There comes a time when single parents think about new relationships. Some discard the thought immediately and enjoy the freedom of being single again, some reach the place where they’re ready to start afresh. What happens when children are involved and can it work ‘blending’ a family? Here’s Mandy’s story:
How did you become a single parent?
I became a single parent in August 2008. After a 14 year relationship with Charlotte’s dad things really hadn’t been good for about 5 years. After councilling with Relate and a brief break early in 2008 and hitting 40 I knew I couldn’t see us together in the future so decided to make the final decision to break up for the being it of all of us. I was single for 5 years.
How long were you a single parent?
I was a single parent for 5 years.
What did you find the hardest part of being a single parent?
The hardest part of being a single parent was defiantly the financial side of things. I have a mortgage and work part time but earn a decent wage. This stopped me from getting working tax credit and I only qualified for a little child tax credit and child benefit and I wasn’t getting much from Charlotte’s dad. So it all fell on my shoulders. I want the best for Charlotte and didn’t want her to lose out just because I’d made the decision to be single. My wages went in the bills got paid and there wasn’t an awful lot left which meant if something broke I relied on a loan from my mum or credit card.
What has been the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding defiantly seeing char grow up in a happy household with little stress. She’s turning into a well mannered popular girl that also sees that being happy is more important than a 2.4 traditional family. We made the most of what we have and had fun. With the support of friends and finding Single With Kids along the way, we’ve had a ball over the last 6 years.
How did you meet your new partner?
I met Andy though plenty of fish. Id had a few dates which didn’t work out, met a few trolls along the way. Wasn’t really looking for love but thought it would be nice to have some male company now and again, to meet someone that would make me feel special. It was early in the year, wasn’t getting out much so decided to go on pof to waste a bit of time. After 3 dates with 3 different men and is decided I really could t be bothered. My time was to precious to waste spending an evening with another misfit lol. Andy and I had been chatting for a few weeks so thought that’s it one last date and I’m giving it a miss. Summer was coming and camping season was ahead. Lol went with no high hopes and met him in a pub half way between chesterfield and derby and there was an amazing spark. Walked away after an hour ( only ever had hour dates lol) and felt amazing. Butterflies and a silly grin. I knew it was going to be something special. Kept my distance for a while but then realised life is too short to hold back just incase I got hurt ….. So glad I let go and let him into my life.
How did you bring the two families together?
We took it slow ….. Both got a daughter each Charlotte was 11 and Andys daughter Ellie 7. We both agreed from very early that if the girls hated each other or either child really didn’t like the other person then we would walk away. Hard but the girls were most important. Char realised id met someone from the amount of texts pinging they and she was the one that asked to meet him. I was warey we’d only been seeing each other about a month but to her it was important that she liked him. Met on neutral ground at a park , Andy and his daughter. Little picnic and a football. Had a lovely afternoon , everyone liked each other and we then met regularly with the girls.
We were both lucky ….. We’d both been single and living alone for about the same amount of time ( other than the short relationship I had the previous year). The ex’s have moved on and everything is quite amicable so we only had to concentrate on what we wanted without any hassell from outside. We spent more and more time together as a couple and a family and things built from there.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to do the same?
To bring two families together I think is going at the children’s pace rather than the adults. It’s strange for them suddenly sharing mum or dad. Just or to make sure they still get the one on one time they’ve always had.