Dad dot info
DAD.info form. Ask questions, get answers
DAD.info | Fatherhood | Interviews | Guy:single dad

Guy:single dad

mattz118

mattz118

Nine years ago, Guy Richards became a single dad to Jamie, who’s now ten. After the initial shock and despair, he quickly got to grips with the situation and learned how to cope with his new role. Guy spoke with Dad Info to share his hints, tips and experiences, and to raise awareness of the realities of being a single dad.

I was at work one day when the phone rang. It was a social worker, asking me to collect my 14-month-old son immediately from my estranged (now ex-) wife “or we will have to take legal action”, as he put it. I had nothing – no baby clothes, food or cot. Nothing.

Once I had got over the initial panic, the first thing I had to do was sort out the finances and buy in all the essentials.

Money Section

What you’ll need

Children obviously need a constant supply of:

  • (clean!) clothes
  • (possibly) nappies
  • Food
  • one-off purchases such as a buggy and a child or booster seat for the car
  • books and toys
  • that wondrous cure for almost all ills, Calpol.   

Childcare and working

And, if you’re working full-time, you’re probably going to need a childminder. Not only can childminders provide vital female contact for your child, they are an invaluable source of advice and feedback. They also give your child a welcome opportunity to develop social skills with other children.

Childminding fees are likely to be your single largest expense so, if you do decide to take one on, bear in mind that some are better than others. Follow your instinct when choosing one, and don’t be afraid to change minders if you’re not happy. A list of registered minders can be obtained from your council’s social services department.

It can be hugely stressful caring for a child after a full day at work. You end up missing out on a lot of their development and there is little time for bonding. But the answer isn’t to give up work! Doing so can isolate you from the wider world and the money’s rubbish. Anyway, if you register unemployed you have to return to work once your child turns 11 or you lose your benefits.

I found having a part-time job worked better for me, and it helped me to keep my foot in the door work-wise.

Childcare: What are the options?

Financial help

If you work 16-30 hours a week you’ll qualify for Working Tax Credit and help with childcare fees. Also, remember to apply for Child Benefit, which is a very useful £70 or so a month.

If you’re single due to a bereavement, you may be also be able to claim Widowed Parent’s Allowance, among other things. Visit www.direct.gov.uk for further information.

Financial help from the UK government

Coping on your own

However, finances are just one issue. If I’m honest, being a single dad can be lonely and exhausting, not least because you’re also trying to be a mum. So you’re likely to need emotional support at times.

I’m lucky, I have family nearby. But if you don’t then look first to friends who are also parents. Try looking on the internet for local support groups too. And a girlfriend would be nice. 

Local support for dads: what is there?  

Be warned though. Friends may not understand your needs and might end up resenting your reliance on them. Single-dad support networks are at best sparse and, even if you do find a girlfriend, she will understandably want her share of attention, possibly at times when you don’t feel like giving it. Oh, and your child might resent having to share you with a stranger.

Not very encouraging, I know, but I know I’m not alone in this experience. So my advice is be independent and keep relationships platonic, at least for the time being.

In a society that seems to favour single mums over dads, you really are on your own – for now. 

How dads affect kids

Related entries

Four Dads Row the Atlantic to Save Lives

Four Dads Row the Atlantic to Save Lives

Four dads are taking on the incredible feat of rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise funds for premature birth research. The team have named themselves Elijah’s Star, in memory of baby Elijah who was born premature and lived for only 37 days. They hope to...

How I raised a Pro-Sportsman

How I raised a Pro-Sportsman

Dad.info sat down with Essex Cricket legend Don Topley and his son English Cricketer, Reece Topley to talk sport. What's their family secret? Reece Topley, currently struggling again with injury might miss the next few weeks playing for England, but while he is...

The Anorexia Wars

The Anorexia Wars

It came out of the blue completely. Emily, my daughter came home from school and admitted to my wife she had been making herself sick. Anorexia often afflicts high achieving young people with a sense of perfectionism. When we look back at that summer of 2012 Emily’s...

Latest entries

The Top 10 Hidden Gem Days Out for Half Term

The Top 10 Hidden Gem Days Out for Half Term

Looking for something different to do this half term? Legal and General have found the top 10 UK days out that are less well-known, with excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. Log Heights, Outdoor Adventure, Harrogate Based in the grounds of Ripley Castle, Log Heights is a...

Can I watch Squid Game with my kids?

Can I watch Squid Game with my kids?

The news is buzzing with stories of children reenacting scenes from the hit Netflix show Squid Game. Kids as young as 6 have seen enough of the violent series to be 'playing' it on the playground, and there are reports of children being hurt. The story of the series,...

Pin It on Pinterest