How to be a happy single parent

I’m proud to be a single parent but it is my support network that enables me to be more than just proud, but also a confident and happy single parent.

As I watched Myleene Klass’s programme on single mums, the importance of support networks really struck me.  Those single mums who seemed happiest were those who weren’t isolated and who had strong family and friend support networks.   

I am really lucky to have a great support network. I have:

My family 

My mum looks after Cygnet 2 or 3 days a week so that I can work.  She adores spending time with Cygnet and sees it as a privilege, which I am obviously thrilled about.  But this support is massively important to me both financially and emotionally.  I don’t know that I would be able to survive without her help.

My dad is also round at my flat a lot.  I bought my flat from an 86 year old lady in June last year.  She is a lovely lady and really looked after the place, but it is fair to say that her choice of wallpaper, her pink carpets and her avocado skin coloured work tops (they have to be seen to be believed)  are not to my taste.  My parents and I have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort decorating in the last nine months.  My dad is regularly at my flat putting up blinds, sorting the electrics, drilling.  I actually think he enjoys it too. 

I don’t know what I’d do without either them. 

New friends in the area

When I moved to the area nine months ago I didn’t know anyone.   I took a week off work and took Cygnet to all of the free events for babies in the local area.  I went to tumble gym, I went to rhyme time at the local library, we fed the ducks, we did messy play.

Cygnet still does a lot of this with Grandma while I am at work, but that week enabled me to meet local mums in the area.  We bump into each other in the park at a weekend.  We meet for coffee and a ‘play date’ when I have a day off. 

I am also really lucky to have met another single mum whose daughter is only three months older than Cygnet.  We regularly share dating stories, challenges of dealing with the ex, pictures of our little ones, thoughts about ‘me time’ when you really have no time. 

Two single mum friends at work

Both of these women are about 20 years older than me.  Both have been single mums for a long time.  Both have older children.  And, most importantly, both are willing to listen, to share their experiences and to provide non-patronising but supportive comments about being a single mum. 

happy single parent

If you know a single parent, or indeed if you are a single parent, these are a few things you can do to make single parenthood a whole lot easier:

Reach out to other single parents

A lot of the challenges of single parenthood are not unique to single parents.  All parents will probably suffer with sleep deprivation, tantrums, discipline challenges, sick children, financial strain, insufficient ‘me time’. 

But there are unique things about being a single parent:  co-parenting; dealing with the ex; feeling lost as you miss your children when they are with their other parent; wishing that you could have fifteen minutes off to have a shower when you are on your own with your children; having no-one to share the joyful moments of parenthood with. 

I really appreciate being able to discuss, moan, just talk about these things with a fellow single parent; someone who has been and is going through similar challenges.  My single mum friend and I meet, with our children, every Monday night and have tea at one or other of our flats for an hour or so. She has a girl, I have a boy.  We jokingly call it “date night”. 

Don’t forget the weekends

As a single parent I find the weekends hard.  My other parent friends naturally want to spend time as a family and don’t really want to meet me and Cygnet, or just me, if Cygnet is with his daddy.

Cygnet and I do just fine.  Recently we’ve watched a local tennis tournament, we’ve been to Monski’s mini baby disco at the Southbank Centre and we regularly go to the sandpit at the local park.  But whilst we are doing all of this we are surrounded by families, happy families.  Don’t get me wrong, I love families, but I can feel isolated and cut off from other people’s family units at a weekend. 

If you do know a single parent, invite them to spend time with you at a weekend. 

Company in the evenings

I try to be quite strict about bedtime and try to get Cygnet to bed by 7pm.  This doesn’t always work, but when it does it means that I have about three hours of Netflix, boxsets, washing, cleaning or blogging time before I go to bed.  The evenings can feel a bit solitary.  A glass of wine and a gossip would be great. 

I appreciate that it is really inconvenient for other parents, who, after a hard day’s work or a hard day entertaining children really just want to collapse on the sofa with their partner and a bottle of wine.  But I’d like to invite you round to dinner – nothing special, just a pizza so that I can have some adult company and a natter.  Just once a month.  That for a single parent would be just lovely. 

Brilliant blog posts on

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


    • thesingleswan
      July 2, 2016 / 8:19 pm

      Aaah, thanks. Ive just sent you a photo of my kitchen via twitter.. xx

  1. July 2, 2016 / 9:30 pm

    It’s great that you have a support network of family and friends. Your parents sound fab! I love that your mum can watch your little one whilst you are at work – they must both have so much fun! #KCACOLS
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…Ten Things I’ve Loved – JuneMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 2, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      Hi Jenni,

      Yes they do have a lot of fun I think. THanks for you comment. Pen x

  2. July 2, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Being a parent with the other half is already a hard task! So being a single parent is such an accomplishment. Well done! and great writing.

    • thesingleswan
      July 2, 2016 / 9:47 pm

      thank you. Pen x

  3. July 2, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    Your parents sounds wonderful and a real support. I can understand the evenings feeling lonely though. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      Hi Fiona,

      thanks very much for your comment. Pen x

  4. July 2, 2016 / 11:21 pm

    My husband traveled for his job 90% of the time (world wide) for the first year of my son’s life. It was during a time when we just moved across country and I knew literally no one in a 300 mile radius. On top of it all I was working a very demanding (and brand new) full time job. My point in sharing that is, there were many times I felt like a single Mom and after that experience I can not tell you how much respect I developed for those who are. It’s a struggle that only those who have been through really know how hard it can be. Keep it up girl because it’s not easy and you sound like you really have it together! Great post, I really enjoyed reading 🙂 #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:41 pm

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks so much for your comment. That must have been tremendously hard for you when your husband was away and you had no friends or family to support you. I take my hat off to you. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      Hi Becky,

