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#1 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about how to create a better support system and expand the one I already have, as a single mom. My parents don't live in the country and my ex, while supportive in terms of (mostly) sticking to access arrangements with DS, and occasionally bening open to extra visits if I need it, isn't supportive in any other way - we have a pretty up and down relationship.  Most of my friends with kids are partnered, one of my neighbours occasionally swaps childcare with me for short periods but she's not very available. I have another one who has swapped childcare with me for a long time now but I no longer want to do this as her discipline methods differ wildly and I think it's not good and confusing for my child (and frustrating for me looking after a child who acts out as a result of being over controlled). She is still able to babysit on the odd occasion at night but I don't want to set up favours anymore, rather I'd like to be able to pay her but I don't have the means most of the time. I know two single mothers in the area, one lives on my road in fact, but their kids are younger. Still, I was thinking of meeting up with them more formally (they're both open) and seeing if and how we can support each other more. I've heard of single mothers who share houses so they can all get out and see boyfriends etc, but I have decided sharing a house is not for me. I've also heard of single mothers having their kids sleep over at each other's house but my son's a bit too young for that (he''s three).

 

Anyway I am curious about how you create support around yourself, not only in terms of childcare, but just support like, someone to talk to and share the challenges of being a single mother? I'm thinking about things like when you are sick and there's no one around to help. That sort of thing.

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#2 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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How timely!  I'm thinking about this as well, but from a different angle. Im pondering moving to a new area and will know not a single person. So DS 10 and I will be starting from scratch.  I will probably join a Homeschool group or 2 for us, I will have to work, DS will join a kids theater class so hopefully contacts and friends will start to form there.

Right now my support system is pretty crappy. I've lived here 12 years, and really dont have much of anything.  My roommate is underminding everything I do. I have one babysitter who is great but her own kids seem to be the bullies.

 

So things I would like to do differently next time, stay active in that homeschool group,(this is huge for me). I hope to make some new friends at my job as well, right now im hopelessly unemployed and depressed.  And I hope to get 'out and about' in the community.  Im generally a friendly person, so just by being out I tend to make friends and things grow from there.


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#3 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 12:29 PM
 
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I have a virtual support system, but very little in person.  I live about 5 hrs from my family and a plane ride away from the ex-laws (we get along very well).  My friends in town live on the opposite end of the metro -- about an hour's drive in non-rush hour traffic.  So it's just me and XH.  Thankfully, XH is nearby (for the moment) and can help with DS in a pinch.  For a real emergency, he'll make himself available.  He likes to play super-hero.  But that's about it.  Otherwise it's just me and the kitties. 

 

My mom would drive down if I really needed help and has done so twice in four years.  I don't really use babysitters, but in a pinch, I have a few people that I could call for an emergency. 

 

It's tricky.  I try to set things up to preserve my own sanity---that includes the enormous luxury of a house cleaner a couple times a month.  I rented a townhouse a block away from DS's preschool.  I work just a few miles down the road.  Streamlining helps enormously.  My house isn't ever perfect.  Our menu is monotonous.  And I have zero social life because when DS is with his dad, I tend to just sleep the whole time!  But we survive! 

 

One thing that helps me is that I made what I call my "zombie survival plan" last fall.  A list of names of people I could reasonably call on if I got laid up for an extended period of time for whatever reason.  That helped calm my what-if panic attack.  I might feel alone, but in a pinch, I do have a few people I could tap in a major crisis.

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#4 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 02:46 PM
 
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This is the one area I am so grateful for! All the friends I have made through a moms group have been amazing. I've known them for just over 4 years, met most of them the first week I moved here. One friend separated a month after I did (E) and we either see, chat or text daily. We joke that we are married as we really have got to the point where we can finish each others sentences and will order for each other in bars/ restaurants even when we are both there. (Our local bar tenders love when we come in, we just crack every one up!)

    Sadly there are also 3 other moms who seperated/ divorced over the last 3 years so we have single moms get together's where we can really chat about stuff that partnered moms don't always get.

    In this whole group three of us share the same attorney so we are kind of a fan club for him and share lots of jokes about him.

    Then there are the other single moms that I have met because of becoming a single mom who I see once in a while and can text with which is another lifeline.

