I’m not in the same situation as you. But mine is 2 1/2 and it’s been just us for most of her life…. seeing dad daytimes (sporadic) from 11months to 18months, for almost a year I have work 21 hours a week and apart from work have no down time at all….a lie, one night over the last year, but I had to come home and parent after a night out.
it is hard and sometimes I resent the parent that is doing whatever he likes, when he likes!! Especially on those god awful days that never seem to end, with tantrums and pure hell 😉 but then I remember how much he’s missing!
what I do is try and include her in my old activities (although always shorter lived) walk the dog in the beach, go to the pub she has crisps and I have a beer, go for breakfast…. sometimes it is an epic fail! With tantrums galore and I wish the ground would swallow me up and I revert to that feeling if resenting the parent that walked away, but at least I feel like I’m getting out there and being me, even if it is for 30minutes, every now and then.
My ds lives with me, his dad does maybe 30 nights a year, I work full time and have no family backup at all.
The early years were tough, you need help. Even just to get your hair cut or go for a run.
Is there a lonely neighbour who would babysit? Another single mum who will swap babysitting time. Or a local nanny agency that you could book a regular weekly slot? I rang the local college that has a professional childcare course, and offered regular work and a reference to one of their seniors.
I did like Lulu, and took ds with me to lunch or to galleries etc but that’s almost impossible with two.
I’m thinking about volunteering activities that your older child could get involved with at the weekends or hobbies? Also look on council site for kids clubs during the holidays. Swimming Brownies or scouts? Do you have a garden?, what about an organic veg patch?
Thankfully I have only one to look after and have to pay 4 childcare when it gets a bit too much.
Walking and scrumping is also fun. We collected pine cones and made a Christmss wreath for work last year. In the summer we made jam and gave that away too. Look on line and see if you can motivate them and get out