My seventeenth interviewee is 37-year-old Jo Blythe, an accountancy recruitment consultant from Exeter who has one son aged 2.
children when you became a single parent, and how did this come about?
son was 6 weeks old when my husband walked away from our marriage. I later
found out he had met someone else whilst I was pregnant.
found hardest as a single parent?
as part of a family unit, it took time to realise we were a family unit – just
not the one I had imagined!
– My son has always been a poor sleeper waking frequently during the night (he
still wakes once or twice per night), not having someone else to share the
night time feeds/wakings and the permanent tiredness that follows.
– Not having someone there to share each little development step, first step,
first word, etc.
– Making ends meet! Financially I’m struggling and I have never been in this
to parenting alone, in your opinion?
kisses and cuddles.
I moved to the countryside (near my parents) following the breakdown in my
marriage and so we spend far more time outside in the fresh air and at the
beach than we ever would have previously, and my son loves it.
lot more time with my parents – we lived with them for the first 18 months and
still see them for 3 days each week – my son adores them and has such a strong
bond with them.
negative judgements/stereotypes for being a single parent? If so can you share
with us what happened and how it made you feel?
handle them far better now! I have come up against the stereotype that I must
be claiming benefits as a single parent. People are often surprised that I have
saved up and bought a house and that I work full time and do not receive
relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain
for your child/ren?
communication was done via email for at least 18 months and this has developed
into being able to have short conversations now. We keep communication to only
the welfare of our son and that’s it. I have and always will put my son first
and maintained my dignity.
one Saturday a month, this will develop to overnight stays on the Saturday in
the next few months. I have never prevented contact and feel it is important
for my son to have a relationship with his father and it is my responsibility
to facilitate that until he reaches an age at which he can make his own
child cope with contact?
and as my son doesn’t remember a time we were together, to him it is normal to
live with Mummy and see Daddy each week. It’s not all been smooth sailing
though, we’ve separation anxiety issues and my son has acted up when he gets
back some weeks, he is usually more unsettled during the night after a contact
day. However as he has got older and he understands more this is decreasing.
maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount?
so I am reliant on him being honest about his earnings (ha ha). He pleaded
poverty at mediation and then turned up in a new car 2 months later! I have
contacted CMS however they have said that they are unable to help as he is a
self-employed accountant and in a nutshell I should be glad he pays anything. He
pays the equivalent to the statutory 15% of earnings under the old child
maintenance rules and this is based on his earnings at the time of our divorce.
how many hours do you work per week?
hours per week (plus extra when needed), although I have some flexibility on
working hours to fit in with childcare arrangements on different days and an
|Jo and her little man|
child when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare
and 2 days with my parents. It works well for us at the moment, I do feel
guilty that I am so reliant on my parents for child care (even though they love
spending time with their grandson!) I
couldn’t afford to send my son to nursery more than 2 days.
child/ren when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into
until I changed jobs I had 4 hours of commuting, a pressured job and broken
guilt by working? If so, why?
love to work 4 days a week but I can’t afford this so just have to make the most
of our weekends.
Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?
income so do not qualify for child/working tax credits. I feel let down, and
penalised for being a single parent. If my income was treated as a house hold
income split between 2 parents, I would receive credits.
vouchers however this is capped and is per parent. Both parents in a couple can
claim child care vouchers on their individual incomes, so I’m penalised for
being a single parent!
not reflect the high costs of child care and the father can walk away from this
financial responsibility. I am responsible for my son’s care 4 days of the
working week, without my parents help with child care I wouldn’t have been able
to return to work.
work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so,
home life. I like to make the most of my time with my son at the weekends so we
are as always out and about visiting friends and walking in the countryside and
on the beach. I don’t have an adult social life to speak of! I don’t have the
time or the finances for one, Facebook is a lifeline for me.
If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again?
felt ready really to start dating in the last few months.
for other single parents wanting to meet someone?
tips be to a newbie single parent?
yourself time to grieve over your relationship.
one day at a time, remember to be kind to yourself.
put what’s in the best interests of your child first and be the better
person/parent as you are your child’s role model.