We've had a rough few days here. A lot of tanting, wailing, crying, fighting, food-refusal, bedtime shenanigans and other things that will be familiar to parents of toddlers.
People often comment on what a handful the boys must be and say that they don't know how I do it, and usually I wave them away with a 'pshaw' and some comment about how it's not as hard as you'd think. But some days, if I'm honest, it's exactly as hard as you'd think!
Whatever any of my married friends say light-heartedly (I hope!) about the level of involvement (or lack of it) of their other halves, I remain convinced that just the knowledge that eventually another adult will walk through the door gives some comfort that the single parent doesn't have. It's tiring when it's all on you - not just the household things and the kids, but the DIY, the bills, the garden, car maintenance, being the provider, and making all of the decisions, decisions, decisions without even a sounding board!
And so the last few days have got me to thinking about the strategies I use to cope with crazy days, and I've come to the realisation (again!) that I'm so blessed and fortunate to have friends (thank you all!), a support network and the ability and money to build in a variety of coping strategies that wouldn't be available to some single mums.
This week alone I have diffused the tension by going to a friend's house at short notice to let my kids play with hers, by visiting a local play centre, and by simply going out somewhere (anywhere!) in the car. We have a wide variety of toys in the house, so I can rotate them when the boys are getting bored, and if the weather is ever nice, we have a garden complete with a nifty slide.
So many of these kindnesses and conveniences are taken for granted. If I imagine myself as a young, inexperienced single mother, unable to drive and living on benefits in a small flat, I wonder how I would manage to get through the days. Chances are that all my friends would be living it up, I'd be short of cash to pay for play centres, toys and other amusements and with no car I'd be reduced to walking them in the pram in the rain. No garden to play in, no tumble dryer to get the washing dry and every time I need to pick up a few groceries it would be a major operation on public transport.
It's no wonder that without a supportive family, some mums struggle to cope.