Custody and juggling work for a single dad

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    I’m divorced and separated for almost 5 years now and have a court order to see my daughter overnight twice per week. I pay the maintenance on time every time, I take her on holiday every year sometimes twice a year and we are very close. She is 11 years old and very bright.

    My ex wife is constantly drunk and my daughter complains to me often in tears. 6 months ago in drink my ex wife set fire to the rug in the lounge of her home whilst in drink and smoke damage was everywhere, I got Social Services involved and they are working with us, but nothing is improving, it’s the same mum’s drunk again teary conversations.

    I’m seriously considering going back to court for full custody, but I work shifts, nights and days. I could speak to the boss and get a day job but then I’d be out the house earlier before school or I’d be at work when she leaves.  Also school holidays would be difficult to arrange.

    My mother lives 100 miles away and my father lives not far but he is 72.

    How do single dad’s cope with a work and life balance around school times???

    Any advice would be great.

    Thank you for reading.

    #36357 Report


    I’m a single mum, work full time and have an 11yo son.  I have no family support at all.  I found the trick is to work close to home/school. Remove as much commute time as possible.

    I put my son and his friend onto the school bus (we’re rural) at 7.50, then go to work, arrive about 8.15.  The other boy’s mum collects them from the bus at 4.30 and I collect my son from hers at 5.20.  Between us, and occasionally her partner, we manage to cover most eventualities.

    Are there other children who go to the same school, you could organise the same sort of agreement? Ask your daughter, she should know.  Or perhaps one of her friend’s mum wants to earn some extra cash by babysitting for an hour or two each afternoon.  Or if the bus stop is walking distance, your daughter is old enough to get herself there and back. At least by the time you’ve got agreement, she will be.

    Some councils run holiday clubs that take children up to age 14. Son & friend go to holiday club some of Easter and Summer hols plus occasional half terms, mixed with time with me or with other mum.

    It can feel a bit haphazard, but I’ve managed for 8 years so far without disaster.  Forward planning is essential. Are there any other single dads at the school?  What can the school suggest? You won’t be the only one.





    #36366 Report


    Hi Johnnyboy

    Yep its hard to work out the life/work balance for sure. As a single dad to 3 children 13,6 and 4  im guessing youd need a sympathetic employer who can arrange your holidays around the childrens.  Thats hard in itself due to children getting so much time off!  I now work just part time half past 9 till half past 2 . Would that kind of arrangement work for you? Ive only been a single dad for a few months so im still finding my feet hence why i come onto gingerbread as its full of tips and help. If you worked full time could you afford a childminder to help out?  I havent used one yet but sooner or later im sure i will need to. Council websites list the ones you want. Hopefull things work out for you buddy. Take care

    #36447 Report


    This doesn’t sound good. You need to think about your daughter’s safety and the impact on your her mental health. She might benefit from Al-anon meetings for children.

    I didn’t leave my alcoholic ex-husband (who looked after our child since he was unable to hold a job down) until my son started school due to the childcare issue. Then I got an Au Pair who would take my son to school and pick him up at 3.30. That way I held down a city job leaving the house at 7.45, returning at 7.30/8 pm. It was the cheapest childcare option by far and my only option. There are breakfast clubs and after school clubs too at many schools, but if you have an au pair,  you could continue working shifts. And let’s face it, your daughter soon won’t need round the clock childcare.

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