Being a single parent

For some people, the prospect of becoming a single parent can feel overwhelming. Most people don’t plan to parent alone, but life doesn’t always turn out as we expect and circumstances change. Families come in all shapes and sizes, single parent families included, with single parents being mothers, fathers, and sometimes grandparents.

Single parent families – some facts and figures:

  • There are around two million single parents in the UK, making up a quarter of families with dependent children
  • Fewer than two per cent of single parents are teenagers
  • Five per cent of single parents are in work
  • The majority of single parents don’t receive child maintenance payments
  • 47 per cent of children in single parent families live in relative poverty, around twice the risk of relative poverty faced by children in couple families (24 per cent)

Life in a single parent household, though common, can at times be stressful for both the adult and the children within the family. There may be unrealistic expectations that the family will function like a two-parent family, and sometimes people feel something is wrong when it doesn’t work this way.

When you’re a single parent, the practical problems of juggling a family routine, running a home, working and sorting out finances, as well as perhaps coping with a family breakdown and the loss of a partner, can be a lot to deal with. As a result, many single parents push their feelings and emotions to the bottom of the list of priorities.

Five top tips for single parents:

  1. When relatives and friends offer to help, take them up on it! Ask them to babysit or do nursery drop offs/pick ups.
  2. If you have older children, encourage them to help out around the house with jobs on a regular basis – don’t feel you have to do everything.
  3. Organise and plan things like meal preparation in advance wherever possible so you avoid last minute stress.
  4. Seek advice on your finances and find out what support you are entitled to.
  5. Try to carve out some time for yourself, you do deserve it, and you will feel better because of it.

Further support

If you’re finding things hard, do talk to your public health nurse (health visitor). They will be able to signpost you to help and support. These organisations can also provide advice:

Gingerbread – a charity which campaigns for and supports single parents. They have a freephone advice line: 0808 802 0925

Single Parents – a parenting site for single parent families

The Fatherhood Institute

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Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

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