Help for Single Parents

single parent adviceI started this blog to share my experiences as a single parent, something I initially found very isolating. When you’re a single parent, finding help for single parents can be incredibly hard to come by. When I first became a single mum, a friend told me to find myself a single-mum-best-friend. It’s probably one of the best pieces of advice, but where should I start? I was going through a divorce – my most important connection had failed – the idea of making new connections felt impossible. I wish I had known then how to connect with the single parenting community and what an invaluable support they are. Many of us are in the middle of some serious crap when we become single parents – divorce, abuse, infidelity, death. At such moments, although Google might feel like a God send, it can also overwhelm.

With that in mind, I’ve put together this completely non-expert post on help for single parents. If you happen to come across this and you’re a single parent (especially a new one) then please try some of the links below, you might be pleasantly surprised. If you know a single parent please share this –  it might just be a life saver. These links are mainly UK based, if you have suggestions for others in your country, please do share them in the comments below.

Online Communities 
An online community is available anytime, from the comfort of your own home – perfect for those with young children and few childcare options. If, like me, you’ve never really engaged in facebook groups, don’t be put off. A simple search for ‘single parents’, on facebook comes up with lots of closed groups that provide support. The benefit of these is that only other members can see your posts so there’s a level of privacy from your facebook friends. The largest active one in the UK is Single Parents Support, another big one is Single Parents, but there are other more specific ones such as Single Black Parents. Keep looking till you find one you click with.

Divorced Moms is an online community which pretty much does what it says on the tin. It has an American focus but lots of the topics have global relevance.

Face to Face Groups
When I first engaged with single parent groups I was gob smacked that there were people who just got it – got me! Gingerbread has a network of volunteer-led local groups across the UK. These are a great way to meet people in similar situations and if there isn’t one near you, they will help you set one up. Joining a group has changed my weekends from being lonely and depressing to having options of what to do. Some of the single parent facebook groups also arrange meet-ups too, like Single Parents Support. Widowed and Young are the only UK based organisation to support people under 50 who have lost their partner – they arrange social events and provide practical support.
Practical Advice (debt, housing etc) 
Gingerbread provides support and advice for single parents, they have a helpline and an online hub for advice and information on separation. This factsheet is useful if you need legal advice. Citizens Advice are a really good starting place for support with benefits, work rights, legal rights etc etc. Housing support is generally only available through Shelter or your local councilSingle Parent Support also has a website that provides information for single parents. One Parent Families is a great resource for those based in Scotland. One Family has a helpline and advice for people in Ireland. Only Mums and Only Dads both provide advice on issues such as debt, relationships and legal matters. Many of the single parent facebook groups also have very knowledgeable admins and members who can be of great assistance. The University Mum has written a great post for young single mums who are looking to study at university.
Child Maintenance 
Child maintenance is one of the biggest issues facing single parents in the UK. Over £4 billion child maintenance is owed in the UK. This calculator can help you work out payments. Although the system is far from perfect, if you aren’t able to make direct agreements with your child’s non-resident parent, then Child Maintenance Options can explain the different payment options. If the non-resident parent is outside the UK you can claim through REMO.
One to One Support 
Organisations generally don’t provide one to one support for single parents. However, if you’re in a particularly vulnerable situation then there are groups that can assist. For example, if you’re pregnant and single there may be local organisations such as bump buddies. If you have, or are, experiencing domestic abuse then Women’s Aid, or your local domestic abuse service, can assist. The Freedom Programme is recommended by many survivors of domestic abuse as a great way to break the cycle of abuse. 
Losing a Partner

Losing a partner and becoming a single parent can be an incredibly challenging time. If you are in this situation then Widowed and Young are a lovely supportive organisation group that organise social events and run a peer-support network.

Single Parent Blogs 
Blogs can be a great way to share single parent experiences and their social media channels often provide a supportive non-judgemental community. I’ve highlighted a few single parent blogs below and given you an idea of the main areas they cover – I hope I have done them justice.
  • Daydreams of a Mum gives a very real insight into the long-term impact of domestic abuse, especially emotional abuse.
  • Single Mum Speaks is a quirky blog about the escapades of a single mum by choice and her young son.
  • Single Swan writes about relationship breakdown and co-parenting challenges.
  • Mama unexpected talks candidly about the challenges of being a single mum to two children, one of who has special needs.
  • Not Exactly What It Says On The Ring talks about life as a single mum following an extramarital affair.
  • More Than Toast writes about dating as a single mum (amongst other things!)
  • Inside Martyn’s Thoughts gives a single dad perspective on single parenting.
  • Dilan and Me is written by a single mum who’s following gentle parenting methods with her toddler.
  • Ellamental Mama gives a no holds barred account of divorce, lone parenting and mental health whilst trying to raise a feminist son (it had to feature somewhere – right!).

