The best and worst bits of be­ing a sin­gle parent Jo Mid­dle­ton, aka @slum­mys­in­gle­mummy, takes a tonguein-cheek look at the ben­e­fits of solo par­ent­ing, in­clud­ing eat­ing ce­real for tea. LISA SALMON finds out more

Gloucestershire Echo - - FAMILY MATTERS -

BE­ING a parent is hard even if you have a part­ner to share the load with – but the UK’S 1.8 mil­lion sin­gle par­ents don’t have that luxury, which means be­ing a solo mum or dad is ex­tra tricky.

Blog­ger Jo Mid­dle­ton, aka @slum­mys­in­gle­mummy, agrees that sin­gle par­ent­ing can be tough, but the mum-of-two, whose can­did and laugh-out-loud so­cial me­dia plat­forms have more than 118,000 fol­low­ers, is keen to stress it’s re­ally not all bad.

Jo, 41, be­gan her blog in 2009, when her daugh­ters Bee and Belle were seven and 14, and has just writ­ten her first novel Play­groups & Pros­ecco (Ebury Press, £7.99).

She says: “Be­ing a sin­gle parent is hard work, there’s no get­ting away from it.

“It can feel relentless, both in a prac­ti­cal way and emo­tion­ally too.

“Hav­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for all the fam­ily de­ci­sion mak­ing, with­out some­one to com­pare notes with, can feel like a huge amount of pres­sure, and let’s not even start on the fact that you al­ways have to be the one to take out the bins.

“Like most sit­u­a­tions in life, though, be­ing a sin­gle parent is es­sen­tially what you make it. Yes it can be lonely some­times, and a bit sad when you get home and lit­er­ally no one, apart from the cats, cares about how your day went.

“But if you pack all that away at the back of your head, there are ac­tu­ally quite a lot of ben­e­fits to be­ing the sole parent.”

Here the cheer­ful sin­gle­ton high­lights eight of the best things about be­ing a sin­gle parent – and one of the worst.

1 NO AR­GU­MENTS OVER WHO DOES THE HOUSE­WORK

BE­CAUSE it’s al­ways you. This might sound like a raw deal, but there’s some­thing quite nice about know­ing it’s your mess and your re­spon­si­bil­ity, and not seething with re­sent­ment ev­ery time you see a wet towel aban­doned on the bed­room floor.

Plus, when you’re the only grown-up you can just employ a cleaner or pay a child to do it and not have to feel bad about not pulling your weight.

2 YOU CAN CHOOSE WHICH COP TO BE

GOOD cop? Bad cop? It’s to­tally up to you.

You get to say ex­actly how your chil­dren are par­ented and no one can com­plain if one week that means all de­vices are switched off by 6pm for whole­some fam­ily game nights and the next week you all slob about on In­sta­gram un­til bedtime.

Sure, con­sis­tency is bet­ter in the long-term, but you can come to that con­clu­sion your­self.

3 YOU GET THE WHOLE BED TO YOUR­SELF

HA! Who are you kid­ding? You know that chil­dren can sniff out space in a bed from a mile away, don’t you?

Still, at least there’s one less full-sized adult in it, which means even if you do find your­self with vis­i­tors in the mid­dle of the night, you’ll still get a de­cent share of the du­vet.

4 YOU CAN EAT CE­RE­ALS FOR TEA

AND no one raises their eye­brows and says, ‘Se­ri­ously, what are we ac­tu­ally hav­ing for din­ner?’ be­cause chil­dren think ce­re­als are a treat.

5 YOU SPEND LESS ON FOOD SHOP­PING

SEE the point above about ce­re­als.

Ac­tu­ally, you spend less on pretty much ev­ery­thing, ex­cept per­haps wine, but ev­ery­one knows wine is an in­vest­ment pur­chase.

OK, more of an in­vest­ment if you don’t drink it.

6 YOU HAVE MORE TIME FOR FRIENDS

YOU might not go out as much, but you can have friends over in the evening, or to stay for week­ends, and drink cheap white wine with­out anyone com­plain­ing you’re be­ing noisy, or telling you a 40-year-old woman do­ing drunk videos for In­sta­gram sto­ries is pa­thetic.

It is not. It’s cool. Ev­ery­one knows that.

7 YOU HAVE FULL CON­TROL OVER FI­NANCES

THIS one’s a bit like the house­work – if you spend the week’s food bud­get on a par­tic­u­larly friendly look­ing house­plant then it’s OK be­cause you only have your­self to blame and nobody to say un­help­ful things like, “But you know the chil­dren need school shoes”.

It’s true fi­nances might be harder to man­age on one income, but it can of­ten feel eas­ier to stay in con­trol when you don’t have con­flict­ing spend­ing habits to worry about.”

8 YOU CHOOSE WHICH TV SHOWS YOU WATCH

EV­ERY night! It’s bliss. You don’t have to pre­tend to be in­ter­ested in sport or his­tory or cur­rent af­fairs or bor­ing things like that, you can just watch back-to-back Mar­ried at First Sight USA if you want and no one will judge.

But make the most of this when the kids are young, as it won’t be long be­fore they’ll ruin your evenings by turn­ing into teenagers and in­sist­ing on watch­ing vam­pire-based box sets un­til you give in and go to bed first.

AND ONE OF THE WORST THINGS ABOUT BE­ING A SIN­GLE PARENT...

NO ONE brings you a cup of tea in bed in the morn­ing. Never ever.

If you want tea you have to ac­tu­ally get out of bed and make it, which to­tally ru­ins the fun. Go­ing back to bed with a cup of tea is not the same at all. This may seem like a lit­tle thing, but hon­estly, isn’t tea in bed the best thing about be­ing in a re­la­tion­ship? Yes there’s the added perks of a dual income and shared parental re­spon­si­bil­ity, but you just can’t beat a cup of tea in bed, ide­ally with a side or­der of Jaffa Cakes. For­tu­nately this one is eas­ily over­come with a stash of Jaffa Cakes in your bed­side ta­ble and a strate­gi­cally placed ther­mos, so per­haps be­ing a sin­gle parent isn’t so bad af­ter all.

Blog­ger Jo Mid­dle­ton and her younger daugh­ter Belle

Jo’s book, Play­groups & Pros­ecco

Hav­ing the bed to your­self is one perk of be­ing a sin­gle parent – if you can keep the kids out that is

A cup of tea in bed just isn’t the same if you’ve had to make it your­self

Who doesn’t love a bowl of ce­real?

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