As the parent of a toddler, I know what it’s like to have to wake up every morning and fight a (mostly) losing battle to get him dressed and ready for daycare, all within the space of about half an hour. I limit myself to half an hour, because I’d rather not give him time to get too out of hand and remember that we have cookies in the cupboard. Once he’s remembered this, the whole morning is a a complete disaster, because he will insist on having a cookie, and will even throw huge tantrums until he either gets one, or we are both in tears.
As a single parent, this has to be one of the hardest things to cope with. You are the only one available in the mornings to deal with this, and not only do you have to get your child (or children) ready for the day, but you also have to get yourself ready. I am lucky, in that my son gets breakfast at school. But if you’re a single parent and you have to feed your child in the morning, too, then you will probably end up rushing around trying to do everything at once.
Having to remember to get milk if you run out, to make sure that there is porridge or bread or yoghurt or fruit, or whatever it is that your child will eat in the mornings, means that as a single parent your mind is probably all over the place.
Single parents and picky eaters
Add to this the fact that most toddlers are fussy eaters, and this can make your morning start even worse. Single parents have to put up with all of the same things that other parents do, but since they are alone in the house, they also have to put up with it all by themselves. Imagine a morning when your darling child suddenly decides that the toast and jam that he used to love is no longer an option, and he now wants only fruit or only yoghurt. And you ran out yesterday and forgot to buy.
You don’t have the luxury of a partner to quickly dash off to the shop to buy some, or even to help you in calming down your suddenly adamant child. And then of course, the dreaded word enters the fray – no.
Single parents and the word “no”
It’s probably our fault, as parents and single parents, because we often use this word in conversation ourselves, and generally quite often when it comes to our children. No, you can’t have this, or no, we have to go now, are probably very high in our vocabulary by the time our darling baby has reached the toddler years.
And your child will pick up on this word, and they will know exactly how to use it. My son’s favourite at the moment is no, I don’t want to wear shoes. Which would be fine if the weather was warm, but it’s now become quite cold. But as a single mother, I’m just not going to get into this with him now – if he wants cold toes, then he can have them. One day he will wear his shoes again!
And another thing that’s cropped up is his choice in clothing. Before, I picked out his clothes and I dressed him. But suddenly he’s trying to dress himself (which is cute, if he didn’t fall over all the time), and he’s also decided to choose his own clothes. Which often means that he won’t take his pyjamas off and goes to daycare in them. Which is fine by me, because invariably they get dirty and the staff change him.
Single parents, toddlers and support
I’m lucky because my parents live very close by, and if I need to work late then my mom can always fetch him and watch him for me. I found that to be one of the hardest things to deal with, being a single parent – the fact that my child is often shunted around between the daycare, my mom, and a babysitter, while I have to work to put food on the table.
It’s not something I would have liked for him – ideally I would like to work half-day and then be at home with him for the rest of the day. But at least I know that wherever he is, he is well loved and cared for.
So this is just some of my input, as a single mother to a toddler.
Do you have anything to share? I’d love to hear your stories!