Being a single mum has its challenges, but I also happen to think it's pretty freaking awesome. Here are my top reasons why being a single mum is great.
1. Occasional days or weeks off.
Single mums usually get some sort of a break when their child is with their father. For me personally, it's not a lot. On average, I get a few days off a few times a year. But from speaking to a few of my partnered-up mum friends, this is A LOT more than they get.
2. Alone time.
You get alone time when the kids are in bed. You don't have to speak to anyone if you don't want to. Peace and quiet... bliss!
3. Learning how to use tools, fix things and kill bugs.
Before I was a single mum, if something needed fixing, my partner would automatically fix it. Sexist, I know, but it just sort of went without saying that that was his role. Same goes for bugs and insects. All I had to do was let out a yelp and scream out my partner's name. Not really... I actually had to beg him, while he looked at me with a combination of pity, amusement and how he thought I was completely ridiculous. But he would remove the source of danger.
Now I can (mostly) do it myself. I admit, sometimes I do run to my neighbour's house for her help, or she comes running when she hears me screaming, but I know I can do it if I have to. #girlpower.
4. Financial freedom.
Taking care of the finances on my own is actually a huge relief for me. Sure, there is less money coming in, but how I choose to spend it, or what I choose to save for, is up to me. No more hiding clothes in the wardrobe and throwing out the evidence of the shopping bag. Well that's probably actually because I can't afford to shop for myself anymore. But for me, it's more about not worrying what the other person is wasting money on. I'm a saver, and my ex is a spender. Things like having four cars between the two of us (three were his) used to frustrate me immensely.
Now I don't have to worry about what he's spending his money on, because it doesn't impact me as much.
5. Freedom in general.
Not having to compromise, doing whatever you like, eating whatever you like, seeing who you want when you want, going where you want when you want, buying what you want without explanation, not having to justify seeing friends and family and at what time intervals, having more time with friends and family, watching whatever you like on TV (Real Housewives anyone?)... the list goes on and on.
Knowing that you can do whatever you want with your life, be it study, work or travel is also amazing. What's not to love about this?
6. Having a "no bulls**t" approach to dating.
When I go on a date now and there's something I don't like about them, that's it. I won't be going on a second date. I'm also more upfront about it. I went on a date with a real d*** a few months ago. Red flags were flying. He asked me if we were going on a second date, and I straight out said: "Absolutely not." In the past, I probably would have felt bad, and danced around the issue for a while, and not been upfront. Heck, I probably would have gone on a second date with the guy. Not now. I have very strict boundaries because frankly, I don't have time to waste on people I don't like. I also LOVE being single, so it would have to be someone pretty bloody amazing for me to consider dating them.
7. The house looks the same when you come back from work.
For me this is not a huge issue, as my ex was really neat. He was even tidier than me. I'd simply have to put my glass down after taking a sip of water, and it would be swept away and washed up. This also drove me nuts. There's tidy, and then there's over-the-top tidy. But from speaking to a lot of my single mum friends, they love the fact that when they get home, the house is just as they left it.
8. There is less housework.
With one fewer person in the house, there is less housework. Less washing, less dishes, and less cleaning up after people. Apparently. As for me, I have lost a cleaner.
9. Being happy.
I have never been happier since becoming a single mum. It wasn't easy at first, and it has been a long road to finding my feet. The legal issues don't help, but when you get through it, life is great! I came from a very unhealthy relationship, so I'm much happier now.
10. Your children being happy.
There is a massive misconception that children will be unhappy if they are not part of a traditional family unit. If you are part of a loving and healthy relationship, then that is truly great. But unfortunately not everyone is so lucky. It is not great or healthy for children to be in an environment that is toxic. I really do believe that children feed off your mood and energy levels, so if you are unhappy, they will be too. Correspondingly, if you're happy, they will be too.
When my partner and I split up, my daughter and I moved out a couple of months later. The relief I felt was extraordinary. I don't think it was a coincidence that my daughter had her first proper laugh the day after we temporarily moved in with a childhood friend of mine. I'm talking flat-out hysterical laughter. It was amazing.
11. You are emotionally strong.
Going through a separation or divorce is one of the hardest things to go through in life. I think this is even harder if there are children involved. So going through something like this brings out the strength you didn't even know you had. Once you see it, and experience it, you are unstoppable.
12. Finding yourself again.
Often in an unhealthy relationship you lose who you are. I know I felt like I lost myself. I lost my confidence, my self-esteem, my voice, my soul. Now I have my sense of self-worth back, my confidence back, and my identity back. I know that being myself is good enough. No one is destroying my soul, and I will not let anyone destroy it ever again.
13. Being able to parent the way you want to.
Relationship difficulties after having children is extremely common. There is no preparation on how having children will impact your relationship. All the preparation is on labour and child birth, and if you've been to a course, maybe breastfeeding and learning how to put a nappy on. Even the strongest relationships struggle. My relationship was already hanging by a thread so we didn't have much hope.
Our clash on parenting styles was a constant source of arguments. He believed that I spoiled our daughter too much because I picked her up and comforted her when she cried. He thought she was looking for attention, I thought (know) that newborns don't cry for attention. He didn't want her sleeping in our room. I did. It was a relief that after we split up, I could comfort my baby as much as she needed. And now I can parent my daughter in the way that I want to.
14. Making new friends.
After my ex and I separated, I made it my mission to surround myself with other single mums, for my own sanity. I needed to debrief with women who had gone through the same thing, particularly those with babies. I am a big believer in making single mum friends if you are a single mum. I made so many lovely friends, and I couldn't imagine my life now without these brave and strong women in it.
15. Dating and having fun.
You get to date and have fun, and feel those butterflies that many haven't felt in years. And for some, it's knowing that your best love is yet to come.
16. The bond I have with my daughter.
The bond I have with my daughter is so special to me. I feel we would not have had the bond that we have if my relationship with her father hadn't ended. And that's also because I've been able to parent her the way that I want to. We are a team.
17. Being a great role model for your children.
I want my daughter to know that you only live once, and that she should never ever settle for a relationship that is unhealthy and where she is unhappy. We all deserve happiness, and to be treated with respect. While my ex is a great father, he wasn't a great partner to me, and I don't want her to think that behaviour is acceptable in a relationship.
While we can't control the behaviour and actions of others, we can choose how we respond and if we will stand for it. I will not stand for it, and my daughter has seen that. I want to show her that she only deserves the best, and that anyone can have a great life through hard work and also their choices.