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What being a single mum looks like for me

07 March 2024

Mother’s Day presents a valuable opportunity to recognise the amazing women who nurture us throughout our lives.  But sometimes we can romanticise the job when, particularly for single mothers, motherhood also means sacrifice, challenge and loss. Here mum Natalee discusses the joys and struggles she’s experienced as a working single mother of two.   

It’s challenging being a single mother right now. For example, it’s very hard on me because I used to do proper 12-hour shifts as a care assistant, but I can’t anymore because of the lack of support. I’ve found other work in education, but there’s not the financial gains of my previous role and, of course, the cost of living is crippling all of our pockets.  

Everything is going up in cost and last year I was literally choosing between bills and feeding my children.

Everything is going up in cost and last year I was literally choosing between bills and feeding my children. Bills will always be there, but your children need food. If they want to call me and stress me out let them call me – but I’m not going to let my children starve. 

Starting over in a new country

I didn’t expect this as I’ve got a master’s degree in business management and I moved here from Jamaica to make a better life for myself. It was difficult starting over, but I’ve always worked, and I’m still studying now – although it’s hard to make that happen. 

I begin work in the morning at 7.30am, then I finish and get to college at 9.15am then, when it finishes, I go back and work from 3.30pm. Thankfully, my seven-year-old daughter goes to the after-school club, so I can sometimes work extra hours before I pick her up, and my son is at the nursery nearby until 6.30pm. It’s just a blessing from God that everything works for me.  

Even so, I’ve had to depend on food banks before and I’ve thought “how did I get to this stage?”. It affects you mentally to have a job but for it to be not working out… It doesn’t feel fair.  

My parents are still in Jamaica, and I miss them; especially my mum, and sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I just ring her and cry. Not having help and support is the most difficult part. I had the perfect example the other day, as I was having chest pains and the hospital sent an ambulance out, but I couldn’t go to the hospital because there was no one to look after the kids.

A choice between me and the kids

It’s always a choice between me and the kids, they’re always hard decisions.

It’s always a choice between me and the kids, they’re always hard decisions and I’ll always make the decision that benefits them. 

My eldest is amazing though and she does help with her younger brother, who was recently diagnosed with autism, which is difficult both mentally and physically as, although you’ve been through processes like weaning and potty training before, it’s different.  

Because of those additional challenges I decided to change my studies and work in education to develop my skills in that area. It’s not a sacrifice though as I love working with children and I love being a mum.

I was making a joke to my daughter saying that because I hadn’t been alone in so long, I was going to go on holiday to Jamaica and not take anyone with me… but that’s just us having fun – I still enjoy motherhood. Somebody asked me the other day if I would have another child and I said “not at this moment” as things are difficult, and I wouldn’t want to bring children into this world that I can’t support.  

But I feel satisfied when, at work, I feel like I help a child to overcome their difficult times, whether they’re academic or social.  I like the fact that they feel I’m safe, that they can come to me, and we can talk about how they’re feeling.  

This grant helped fund a future

When Family Action helped me with a grant for education it was amazing.

When Family Action helped me with a grant for education it was amazing as I was able to afford things for my studies that I couldn’t afford earlier on. 

For example, I wanted a computer so bad as I’d done all the work on my phone and it was so difficult, and I was also able to get the books and the resources for my studies. You just can’t understand the way I felt. I was so grateful. 

I had a dark year last year and I didn’t even realise I was depressed until I did talking therapy. During discussions I realised that everything was focused on my kids, and I didn’t do anything for myself.  

I realised that I hadn’t been taking care of myself…I thought I was, but I wasn’t. It was like I was in a dark space on my own, and I had to open a window to look through.  

So I started gradually doing one or two things for me; Things I wanted to do, not going to a park with the kids or a children’s party.  Seeing friends and having adult conversations really helped and getting out was good, even if we were taking the kids to a shopping centre and browsing without spending anything.  

Having what it takes to help other children

With the course and the career prospects it brings it feels like I’ve found some of the pieces of the puzzle that have been missing. I’ve got my plans all ready! I’ve got it written down, and I’ve got my vision boards.

I’m looking forward to moulding the minds of our young children in future.

When I went to my nursery placement for college, I told them that one day I will own my own nursery. They said they believed me, but that they hoped I opened it somewhere else where I wasn’t competition!  

It’s good to know I have what it takes as I’ve enjoyed doing my assignments, I’m flying through, and I’m looking forward to moulding the minds of our young children in future. 

I made very good friends on the course and, from the moment I started, I met two ladies where we created a bond, and we’re like sisters now. Every day we’ll message each other and ask how we’re doing and try and organise time together. They’re single mothers too and we’re there for each other… It’s important. 


We’re here for all the mums, carers, guardians and mother figures. Whatever your experience – whether you have a difficult relationship with your mum, have grown up without knowing them or are mourning the loss of your mum and need support, reach out to us at FamilyLine.


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