A couple of weeks ago, before the BritMums Live blogging conference began, I took part in a focus group organised by a market research company.  I was part of a small group of bloggers, most of whom I know and respect, and was really looking forward to a lively debate.

 

We had been asked beforehand to choose one of two questions to discuss at the meeting and to bring an item or a photo that represented what we had chosen to talk about.

 

I had imagined it to be all rather light-hearted and strangely, all six of us chose the same question:

 

“What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing parents nowadays?

 

Christ.  Where to begin?!  Life is FULL of challenges isn’t it, now more than ever and I really didn’t know if I was ready to share what challenges I personally face with people who I know within the blogging community.  These challenges are my own private demons.  They’re the things that I struggle with, particularly now as a single mum, and, well, it’s all rather personal isn’t it.

 

I volunteered to share my photo first.   Not for brownie points, but because I could feel the emotion bubbling under the surface and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold it in for.

 

I had taken the photo the day before the conference.  I realised I had no money to enable me to even get to London.  Literally, I had nothing in my purse.  So I resorted to emptying the old Quality Street tin full of coins – the place where any loose shrapnel goes.

 

I spent nearly two hours in the kitchen, coins strewn all over a tea towel,  separating, counting, praying I’d have enough.  I used to enjoy counting coins as a child, building towers out of 1/2p pieces until they all toppled over and I would happily start all over again.  As an adult, however, it’s just plain depressing when you have to scrape together the price of a train ticket from a pile of coppers.

 

My kids both came in and asked me what I was doing and I lied to them and just pretended I was tidying up – that the tin was full so it was about time I took it to the bank.  They don’t need to know, but I felt bad about lying to them.

 

Money is THE biggest challenge I’m facing right now as a parent.  From the uncertainty hanging over my house, to how to buy the cheapest food possible yet make it healthy, to not being able to pay for Dexter’s artwork he made at school because it cost £7.  It’s so stressful.

 

The debate continued and we discussed child poverty, body image, mother’s guilt and the economic climate.  We were lucky enough to be joined by Guardian journalist, Zoe Williams, who used many of our comments to form the basis of her article about bloggers that ran in the Guardian that Saturday.

 

I kept it together … just about.   I wanted to share my thoughts on this subject so that other people who are struggling like me know that they’re not alone.  That doesn’t help to pay the bills, I know that, but sometimes it helps just to talk about your struggles.  That’s been a hard lesson for me to learn and I now know that bottling it all up just makes things worse.

 

What is YOUR biggest challenge as a parent?

 

 

 

 

What is your biggest challenge as a parent?  Please leave a comment and you could win a £25 Amazon voucher.

Giveaway ends on Thursday 12th July at midnight.

 

*Disclaimer – I attended a focus group at Brit Mums Live and got paid to attend and to write a post on parenting challenges.  However my thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

 

 

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.

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12 Comments

  1. This is quite brave to write about money like this… At the moment, touch wood, we are both working hard and we’re OK but I know what it feels like to be going down the back of the sofa and in old pockets to try and find some dinner money.

    I actually think answering this question is quite tricky… for me parenting is a series of challenges, I can’t necessarily pick out one that is the biggest. They all add up to make it hard work- just when you think you’re over one hurdle something else will come along and you just keep going… maybe that means relentlessness is my answer. The sheer relentlessness of it all!!

    x

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You make such a good point. It’s the RELENTLESSNESS of it all! The never-endingness …. *big sigh*
      Hope you keep on the up lady x

  2. I think money is the biggest challenge for most parents. One of the things I’m finding challenging at the moment is continuing with breast feeding. Friends and family almost seem to be horrified that I am still breast feeding my neary 8 month old son. They continually ask if I am STILL feeding him myself, and I’ll be honest, I am starting to feel a little ashamed to say yes. I’m not one of those pro-breast feeding, breast is best, women. I am just a normal mum feeding my baby the way that is best and convenient for us both. But now I’m starting to question myself about whether I’m doing it for him or me? Am I still feeding him because I’m too lazy to sterilise bottles? Because I’m too tight with money to pay for formula when what I have is free?
    Deep down I know I’m doing the right thing and that the people that question me have either never breast fed (my mum) or gave up after a week or two. I just need to be strong and continue to do what is right for my little family and with the support of my other half, I will try to face this challenge head on.

    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. I give massive props to anyone who breastfeeds, for however long, because I just couldn’t do it! Suffocated the poor buggers 🙂 It would be nice if everyone was supportive of everything we did … but that’s not life eh. You know in your heart what’s right – sod everyone else. Kinda my motto for life 🙂 x

  3. my biggest challenge as a parent at the moment is to let go! I had the breastfeeding challenge, the potty training, the starting pre-school, starting school, going away from home for the first time, the challenges to my authority and everything else. then it hits you, they are grown up and ready to go. First they go to University and then they leave home. I hate it. I hate the fact that I don’t know what they are doing all the time, I hate the fact that I am not needed anymore, I hate the fact that we did such a good job that they are independent, capable, and fantastic human beans (even if I do say so myself!) and they are making their own way in the world.
    Parenting has many challenges, I am sort of looking forward to the next one. Heaven only knows what that will be, I have given up trying to second guess what it might be!!

    1. Thanks for commenting. I think that last sentence is key. Perhaps the key is to just go with the flow and deal with each challenge as we face it. There will ALWAYS be challenges. Whether it’s when our kids are babies, toddlers or young adults. There’ll always be ‘something’ right?! 🙂

  4. My biggest problem is the attitude of a 14 year old boy. Don’t get me wrong I have 2 daughters both now in their 20’s, however they didn’t seem to be as attitudey as my son is.
    Sit down to discuss something and he’s immediately ranting on about always being picked on, being ordered to do “everything” (I made the mistake of asking him to wash up, once…).
    He just seems to get in more and more trouble at school as well, I get a daily phone call from them along the lines of “he’s done this, done that, blown the chemistry lab up…” actually the latter was me when I was at school, it was an accident, I honestly didn’t mean to blow anything up.

    The thing that makes it even harder is my husband is his step dad, so gets the the “you aren’t my dad” line thrown in his face daily, it gets my hubby down, it gets me down. His biological dad didn’t even stay around whilst I was pregnant, my hubby is the only father figure he has ever had.

    Money is a worry for me as well, yes I work, but only 2 nights a week at a residential home cos of hubbys health (severe epileptic) I honestly can’t do more hours.

    So a stroppy teen demanding everything, worrying about hubby and trying to make ends meet, it’s just a bit of a mare at the moment.

    It will get better though, I can make my son join the army at 16, 2 more years…. 😉

    To Amanda, I breastfed allll of mine till they were a year old, it was easier, it was best for me and them and I did not give a hoot what anyone else thought or said, you know what’s best so carry on until YOU decide to give up!

    masses of love as ever
    Raven xo

    1. Hey – thanks for commenting. My eldest was raised in a ‘blended’ family, and I know how hard it is. They do grow out of it! I promise you. My eldest was a little … challenging … and now he’s matured, he’s a really lovely young man. It will get better. Pwomise x

  5. My biggest challenge is keeping our 4 yr old healthy whist also trying to get some weight on her as she was born with heart problems so had 3 life saving ops in her first year, she is still very small for her age (still in mainly 18-24 month old clothes) . Due to her heart problems it’s a huge challenge to get the weight on her as her heart works harder than healthy people’s hearts so she gains so slowly.

  6. as my lads become men, i worry about their opinions towards girls and sex. i need them to realise they must respect girls without making them think that they need to commit when they are young. i know we talk a lot about girls and making sure they’re safe, but it’s just the same for boys.

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