As 2016 kicks off, I’m preparing for life as a single mother.
No, don’t worry, I’m not airing my dirty laundry in public; things between my husband and I are absolutely fine. But his business is taking him to London for four months, leaving me to hold down the fort at home while he’s gone.
It’s at this point I really must take my hat off to single parents everywhere as I don’t mind admitting, I’m a little nervous.
The idea of keeping on top of all the cleaning, cooking, laundry and food shopping around a full time job and looking after our 19 month old, Imogen, on my own is a little overwhelming.
Imogen’s bedtime routine, which the three of us now have down pat, is the perfect example of how much we rely on our smooth teamwork. One cooks dinner while the other gets some quality playtime; one gives her a bath while the other cleans the kitchen and tidies away buckets of toys; we both read a bedtime story together, then one of us puts her to bed - something we alternate nightly.
For the next 14 weeks, I’ll be taking all the goes - and I can only think in astonishment of those amazing men and women out there for whom every night is ‘their’ night.
And what about those jobs where absolutely no less than four hands will do? How on earth do you dry a tiny toddler’s hair without one of you wrestling her on your knee while the other attacks with hairdryer and brush?
Hubby has given me a crash course on what bins go out on what nights, what to do if the pilot light goes out on the boiler and how to change the lightbulbs and scoop up spiders using a cup and a newspaper. But I’m not naive enough to think for a moment that these four months will give me more than a glimpse of how difficult and pressurised the life of a sole parent and breadwinner really is.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were around two million lone parents with dependent children in the UK in 2013, 92 per cent of which were women.
And do you know which area topped the entire ‘lone parent’ league table for the country? Manor Castle, right on our doorstep, where 75 per cent of all households are headed up by a lone parent.
So if I find myself moaning in the next few months, when I’m desperate for a quiet bath or standing exhausted over a sinkful of pots at 11pm, I’ll remind myself how lucky I am that, come the end of April, my teammate will be back by my side.