There are loads more single parent blogs out there – I hope you find one that gives you your own corner of the web to commiserate and celebrate life as a single parent.

Arts and Culture 
“Arts and culture”, I hear you cry, “but I’m a single parent, I don’t have time for such luxuries!” When we see ourselves in other people’s words it helps us understand ourselves – it’s really not a luxury. With that in mind, if you are ever lucky enough to see Muvvahood, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a one woman show that profiles six single mum stories. I was feeling emotional the day I saw it and it had me in tears; we hear the real stories of single parents so rarely and it’s incredibly moving when we do. This is a list of critically acclaimed films featuring single parents and this list is specifically of single dad films. I’ve recently started watching the Gilmore Girls on Netflix, admittedly it brushes over the harder parts of single parenting but it’s perfect for a bit of feelgood fun.

If you’re looking for books for your child which can help you talk about single parenting and broach some of the challenging topics that often go with lone parenthood, this is a great list. This is another a good list of books for 0-10 year olds on divorce/separation and single parenting. And one more list of books for modern families which includes topics such as divorce.

Single Parent Holidays 
Now to the best bit – holidays! For some single parents, holidaying alone with children can be too daunting to even contemplate. I am a firm believer in the power of travel, so if there’s a way to make that easier for single parents I’m all for it. The first time I went away with other single parents was a camping holiday. It was a revelation to be surrounded by people in similar situations. Suddenly I didn’t feel ostracized; these strangers understood me better than my own family.
Below are a few holidaying sites I’ve come across (I should point out, I’m in no way being compensated for including any of these groups and I’ve not been away with most of them so please do YOUR own research before booking a holiday with any of them). I know money can be tight but there are a lot of options out there which cater for varied budgets, both in the UK and overseas.

There’s also the option of going it alone. I’ve done it a fair bit with my little one and although it’s challenging, it’s also pretty amazing. This post links to lots of solo parent travel stories if you’re looking for some inspiration. There is also a Single Parent Travel Club on facebook where you can join forces and arrange to travel together – sounds like a perfect solution to me.

“I Can’t Cope” 
Many of us go through difficult times. I always think it’s not about what challenges you experience, but who you have to support you through them that really counts. Being a single parent, especially in the early days, can often be isolating. If you’re reading this and thinking, but I just can’t cope, please seek help. It took me over two years of struggling (to put it mildly) before I went to my doctor. I had been trying to do everything on my own, including ‘getting better’. I had a plan and I was putting it into action – counselling, new job, the works. It wasn’t enough though. Sometimes when your life is crumbling around you it’s hard to breathe let alone stop and take stock to work out what to do. If you’re really struggling your doctor can help you get time off work if you need it, they can refer you for talking therapies and other support services, and (if appropriate) provide medical support.

If you’re a single parent I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s an unbelievably hard, but amazing, job. Single parenting has benefits for us as well as our children, so ignore the scapegoating rubbish we so often hear and remember you’re great!

What’s your best tip for single parents? Do you have a favourite blog/support group? Share them here or on my facebook and I’ll try to incorporate them.

You can follow my blog on facebook. Just go to my page here and give me a like to stay up to date with my latest posts.  And follow me on twitter @EllamentalMama

Diary of An Imperfect Mum

7 comments on “Help for Single Parents

  1. Thanks so much for including my post on solo parent travel! 🙂

  2. What a great, supportive post! While I’m not a single parent, I do appreciate all the time and effort you put into creating this network of resources for those who need it. Good for you for asking for help when you needed it. Life isn’t easy. I wish you the best!

    • Hopefully it’s a useful resource, lots of single parents – including me – wish there’d been something like this when we became single parents. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Single Parenting is very complicated as the relationship is mostly emotional by nature. There are many more needs to be meted in physical and emotional level between the parent and the child.

    • Oh absolutely. Hopefully through finding a supportive single parenting community we can support each other with all those emotional challenges.

  4. What an amazingly brilliant post!!! I just love this. SO much advice packed into a well written and powerful post. Blogging is amazing – just this of all of the people that this will help! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing post with us at #EatSleepBlogRT ❤️

    • Thanks 🙂 Glad you liked it, really hope it does help others, and you’re soooo right. Blogging is fab – and can be a total life saver!

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