      Thanks very much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Pen x

  5. July 3, 2016 / 7:05 am

    It’s great that you have such a fantastic support system in place hon! I know how hard and lonely it can be being a single parent as both my mom and sister are both single parents, so I’ve seen and heard from them just how hard being a single parent can be. Having said that my mom is basically my sister’s kids parents as my sister can’t be arsed to parent her kids and is always jetting off to Africa. Thanks for the thoughtful and helpful tips on helping to be a good friend to a single mum.Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday. Xx
    Mommy’s Little Princesses recently posted…​Experiencing Langold’s Splash ParkMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:37 pm


      It is a pleasure. I will get writing and hope to be back on Sunday. Pen x

  6. July 3, 2016 / 9:13 am

    Oh this is such a wonderful post full of warmth and solidarity – your family sound amazing as do your friends. How can they not want to pop round for dinner after such a beautiful invite?! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Thanks! What a lovely comment. Pen x

  7. July 3, 2016 / 10:45 am

    Totally need to see a photo of the kitchen 😉 Being a single parent is so hard, my mom was one. I have friends that are and you can’t just say, “hey let me know if you need help!” the answer is always YES they need help. Most will not ask, so just offer! Go! Do! #KCACOLS
    Jen @Practical, By Default recently posted…Confused About Why I Blog? Get Your AnswerMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Thanks Jen,

      I am not sure that I can inflict a photo of the kitchen on all of you. I quite like my readers and my kitchen really is a sight for sore eyes. Pen x

  8. July 3, 2016 / 11:44 am

    The worst thing is that I would probably have loved the pink and avacado! Lol. Seriously though, there are some great tips here. Even though I have a partner, I know I should make more of an effort to spend time with other people. If it wasn’t for work I would probably only see family for weeks at a time! x #KCACOLS
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…This Week #42My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:35 pm

      Hi Jess,

      Thanks for your comment. I am not criticising. In our time poor lives, spending time with a partner is really important. Pen x

  9. July 3, 2016 / 12:51 pm

    This post really struck a chord with me. I’ve been a single parent for 9 months (wow – that long?!) now and can identify with virtually everything you say. Like you, I’m lucky to have my parents nearby, and a good group of friends who I can meet up with regularly.
    The only problem I have is that none of my friends with young children are single – so the weekends, as you highlighted, can be hard. Sometimes I actually dread having the children to myself for a whole weekend, as it’s so intense and I feel like all my happily married friends just want family time. Those weekends are the only time that I feel isolated, though, so I consider myself pretty lucky.

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:34 pm

      Well done you. It sounds like you are doing great. 9 months is not a long time at all and yes, you’re right time really does pass quickly. Pen x

  10. July 3, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    Oh man, I’d love to see a photo of that kitchen, haha!! Seriously though, hats off to you, I cannot imagine what it’s like going at it alone. I count down the hours when my husband will be home so I can throw the baby at him and lock myself into the bathroom! So glad you have such a wonderful support network (: #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:26 pm

      Hi Savannah,

      Thanks for your comment. My kitchen is a sight for sore eyes. I don’t want to inflict photos on my readers. It just wouldn’t be fair. Pen x

  11. July 3, 2016 / 11:03 pm

    I can’t imagine how difficult it can be being a single parent! My husband is out one night a week for bath and bedtime and it is SO much harder without back up! #KCACOLS
    Emilie recently posted…A Blogging Good Read #1My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:25 pm

      Hi Emilie,

      I am really lucky because I do have back up from my family and friends. Parenthood brings challenges for all of us. Pen x

  12. July 4, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    You’ve summed up being a single parent so well. It can be very isolating. I’ve had such a mixture of being married, single and in a relationship and being single is by far (for me) very tiring and awkward at times being around other families. I’d often go home and cry because I felt bad that I wasnt providing that aspect for the kids. Still, life moves on and things change and can turn out bloomin super. Great post x

    mainy – myrealfairy

    mainy – myrealfairy recently posted…The Promise…can it be broken?My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      Hi Mainy,

      Thanks so much for your comment. Pen x x

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      Hi Jane,

      I haven’t taken many before photos, but I can assure you that they are not pretty. Pen x

  13. July 5, 2016 / 8:44 pm

    I’m not a single parent, and I still rely quite heavily on my support network. It’s great that you’ve got such a good one built up around you. So lovely to have your parents close by and such a part of your lives. x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…Break out the champagneMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Hi Madeline,

      Parenting is a lot easier with a good support network. We are both really lucky to have one. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  14. July 8, 2016 / 6:24 am

    Those worktops don’t sound too beautiful! I split from my daughters father coming up four years now and whilst I’ve met someone else and we now live together I get what you mean about the evenings…he works nights so we are pretty much ships that pass by. Some company, a pizza and a glass of wine would be lovely! I agree, support networks are really helpful! I had a lot both on and offline to help me get through all the changes that were going on. #kcacols
    Kat recently posted…Facetox – ReviewMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 8, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      Hi Kat,

      I am really glad that you have met someone else and that you now live together, but it is tough that you can’t spend the evenings together. As a single parent I think I have an image in my head of what a family life looks like. Live just isn’t like that. Pen x

  15. July 10, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    I so get all this now! I am still trying to scrape together some kind of a single mum friend support network which, as you say, would be lovely for all those lonely weekends and a handful of evenings. I’m in London at the moment too – we should figure out if we ever have any crossover weekends off the kids and meet up for a drink & chat. You can always send me a message over on Facebook? Xx
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #82My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 12, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it would be great to meet up. Not on FB – I’m not on there, but Twitter will work. Pen x

      • July 13, 2016 / 8:27 am

        Cool 😊 Looking forward to meeting you! X

        • thesingleswan
          July 14, 2016 / 9:13 pm


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