As of June 2020, the ABS identified one million single parent families in Australia who either work or study in conjunction to raising children.
Tamara Lee is a single mother of two who has been studying for 10 years, and will complete her design degree in four weeks’ time.
She says it’s been great to share the experience with her children.
“The fun thing about doing a design degree is that I get to do a lot of art,” she says.
“It’s a fun degree to do with children because you can incorporate them, and it’s awesome because I’ve got into tie dying and things they can do as well, we’ve been making our own t-shirts and jumpers, it’s fun to do together.”
As a younger mum, Ms Lee would often receive criticism for overcommitting herself, however she believes the worst criticism comes from within.
“When I was younger, people would say I’m taking on too much, and you still get the same thing now but I think only you know how much you can do,” she says.
“I think it’s more of an inner criticism, sometimes your torn between two very important things like you need to pass a unit but your kids need you so I think it’s more of an inner criticism of what to do in that moment.
“One thing I do know is it’s all about what you put in is what you get out, I think that’s the main lesson to it all.”
Founder of Beanstalk Mums, a community support group for single mothers, Lucy Good says this struggle is normal and is often best to be shared with your children.
She speaks about the importance of being authentic with children about emotions and how it will help them grow.
Despite a positive mentality, Ms Lee says managing the load can be taxing at times.
“Last year I probably didn’t go to bed before 1, but that was studying full-time and I pretty much didn’t sleep until 1 sometimes two because I was just so busy it was so chaotic,” she says.
“Juggling is hard but if you can prioritise with what you have and work out the best times to do things then it’s a better situation.”
She says the hardest part is trying to be the perfect person, which isn’t a realistic ideal.
Peta Bell is the single mother of two autistic children.
Apart from the assistance of friends and family, she says the best way she has found to cope is through a solid routine.
“My whole life is revolved around routine, routine, routine and I’m at the point now where I do the same thing every day to just keep everything flowing,” she says.
“You just do it, there’s no other choice. I always tell my kids it’s the 3 of us, we are a family and we have to make it work.”