A survival guide to being a “single parent”

A couple of weekends ago Stew was away for four days on a stag do, leaving me and Santi for the longest amount of time we’ve been alone together. Since going back to work full-time from maternity leave I only see Santi for full days on weekends, and 90 per cent of the time Stew is here to share parenting duties. I have to admit, I found it pretty tough being a “single parent” while he was away.

Bear in mind, this was a bank holiday weekend so apart from Sunday when I was working, I didn’t even have the stress of trying to get us both ready and out of the house on time each morning … and I still struggled!

Having had my first lone parent weekend, here are a few things I learned over the four days…

Make plans:

On the Friday we planned to visit family in Cardiff – and an early wake-up plus a car journey meant a well-timed nap and a happy(ish) toddler on arrival. Having family around means lots of hands to help, and lplenty of people to keep the whirlwind entertained. A birthday party got us out of the house on Saturday, and soft play with friends kept us entertained on Monday.

No plans will mean you end up driving each other crazy in the house (or at least Bing will drive you mad by the end of day one) … not ideal!

Ready to get out and about

Hide all treats: 

Our first meltdown took place at around 8pm on the Friday night, when Santi spotted a chocolate bar and I said he couldn’t have it. Cue the wrath of an exhausted toddler who refused to cooperate with a nappy change and pyjamas … ahh, peaceful bedtime.

If, like us, you have a party to attend, just prepare for the inevitable sugar rush that comes with it (I know I said to hide treats, but I’m not mean – or brave – enough to deny some cake at a birthday party). This could be as simple as leaving with a hyped-up toddler still munching on chocolate from the Easter egg hunt, or one hell bent on stealing a plastic ride-on motorbike he’d shown no interest in until five minutes before the party ended. Or both.

Party treats

Don’t forget the dog:

If you have a pet, try to remember about it during all the chaos. I forgot about Jeremy the beagle until about 8pm on Friday night (right during the meltdown) … no owner of the year award for me then. Something that couldn’t be planned for, but didn’t make the weekend any easier, was realising Jeremy had somehow figured out how to get into the fridge. We’d assumed the seal had loosened, but my detective skills deduced that the door only opened when she was in the house. The result? A beagle consuming the remainder of each tin of dog food I’d put in the fridge, two big tubs of Greek yogurt and a bowl of leftover curry … and sleeping in the shed for the last two nights!

Next time Stew goes away, it had better be to a dog-friendly hotel!

A menace? Who, me?!
A menace? Who, me?!

Don’t be pregnant:

Bit of a niche one this, but if you have an extended stint of time without your partner or husband around to take on the physical duties, try not to make it when you’re 30 weeks pregnant! It is precisely when your toddler insists on being carried around the house and suddenly weighs two tonnes. They will also randomly wake during the night, meaning that with baby kicks, leg cramps and needing to wee every couple of hours you’ll probably get as much sleep as the stag and crew.

Stock the fridge:

Stew is in charge of food shopping (because he knows I would do it online and for some reason is massively against that), and is head chef of the household. Despite having the week off before he went, I didn’t really think to plan any meals for me and Santi over the weekend … excellent work! To make sure you don’t starve, bribe parents to cook for you (quality time with the grandchild is reward enough), fill up on party food, and time soft play so it coincides with lunch … sorted! Who needs home cooked food on a bank holiday anyway?!

Stay calm:

Nothing to do with parenting, but the night your husband goes away is not the night burglars will decide to target your house. There won’t be someone creeping into your attic at 1am, the front door is still triple locked, and when your toddler a whispers “what’s that noise” at the top of the stairs, it’s far more likely to be your neighbours than a ghost. Not that any of these are real examples from our weekend, of course…


If it is an unusual occurrence to have so much time with your little one, make the most of it! As tiring as it was, we did have a lovely weekend together and it’s good to know that we can survive alone! Santi seemed to appreciate having me around instead of being in work, but kept insisting Stew was working … I made sure I corrected him with “no, daddy’s on holiday” every time he said it, and now two weeks on when Stew actually is in work Santi says “daddy’s on holiday” ha!

We survived! Although the eye bags are heavily filtered…

So that’s my survival guide to a weekend alone with your little one. It’s all tongue in cheek, of course, and I genuinely take my hat off to anyone bringing up a child on their own – it’s both physically and mentally exhausting.

What I did learn was that I love being a family of three (four soon!). The number of texts and Whatsapp messages I sent Stew with photos of Santi and little things he’d said was ridiculous. When Stew was probably horrendously hungover I woke him with a video of Santi shouting “biscuit, num num num” (you see, HIDE THE TREATS), during a rugby match he received a meal-by-meal account of what Santi had eaten that day, and when he was most likely on his way to getting merry I sent a delightful photo of Santi looking like Harry Hill wearing my glasses.

The offending biscuit

I realised that for me, a huge part of parenting is about having someone to share the little moments with, and even though Stew didn’t get home until around 2am on the Tuesday morning, I still woke up to tell him a few more little stories from the weekend.

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14 thoughts on “A survival guide to being a “single parent”

  1. I was a single parent when I had my eldest from her being tiny and it was hard work but so lovely having her all to myself. Now I have two more little ones I often wonder how I coped on my own as I rely on my partner so much when he gets in from work x

  2. It can be hard work on your own cant it. I remember hubby being posted 200 miles away for six weeks when I was 7 months pregnant and then the cheeky bugger went to Vegas with his friends right before I was due! Luckily he made it back before I gave birth

  3. Yes the famous sugar crash! One minute they are stuffing cake and running round whacking all the children and the next minute they are throwing tantrums because they ate all the cake lol!

  4. Sharing the journey of parenthood is something that makes it really special. Single parenting is also great as you can selfishly have all those moments to your self. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and there’s pros and cons for both. Looking after a toddler and being pregnant though is a whole different challenge

  5. Fi Ni Neachtain says:

    I had a similar experience when my other half went away for four days to do his exams, I cried the whole time and realised just how much he does help out, even though he works a lot too. I have a lot of respect for single mothers, I don’t think I’d be able to cope full time on my own.

  6. I think that this post needs to go viral. Single parenting is not an easy thing to do and it’s really important this type of posts to reach the most parents possible.

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