     All of these friendships are kept going strong through text and facebooking etc, as well as meeting face to face and talking. We have all helped each other  and all know if something comes up one of us can and will step up and help. E and I pool food and will cook a meal once a week together. S is having a really hard time financially so I use my extra food stamps to buy her groceries when she will accept them, SM and A meet up for whine and cheese and we all go out for a laugh.

 

   I am also really lucky in the subdivision I live in. I have neighbours I can call to watch the kids for last minute things (like when I had to go into the city to apply for a EPO) and teenage kids willing to babysit for only $5 an hour.

   I know I am VERY lucky!!! I don't know how I would have delt with this if it were not for these people!

 

(Oh, then I have my long distant friends who are always good for a bitch session over text or phone, but that isn't the same as someone who can drop everything and be on my doorstep in 20 minutes or less.)

   All my family lives in a different country so it's harder for them but they are all supportive via phone.

    

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#5 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 05:13 PM
 
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I barely have one.  In the last year (a) my best friend and (b) my only relative moved several states away.  I have two other friends who would keep my kids in a pinch, but not anything regular I mean like an emergency.  My ex will also fill in in a pinch.  I'm lonely and feel isolated a lot =(

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#6 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 06:31 PM
 
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It takes time to create a support system, in addition to being very out-going and friendly.  It's so hard! 

 

My personal support system consists of lots of phone calls to my girlfriends, who live in various places around the world, and only one of which is a parent - a single parent I met here when I first started frequenting these boards. 

 

As for my "family" support system, I have two main supports when it comes to ds.  One of ds' former after school teachers, who I befriended, is a constant backup for me, she's amazing and such a wonderful part of our family.   Additionally, my ds' best friend's family has become like a 2nd family for us.  If I ever need anything, I know that either one of them would be there for us in a heartbeat.  There are also additional people (my colleagues - good thing about being a teacher, former neighbors, etc) can I call on, but they are the two main supports that are closest to us. 

 

Take in mind... I have lived here for 4 years and it has taken a long time to build what I do have now.  I have tried single parent meet-up groups and various other single parent activities, I just never found anyone I really connected with.  Plus, my single mama journey, experience and viewpoint are very different from most single mamas. 

 

Honestly, what helps now is that ds is a lot older and in school.  Plus, we moved to a kid friendly apartment complex (right behind the elementary school) in a very family dominated community.  

 

I always joke with my girlfriends that we need a Match.com for female friendships.  It is easier to find a man than it is to find a great girlfriend... there is something very sad about that. 

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#7 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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wow, hillymum, that is an amazing set up! It sounds a bit like a novel I just read, where women who are in a book club together help out with each others'kids and are so there for each other. It made me both sad to read it and hopeful that maybe I can have that one day. I agree, Holland73, that it takes time and being outgoing. The match.com thing is so true!  I am the kind of person who makes friends easily, am friendly and resourceful.

 

I just find that people have such busy lives, that the willingness may be there but the energy and time is not. For eg I have a great friend who I met when I was preg with DS, she brought me food hampers in hospital after I gave birth, we have looked after each others kids several times, etc, but she has two kids already and she's the kind of person who isn't good at replying to texts/email or answering the phone very much. So sometimes we don't speak for 2 months, then have long conversations every week for a few weeks. It's very unreliable, and I've come to accept that's just how she is. Fortunately I have two other friends, both of whom live 50 miles away but I've known for a decade, who I can call up and talk to, really talk to, about anything, and they are very there for me emotionally...neither are mothers though so there is that element of understanding missing. I see them maybe once every 2 or 3 months, and one of these friends includes me in her family Christmases etc which is great, I love her family.

 

So I'm thinking now I do actually have quite a lot going for me, but just not in my area right now, and so I do still feel like Im struggling alone a lot of the time. One of my best friends is moving away (really far away so will only see her like once or twice a year if that), she lived right up the street and we'd sometimes do family dinners together so I'll miss her a lot, but another v good friend is moving back into the area, after being away a year, which I'm really looking forward to. So it's not all bad!

