Sometimes life deals you a blow which brings you to your knees. Nobody ever expects to become a single parent, I know I didn't when it happened to me six years ago. I was one of the lucky ones, with a loving, supportive family and a successful business under my belt, I rebuilt my life. Now the "girl who can't run" (that's me), is attempting a half-marathon to help other women who are having to raise children alone, to get back on their feet.
Four months ago, I had never been able to run more than 500m. In two weeks time, I'm running a half-marathon! (The Eastbourne half-marathon on the 5th of March)
I want to prove that anything is possible and help other women in the process... I would be SO grateful if you would support me, and help single-parent women out there who need the help of charities like Gingerbread to get back on their feet again and spread their wings. I would be so very grateful if you would sponsor me and share this message... Thank you for all your support.
Today, I'm blessed with strong, confident and happy children, and I've met my amazing partner, Graham. I also get to make a fantastic living doing what I love, through my business. Through this page, I now do what I can to support others going through the challenge of raising children alone.
I'd be really grateful if you would help me support these single parents get back on their feet, and spread their wings again.
The Gingerbread Interview
Please tell us a little about you and your family, including where you’re based, and the ages of your children.
Can you tell us a bit about your time as a single parent? What led up to you becoming a single parent and how did you feel when it first happened?
Family life as we’d known it was over and would never be the same. For the first few months, I literally just focused on breathing, and taking things one day at a time. I was in survival mode, and it was the fact that my children needed me to be there for them that kept me going in those most challenging early stages of coming to terms with being a single parent.
Initially, the most challenging thing about being a single parent was dealing with my children’s grief. They were heart-broken that the family as they knew it no longer existed, and they missed their Daddy. Of course, I was dealing with my own grief at the time, but it was even harder to witness my children’s pain and not be able to ‘make it all better’.
Once you've survived and prospered as a single parent, it really does give you a sense of just how strong and resourceful you can be. I also know that all of the strength, resilience and positivity I developed during my time as a single parent, meant I became a particularly strong and positive role model for my children.
First and foremost, I would say the single most important resource for any single working parent is their support network. This may be friends and family, or it may be professionals, companies or voluntary organisations, such as Gingerbread (or a combination of some or all of these). It’s very easy to feel alone, isolated and that the whole world is on your shoulders. It’s so important to be ok with asking for and accepting support and advice from others. Developing and nurturing a strong support network is key to being able to get back on your feet, to be strong for your children, to give your children the reassuring sense of security they need as they find their feet and for getting the logistical and emotional support you need as you figure out and move towards your personal vision of how you want your life to be for you and your children in the future.
I could write a book to advise and support single parents (perhaps I will one day), but my third piece of advice would be to let go of any guilt about putting your own needs along side equal importance of those of your children. I like to replace the word‘selfish’ with ‘self-ful’. Thing about it this way, your children are now 100% reliant on you for all of their parental love, needs and input. You have become their sole ‘rock’ and role model. If you compare unexpectedly becoming a single parent with being an aeroplane disaster (the emotions and sensations can often be comparable), the life-saving instructions are always the same; “put your own oxygen mask on, before attending to those of your children”, why? , because if you are not in a good, strong, resourceful position where your own essential needs are taken care of, you will not have the strength, energy or capacity to be there for your children in the way that they need you.
My family were my ‘saving grace’ during my period as a single parent. Without my family’s support I would not have been able to rebuild my life so quickly, my children wouldn’t have been able to heal and thrive as they’ve done, and I would not be where I am today. I often thought to myself “How would I have managed without the support of my family”. I have always felt very blessed to have such a loving and supportive family, but I know that not everyone is as fortunate. I wanted to support Gingerbread, as my way of ‘giving back’ by helping others who may not have a family they can turn to for support. I also believe that having an opportunity to work is so vitally important for a single parent from both a financial and emotional perspective, and Gingerbread does such wonderful work to help single parents get the support they need to get back in to the workplace.
Read Nicola's full story: http://www.ceomums.co.uk/my-story/