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?
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*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.