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#8 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 02:32 PM
 
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My ex's mom is pretty open to taking my son but she works an 8-5 job and has an active social life. A co-worker who has become one of my closest friends will take my son any day, any time she's not working, she has two toddlers of her own who are my sons age. She's even taken him overnight. Sometimes we just go over to her house to let our kids run wild together. I have other friends who are co-workers and are more than willing to help me out in a pinch. My actual family live about 45 min away so while they are willing to help it's a little harder to do. 

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#9 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 09:27 PM
 
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childcare is my biggest issue. i have no SAHM friends or my retired friends live far away in the city. all my friends work or go to school. so while i have friends for middle of the night issue, and bitch sessions and dinners and sleepovers and weekends i have only ex for day time childcare. he used to help earlier but not anymore. sometimes i can fanagle something. for instance tomorrow dd gets off (early day) right when i start my class. now i sat and assessed who needed to be in school more - me or dd. i decided i couldnt miss school even for one day so i will pick her up early before her school finishes and then go to my class. 

 

when i was working and dd was sick i really had no problems taking time off from work. but school is a whole different matter. i have missed a few days but mostly i just stay with her if her dad cant. however dd rarely falls sick. she did her share of sickness from 2 to 4 TG. 

 

where dating and all those things are concerned ex has dd on two nights a week when i can plan something if i dont want her. 

 

however i am the provider for the other moms. we have sleepovers at usually my place or another moms place where they all go out to a club or do something and all the kids have sleepovers and i watch them (i am not interested in the kind of things those moms are so i am happy to stay with the kids and watch a movie after they go to bed). they range in age from 2 to 10. when my other friend was seriously dating her now fiance we would spend the night at her place and she would spend the night at her bfs house. i am also teh weekend babysitter for some friends. the only thing is they cant leave their kids for a few hours. it would have to be overnight. 

 

summer and winter vacation i usually have kids living with me from teh ages of 4 to 12, sometimes 4 to 6 kids. they come for a one night sleepover that extends to a week if not more. 

 

most mamas usually dont need middle of the week help. and those with sick kids we try to work around our schedules. 


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#10 of 10 Old 03-23-2011, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

childcare is my biggest issue. i have no SAHM friends or my retired friends live far away in the city. all my friends work or go to school. so while i have friends for middle of the night issue, and bitch sessions and dinners and sleepovers and weekends i have only ex for day time childcare. he used to help earlier but not anymore. sometimes i can fanagle something. for instance tomorrow dd gets off (early day) right when i start my class. now i sat and assessed who needed to be in school more - me or dd. i decided i couldnt miss school even for one day so i will pick her up early before her school finishes and then go to my class. 

 

when i was working and dd was sick i really had no problems taking time off from work. but school is a whole different matter. i have missed a few days but mostly i just stay with her if her dad cant. however dd rarely falls sick. she did her share of sickness from 2 to 4 TG. 

 

where dating and all those things are concerned ex has dd on two nights a week when i can plan something if i dont want her. 

 

however i am the provider for the other moms. we have sleepovers at usually my place or another moms place where they all go out to a club or do something and all the kids have sleepovers and i watch them (i am not interested in the kind of things those moms are so i am happy to stay with the kids and watch a movie after they go to bed). they range in age from 2 to 10. when my other friend was seriously dating her now fiance we would spend the night at her place and she would spend the night at her bfs house. i am also teh weekend babysitter for some friends. the only thing is they cant leave their kids for a few hours. it would have to be overnight. 

 

summer and winter vacation i usually have kids living with me from teh ages of 4 to 12, sometimes 4 to 6 kids. they come for a one night sleepover that extends to a week if not more. 

 

most mamas usually dont need middle of the week help. and those with sick kids we try to work around our schedules. 



Meemee, I need a friend like you in my neighbourhood! I am SO looking forward to when DS and his friends are old enough for sleepovers. You mention 2 year olds in your scenario, but he is 3 1/2 and still doesn't sleep reliably well in the early evening, so i don't feel I could foist him on anyone but family for an overnight - nor are any of my friends willing to do so (I've hinted!) My ex's sister has sometimes taken him (can count on one hand the number of times) for an overnight when I've been desperate, like when I was doing a course in another city or something, but she lives in the next town and has a very chaotic situation, also has the TV on most of the time and DS has reported watching inappropriate stuff, so I don't want to use her help much!

 

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