Single Parent Spotlight: Sam Jay

9th May 2015
The aim of these interviews is to show how AMAZING us working single parents are. 
I want to highlight how hard, but also how rewarding being a working single parent is, and to hear how other people in my position handle the tougher times, in the hopes I learn how to be the best parent I can be! 
I’m sick of seeing the bad press single parents get in the media, because some single parents have taken the choice to live off benefits, or even worse, have children in order to get benefits. We all seem to get tarred with the same negative brush!

My 22nd interviewee is 43-year-old Sam Jay, a community arts development worker from Northern Ireland who has an 8-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.

How old were your
children when you became a single parent, and how did this come about?

6 and 4. My husband
left me for a work colleague.

What things have you
found hardest as a single parent?

The loneliness and
the amount of domestic work. Fitting in homework and dinners, and the lack of
time to have my own interests and to see friends.

What are the benefits
to parenting alone, in your opinion?

I get to spend more
quality time with my children and I also get to make all the decisions about
discipline, house stuff and activities.

Have you faced any
negative judgements/stereotypes for being a single parent? 

I frequently get male “friends” advising me
about how to discipline my children, like because I’m a single parent my
children are not going to be properly disciplined.

What sort of
relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain
for your children?

With regards to the
children my ex and I are able to have reasonably decent communication but it
rarely goes beyond basic practicalities. We are unable to spend any joint time
with the children due to bad feeling between us.

How much contact does the father have?

Two nights a week.

How do your
children cope with contact?

They enjoy seeing
their dad but often come home over-excited and emotional.

Does he pay
maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount?

Yes, he pays me a
little more than CSA. We came to this agreement jointly.

What’s your job, and
how many hours do you work per week?

I’m a community arts
development officer for a local authority and I work 28 hours a week.

Who looks after your
children when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare

I have a child minder
and as my ex works shifts he can also cover some of my work hours. I’m happy
with the current arrangement.

How old were your
children when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into

1 year with each
child. This was before my separation so it wasn’t too difficult to adjust.

Have you ever felt
guilt by working? If so, why?

Sometimes because my
daughter says she doesn’t want to go to the child-minder.

What’s your view on
Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare?

My child-minder is
cheap and extremely flexible. I only pay for the hours they are there so I’m
very lucky. I’m happy with tax credits.

What is your work/home/social
life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how?

I get two nights a
week but these are always different as my ex works shifts so it is impossible
to organise anything regular and I find that very difficult. My children are
still young so I am just putting my energy into them and getting out and about
with them. It took me a couple of years to accept my situation but now that I
have accepted that this is the way it is, I’m determined to make the best of

Are you dating again?
If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again?

I do have a boyfriend
who I met a year after my ex and I split. He was someone I’d known for a long
time but lost contact with so I think it helped a lot that I already knew him.
I was in a state of shock and panic for the first year after my ex left and I
dated a lot when the kids were at their dad’s. I met people from online dating
sites but this was really unhealthy (desperate) behaviour and I certainly
wouldn’t recommend it.

What tips do you have
for other single parents wanting to meet someone?

Get out with your
kids, there are plenty of single parents out there. Get happy within yourself,
be open and friendly and I think it shouldn’t be too hard to meet someone. I
personally wouldn’t recommend internet dating although it did ease the
loneliness for me, however I think just getting out to as many things as
possible, dressing to impress and being happy is the best way to meet people.

What would your top 3
tips be to a newbie single parent?

Don’t panic, you will
be ok. It’s maybe not the life you would have chosen, but it can still be a
good life, maybe even a better life.
Allow yourself time
to grieve and then pick yourself up and start making the most of things.

Seek help, support
groups, friends, antidepressants, whatever is going to make you feel better.
Eat and sleep well and don’t self-medicate with alcohol as it will make you
feel worse in the long run. 

If you want to be interviewed for the next Single Parent Spotlight, contact me on the tab at the top of the page!

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