Earlier this year I was invited to give a speech at the House of Commons (see last blog post for more on this if you haven't already), the event was put on by the charity Gingerbread which supports and campaigns for single parents.
My speech focused on my experience as a single parent throughout the pandemic as well as coming out of the pandemic and the impacts of the cost of living crisis on many of us.
“But one of the similar feelings that came up throughout and continues to is this feeling as a single parent that you were left behind, you're sort of missed off, forgotten or you're just overlooked a lot of the time. We are very much not in this together “
Pressures and expectations
I have always felt strongly about the amount of pressures and expectations put on us as women and as mothers and significantly for, single mothers.
So my passion and focus is finding ways in which we can realistically reduce the pressures and expectations put on us by others and by ourselves. I spend a long time thinking about how we can better manage the load and balance of everything more effectively and how can we live without so much stress and overwhelm as Mums.
However I think an important part of this is helping us to understand that the problem doesn’t all lie with us as individuals and the work cannot all fall to us as single mums when there are so many external things at play.
What we are experiencing is real for so many, the juggle is real, the pressure, the expectations are real, and significantly, the systems we live in that seek to oppress and benefit from doing so are very much real. The systems that are there keeping us buried, keeping us small, keeping us burnt out, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, guilty and not feeling good enough because it benefits them to do so.
In a world that is always telling us we need to be doing it all, do more, work harder and if we dont then ultimately its our fault, we are doing something wrong how do we as single parents navigate our way through all of this as well as raise our children alone, work, run businesses and stay sane?
If we take on all the responsibilities and try to do it all, we set ourselves up to fail, to not feel good enough, to give up, to make unsustainable choices. We also ignore and dismiss the huge things going on around us that exist and make this so difficult for so many people. We ignore inequality, poverty, racism, mental health, capitalism and the patriarchy - to name a few.
When we take responsibility for things and choose accountability it can be extremely empowering, it can be a catalyst for really important change because it puts you in control. Responsibility and accountability play a very important part in this but I believe change comes from collective responsibility and I want you to bare this in mind when you are doing the work, trying to make changes, trying to improve things, when you're burning out trying to do the work to make things better.
But if we take on all the responsibilities and try to do it all, we can set ourselves up to fail, to not feel good enough, to give up, to make unsustainable choices. We also ignore and dismiss the huge things going on around us that exist and make this so difficult for so many people. We ignore inequality, poverty, racism, mental health, capitalism and the patriarchy - to name a few. Creating change
With all that said, I dont want us to feel powerless (we are powerhouses) because we absolutely can create change, change for ourselves and change for others.
Through my coaching work, campaigning, media work and community on social media I am
thinking about, talking about, and sharing how we can better gain more confidence and knowledge to do the things we need to to reduce overwhelm, stress and pressure that we experience as Mums in order to live in ways we really want to.
I’m always thinking about how I can support myself as well as others to take responsibility where we can and where we want to but with enough awareness and compassion for ourselves when it comes to the things we can’t do, we can’t control, can’t change. Accepting the things that are far bigger than us that are real and still going to present us with daily challenges. And I invite you to consider this could mean for you.
I continue to campaign about the cost of living crisis, issues with universal credit, housing and other issues that disproportionately affect single parents. But with the knowing that collectively we can create meaningful changes one step at a time in our own wonderful ways, whatever that looks like. As Mums, Single Mums we deserve better. We deserve better from society, from the systems that keep us trapped and struggling and we deserve better from ourselves. We deserve the space, capacity, time and energy to be able to give ourselves more. I hope through my coaching work and campaign work I can start to give this to more women, including myself.
The full speech can be found here: https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/community/stories/everything-is-double-and-yet-we-end-up-with-half-carlys-single-parent-story/
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