Single mum Genevieve Porritt, 33, from North London has a 23-month-old son Dylan. Here she shares how the logistics of single parenting works for her and her ex-partner.
It’s a challenge adjusting from being in a relationship to being a single parent to a toddler. Every situation is different and I know I’m very lucky as Dylan’s dad and I are on good terms and we’ve found a practical arrangement that currently works. I also have a lot of support from my parents as Dylan and I have moved in with them. I know there are more challenges ahead though as I need to be able to live independently with Dylan in the long term and find a way to support us both. I’m not yet sure how I’m going to do this.
Dylan’s dad has him every weekend. He lives in Croydon (south of London) and I’m in North London. I usually take Dylan into central London on the bus or tube on a Friday afternoon and meet him after work. Then Dylan’s dad takes him back to his flat by train. He’ll usually drive Dylan back to North London on a Sunday evening, but there is flexibility depending on what we’ve got on. For example we had a family party one Sunday so he brought Dylan back earlier. Next weekend he won’t have Dylan at all as he has plans.
The arrangement currently works. Dylan gets a bit upset when I hand him over, as most toddlers do when they know a parent is leaving, but we’ve found ways to deal with that. He’s ok once he’s realised he’s going back to daddy’s as he knows he will have a nice time. We don’t do a quick handover. We make sure the three of us spend a little time together so go for a coffee or something to eat and Dylan likes that. I think it’s important we all spend time together. I know it’s good for him and that we’re lucky to be in a place where we’re able to do this.
We have two of some pieces of equipment so we can keep one item at each house and split other things. We have two high chairs, two car seats, two cots and two toothbrushes for Dylan. We got given the duplicate pieces of equipment from people we know, which was great as we didn’t have to fork out for things twice. We split the cutlery and toys and the buggy goes between us. Dylan’s dad has a few items of clothing at his flat but I tend to pack outfits for Dylan to take.
Dylan and I FaceTime his dad two or three times a week to keep in touch. It’s usually in the morning during breakfast or in the evening before bed. Dylan’s dad and I try to be positive for Dylan’s sake.
It would be nice to live closer to each other so Dylan’s dad could see him more but we’re managing at the moment. I realise it will be more difficult when Dylan starts nursery or school and I’m working a bit more, as we’ll have less flexibility.
When Dylan’s with his dad at weekends I can get all my personal jobs and some work done. I work part-time doing admin and marketing. Then I’m more focused on Dylan when he’s with me in the week. It’s good for us both as we want to spend time together having been apart for a couple of days and I feel recharged. I miss him but I know he’s going to have fun with his dad and that he’s in safe hands. He also gets chance to spend time with his dad’s side of the family, particularly his other grandma, which is really nice for him.
Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing but the main things I’ve learnt from this are:
It’s important to have a system in place so you both know where you are but equally you need to remain flexible with each other.
Communicate well. I keep notes about what’s changed in Dylan’s routine – nap times, tricks to get him to sleep or if he suddenly doesn’t like bananas - which I can pass on to his dad, as you forget these things when handing him over.
Make sure you’re always putting your child first and just try to be nice to each other. There are obviously huge emotions involved in the breakdown of any relationship but try not to get wound up and think about the child.