Life as an air hostess

Posted 2 October 2017

Single mum Rikki juggles looking after her two-year-old daughter Ava with frequent flying in her job as an air hostess.

I’ve been a single parent from day one, as my daughter’s father and I separated when I was six months pregnant. My friends ask how I manage but I don’t know any different, this is what I’m used to. There are days when I think life doesn’t need to be so difficult. Like yesterday, when my two-year-old daughter Ava said no to everything, all day. She’s strong minded, knows what she wants. She has loads of energy and sometimes I just want to chill. But nine times out of ten we have a good time together.

I’m an air hostess, so I’ve got another life when I’m flying and can be totally my own person. I’m off to India tomorrow. I enjoy work once I get there but before I leave it’s a panic and I worry about my daughter. My family are used to me. “Ava’s fine,” they say.

Childcare plans

Work rosters are planned a month ahead and vary but could be two weeks on, two weeks off. During the two weeks on, I won’t be flying the whole time and can get home during some evenings. I have to work weekends, nights, early mornings and ash clouds and other unexpected events mean rosters change and my childcare plans go out the window.

I couldn’t manage without my dad and my aunt.
My dad will take Ava to and from nursery and can look after her at weekends. My aunt’s got school-age kids and Ava joins in with them.

Ava goes to nursery two afternoons a week when I’m not working, I couldn’t afford for her to be in nursery any more than that. So mostly it’s full on, the two of us, one to one.

Today I’m watching her have fun in a soft play area, she loves it and running around is wearing her out. She would stay here all day and gets upset when she hears the word ‘home.’

Single parent

Being ill is the worst thing about being a single parent. I had a bad cold and it hit me hard. I just wanted to lie in bed and sleep or lie on the couch and watch TV. But I can’t do that.

I’d been with Ava’s dad for four years when he walked away from us. He pays maintenance and is becoming more involved, having Ava for weekends when he can, he’s in the army and has just been in Afghanistan for seven months. The situation is reasonably amicable between us. My parents separated when I was 13, so I want to keep things as OK as possible between me and Ava’s dad, for her sake.

I’m the full-time parent so I do the discipline. When Ava’s dad swans in with presents and takes her swimming, it can be annoying – he gets to do the fun stuff and I’m left with the difficult bits. But then again I’m the one who hears her first words and sees her first steps.