “Single Parenting: The most relentless job in history – Guest Post by Ella at Ellamental Mama

  1. I take my hat off to you. I am forever saying I don’t know how single mums do it you are fantastic! I’m also impressed at how much you do in a day! Today I have only managed a quick tidy, strip and making the beds and half the mountain of washing! #KCACOLS

  2. Yep. I’m a single parent too and “relentless” is a word that I frequently use to describe it.
    I’m “lucky” in that I get a couple of nights respite every fortnight, when my boys go to their dad’s, and my god I need it! Hats off to those mums who truly do it all by themselves, it is hard going.

    1. I can’t even imagine, I struggle as it is! So pleased Ella has shared this perspective with us. Thanks for reading and commenting x

    2. Yeah, it is hard when you don’t get that break. Although I’ve also read some posts about how hard it is to have them go away to their dads too so I’m glad I don’t have to go through the emotions of that. Well done to you and all the other single mums out there! x

  3. This really made me think. Yes, I was a single parent for 7 years, but I was extremely lucky that I had my parents help and was able to still live at home with them.
    I really don’t know how I would’ve ever coped without them. I am in total awe and admiration for doing it alone.

    Laura xx

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday 🙂
    Laura @ Dot Makes 4 recently posted…I think I’m getting old…..My Profile

    1. Thanks Laura. I’m sure 7 years of single parenting was still full on even with parents support! My mum helps out with childcare every week while I work which is a big help too. Grandparents really are invaluable! Thanks for commenting x

  4. I find parenthood hard enough as it is. I think you deserve a medal, a bloody big one!!


  5. Oh hun, was a single Mom for so long (8 years) and my son’s father was long gone from the picture. I can remember how hard it all was, how exhausting, there is no end to the things that need to be done, no end to the things not done, and every moment you feel stretched almost too thin. But, we love our kiddos, and we push through, bent on getting it all done, bent on not letting them feel like they are shorted. Keep pushing Momma, I know some days are hell, but it gets easier, and you are one tough duck, because you are doing it on your own! #KCACOLS

    1. Arh thanks for your lovely supportive words. That’s all so true. Well done you for getting through 8 years of it! And I hope that means you got a happy ending in the end x

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  6. I feel like the house slave despite not being a single parent because I do pretty much everything, including organising the future things that need to be done, but the difference is I have someone there who can be my Plan B when I hit the brick wall and completely flip, or just listen to me rant when I’ve had a bad day. You have to go through all the shit and survive alone at the end of it so I agree that you deserve a bloody medal and some time off! Keep strong, you’re doing a great job!

  7. I’m in complete awe of single parents. Parenting is relentless whether you’re a single parent or not – at least when you’re in a relationship you have someone to take some of the pressure. Sounds like you’re doing a great job x

  8. I can’t begin to imagine the daily struggles a single mother goes through and I’m sad that motherhood can be so isolating and frustrating. You seem to take it all in your stead, however, somehow coping somehow living and still dealing with each and every problem that is being thrown at you.

    Well done you for being a mother and so much more. You are stronger than you think you are even if you don’t believe it!#KCACOLS
    Conflicted Orange recently posted…S is for Self-DestructiveMy Profile

  9. I genuinely don’t know how single parents do it, I have so much respect for them, it must be soooo hard. Like she said, just popping out to post a letter has to be planned. Seriously, single parents do an amazing job xx

  10. I think single mums are amazing and well done to you and all out there. At the moment I’m contemplating my marriage recently which I’m not taking lightly, PND is taking its tole along with other issues that has arisen since having my son and reading your blog has been insightful. Thank you x

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