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Charlotte’s story: Managing financial family monsters as a single mum

19 August 2019

As part of our Family Monsters Project’s focus this summer holidays, we’ve been asking families about the everyday struggles that can surface during this period, and how they cope. Here Charlotte outlines how difficult it can be to manage during the holidays, as a stay at home mum.

The holidays are a really difficult time for me and lots of other stay-at-home mums. Because my children aren’t being fed lunch at school like during term time it costs you more to feed them at home. Obviously, you also want to get out and do things so I have to plan in advance and pack picnics for day trips, as there’s just no way I could afford to buy food while we’re out – I receive income support fortnightly but it’s always gone within the week.  

Luckily we get vouchers for milk for the kids, which are a lifesaver, but you only get so long you can use them, which isn’t ideal as it means that if for any reason you forget or miss your window to use them it costs you money.  

If we can’t get out I also find they eat more when they’re sat around the house with nothing to do but It’s hard to keep them busy as I’ve got three kids and I’m separated from my children’s father – so it often falls to me to entertain them. 

That can be tough as my eldest isn’t really sleeping very well and so she keeps getting me up early in the morning, which just drains you and means you’re behind on energy right from the start. 

“There are only so many times you can go to the library because they get bored of it!”

I’ve been trying to find cheap things to do with them but it all costs money – There are only so many times you can go to the library because they get bored of it! 

One thing that is a real lifesaver for me, however, is the local Family Action Sure Start Children’s Centre as it puts on days for older kids as well as helping parents with the younger ones… it’s a bit of a safety net and means they don’t sit in all the time.  

Occasionally with a bit of saving, I can find the money for a nice day out but it’s not a regular thing because of the cost of travel.  

I can’t afford to run a car so we’re dependent on what’s nearby, although I have managed to get out and about via public transport.  

The lack of a car is also a problem because it’s more expensive to get the shopping done as I can’t travel to cheaper supermarkets – you’d be surprised at the difference that makes. 

One strategy I do use is that I leave the kids with my sister when I go because she lives locally and then it doesn’t cost more because they’re asking for things.  

It’s so important to have family on your side. 

They help with stuff like childcare but they’re also there for emotional support – when I’m struggling or I’m feeling down they’re there, and I’m not sure what I’d do without them. 

If you have been affected by Michelle’s blog or any other parenting pressureswe’re here to provide a listening ear, answer particular parenting questions or help with guidance around more complex issues. Call, text message or email for free support. 

 0808 802 6666 

 Text: 07537 404 282 

 familyline@family-action.org.uk 

If you’ve been feeling the summer squeeze then why not take a look at our top tips for how parents can save money during the school holidays. You can also find more ideas, information and support during the summer holidays on our Family Monsters Project Website