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Although I’ve admitted that there are some positives to being a single parent, it also comes with its obvious downsides. I feel like a lot of celebrity moms make it seem not-so-bad (I’m looking at you, but it definitely is not ideal.

I feel like I’ve found my footing as a single mom, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hiccups and growing pains. Here are just 10 of the things I never thought about–or thought through–when I decided to separate from my daughter’s father:

1. Dating. Part of me genuinely believed I would never date again because I had a child. And what man wants a woman with a child? But there are guys out there who don’t automatically rule out dating single moms–for real! The problem, of course, is coordinating these dates. Finding a babysitter, sometimes at the absolute last minute isn’t always easy. Answering panicked phone calls from said babysitter during your date is even harder.

 2. Relationships. The complexities of getting into a relationship with someone other than your child’s father are the subject of a whole different blog post. Maybe even a book. But to sum things up, there is the question of when and how to explain the relationship to your kid; how much time your new boyfriend should spend around your child; balancing time with your boyfriend along with time with your child. It’s a never-ending juggling act and it is not easy. 

 3. Your relationship with the other parent. My ex and I initially separated on good terms, but that all went out the window when I (a) started dating something else and (b) took him to court for child support. We rarely speak now and when we do, I keep it as short as possible so that it won’t escalate. My daughter still obviously loves him very much, so having to lie to her about how “wonderful” he is is a real pain in my… 

4. Milestones. I was watching an episode of Glee and Idina Menzel’s character nailed this one on the head. She was explaining how it’s obviously hard to deal with a crying baby when there are dishes to wash, laundry to be done and no one to help. But it’s even harder, however, when your child takes his/her first steps, or says his/her first words and there is no one there to look over and celebrate with. Word. 

5. Stress. Feeling like your kid’s entire success in life rests solely on your shoulders is a quite a bit of pressure. Is she smart enough, will he get into that school, why can’t they stop sucking their thumbs? It helps to have someone who is equally invested in your kid talk you off the ledge when you feel like these little things signal total failure for your kid.

6. Alone time. Is basically non-existent. Fortunately, I really love spending time with my daughter and having her around me. But even so, there are times when I wish I just didn’t have to clean to the soundtrack of Yo Gabba Gabba in the background.

7. Money. Even millionaires complain about how expensive raising a child is, so the money factor affects all parents. But if, as single parent, you’re not receiving any financial help from the other parent, there’s even more of a strain.

8. Resentment. Full disclosure: I totally resent my daughter’s father for being able to hang out with his friends whenever, go on impromptu trips and buy whatever he wants because he isn’t responsible for the day-to-day care of our daughter. I would love to just go on vacay without tons of planning beforehand. That being said, I wouldn’t trade places with him in a heartbeat. He’s missed so much of her growing up–I just couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t there for those firsts.

9. Guilt. When I see seemingly happy families with two parents strolling down the street when it’s just my daughter and me, I always feel self-conscious. My daughter deserves that, but I will never, under any circumstances, get back together with her dad. Because I’m so sure of that, I can’t help but feel really guilty.

10. Anger. When I put my daughter on time out, she’ll scream and cry at the top of her lungs, “I want my daddy.” It is literally like a knife through my heart. “If she only knew,” I think to myself. “At least I am here, trying to make you a better person. Where is he?”

Any other single moms feel my pain? What about married moms? Does being married and raising kids come with its own challenges? Share your opinion in the comments.

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depositphotos_14168978-Cartoon-kids (1)

There is a topic in our home, that when broached, causes a massive divide. It is not money, nor jealousy or even sex.

It is babysitters.

You see, a few years ago we made a huge seachange. Leaving Sydney, we packed up our kids and made a new life for ourselves in far north coastal NSW. It was a great decision for us except for one thing, one very important thing that we left behind – the grandmothers! We left our mums behind. What were we thinking? We also left the aunties, the cousins and the friends with kids. In fact we left everybody we trusted who could possibly babysit our kids if ever we needed. What dopes!

“That’s OK, it’s just life, it won’t be forever,” says my husband (who has never had a pap smear with three spectators).

My husband is against the idea of using a babysitter. Very against. My husband also has a second job as a musician that sees him out of the home ‘jamming’ (ahem, read drinking beer in a warehouse) and gigging at pubs on the weekends. A job that means he has conversations with people that are older than three years of age who, more often than not, buy him drinks of the alcoholic variety.

I, on the other hand, work from home with the kids … in the home … with me … twenty four hours a day. All day, every day, no break ever.

So while the husband has a strong opposition to leaving the children with somebody we don’t know, I have to stop myself grabbing random teens and tempting them to my home with offers of unlimited pizza and permission to snog their “boifs” in my lounge room.

It’s fine right? Everybody does it. I mean, the husband didn’t read the Baby-sitters Club books growing up. That’s probably why he is so opposed. If he did, he’d know that those kids were, what, seven? Everybody in their whole town let them babysit their kids!

Truth be told, I’m not actually sure what I’d do if I got a break. I’ve spent so much time invested in the for-and-against argument for the cause that I’ve forgotten what I am meant to do if I actually win this battle. Can you get a babysitter for sole purpose of having a bath and shaving both legs?

Regardless, my journey has led me to some useful information, and if you are in the market for offloading leaving your children to the care of a trusted individual you might find this handy, too.

This is great advice from Ella Walsh that covers pretty much everything you need to know about getting started with a babysitter

Choosing a babysitter

As a general rule of thumb, the younger the child being cared for, the more mature you want the babysitter to be. You need to find someone who has the right amount of maturity, but who can still have fun with your child. And while there is no legal minimum age for babysitters, and young people mature at different ages, generally a young child needs a mature adult who is capable of attending to all their needs.

The older the charge, the less hands-on help they need, so the younger the babysitter can be. Generally, a sixteen year-old who can easily look after your eight year-old, will find caring for an eight month-old beyond their capabilities.

Obviously, age isn’t the only thing you need to consider when choosing a babysitter. If you are considering employing a babysitter who is unknown to you, ask for references – and then make sure that you ring and check them.

What should I ask a prospective babysitter?

While you interview any would-be babysitter, always keep in mind that they will be spending time with your children, so ultimately you’ve got to try to judge whether your child will enjoy their company – do they have a suitable temperament? Do you think your child will click with them? Are they engaging to talk to? Beyond that, you should also ask some practical questions to see if they tick all your boxes:

Do you have any references?
What is your previous experience looking after children? What ages were they?
Do you have any first aid training?
What would you do in an emergency?
What do you like best about babysitting?
What would you do if you were unsure about how to handle a situation?
What are you interested in doing with my child while I’m absent?
REMEMBER!

This is your chance to get to know your babysitter – ask all the questions you want to, even if they do seem trivial.

How much should I pay my babysitter?

Babysitting rates are usually hourly, and can vary from babysitter to babysitter. When you’re negotiating a rate, consider the following:

How many children will they be looking after?
What are the ages of the children (how much hands-on care will they be required to give)?
How long will you need to hire them for?
Will their rate increase for any time worked after midnight?
What do other families in the neighbourhood pay?
How old is your babysitter and how much experience do they have?
If your babysitter is young (and can’t drive), organise with them beforehand how they will be getting to and from your house.

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