Studying with three girls

Posted 3 October 2017

Janine is bringing up her three daughters on her own. She has been a single mum for two years.

Single parents are not lazy! How could anyone think we are? It is a tiring job with no room for relaxation. The coalition government doesn’t seem to like single parents. Take the child benefit cuts, for instance. A single parent will lose child benefit if she earns over £44,000 per year but a couple could earn up to £88,000 and still keep it.

Lots of people seem to think that a single mum on benefits is a scrounger and probably serving her kids chicken nuggets for tea every night. But a stay-at-home wife is respected, considered wholesome and valued in our society. She’s not seen as lazy, even though she doesn’t work!

Stereotyped

I had no choice but to be a single mum and for this I am stereotyped and considered feckless. I am educating myself and it is a tough road doing a degree with three kids to look after. I live on my student loan plus child tax credit and child benefit. The bills do tend to build up. But I believe there is more value in love than possessions or holidays and that’s what I teach my girls.

I have three daughters, I am very proud of my confident and resilient children. Ellen is seven. She’s bright, picks things up quickly, is sociable, and keeps her room pristine. Leyna, 5, is confident and caring, she is untidy and a creative free spirit, who loves to paint. She was a premature baby and has special needs. Helping with her homework takes an hour each night and with lots of praise and encouragement she is doing well. Neve is three. Her personality is a mix of her sisters’ traits, she is outgoing and can be stubborn. The girls fight a lot. Sometimes it can feel chaotic at home.

School run

The daily routine is wake up, get me and the girls ready, do the school run, I go to college or my work placement and study in the evenings. I’ve been a single parent for nearly two years. I am only just back on speaking terms with the girls’ father. There was no contact for a year. The children were affected by the end of my marriage, of course. It was hard coping with my own emotions at the same time. But I always put my kids first.