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Why living with your parents as a single mum is NOT a cop-out

Coping alone as a single parent is a tall order. Living with your parents might seem like a cop-out, but here's why definitely isn't | single parent, single mother, single motherhood, working mum, self-employed, self-employment, depression, anxiety, stress

One day last summer, I cracked. I’d been soldiering on alone, trying to do it all as a single parent and a solo breadwinner. I was exhausted, miserable and struggling to make financial ends meet.

One sunny July day with the prospect of school summer holidays further depleting my already meagre income, I sat at my desk with my head in my hands. I felt like running away from my life.

Instead, I went for a walk in the fields behind my house and sobbed.

Then I called my mum.

I’m lucky. For all my 45 years my mum has been the dependable rock at the centre of my life.

“Come home, darling,” she said. “You and E can live here with me. I’m in this big house by myself and you’re always welcome here.”

Truth be told she’s wanted us to live with her since we moved back to the UK from Sydney four years ago. But I’ve resisted. Resisted with all the “I can cope on my own because that’s what I’m supposed to do” stubbornness I could muster.

We’ve lived with her temporarily, between houses, but I was always been adamant that I wanted my own place. So I sold my flat in London and bought a house a few minutes away from her.

We were fine for a while, but then the cracks started to show.

I’m 45. And I like to think I’m a strong independent woman. I’m also proud. Too proud for my own good. I couldn’t possibly go and live with my mum. Could I?

What would it say about me? That I’m incapable? That I can’t stand on my own two feet? That I’ve failed at life?

What I’ve come to realise is that it says nothing of the sort.

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. But if you know where you’re heading you’ll still arrive at the same destination. Just like a GPS that adjusts your route if there’s an accident or unexpected traffic, there’s no RIGHT way.

There are no hard and fast rules dictating how you should live your life. 

Clinging on to a fantasy of what my life SHOULD be made no sense at all.

So last at the end of January, nearly nine months since the sobbing-in-the-field phone call, I packed up my beloved house and moved us into my childhood home.

It wasn’t easy. Adjusting has been tough on us all. But it no longer feels like a cop out. It feels like the smartest thing to do.

As a very wise friend of mine said:

“There’s no shame in doing what’s best for you. This is your life!! NOT someone else’s idea of what your life should be.”

Once I stopped telling myself a story about what I SHOULD do. Once I stopped placing unreasonable expectations on myself – the right path became clear.

Living with my mum isn’t my life’s dream. Becoming a single parent wasn’t my life’s dream either. But in both cases, instead of resisting the reality of my life, I’ve decided to face it head-on and turn a less than ideal situation into something wonderful.

Breaking down my resistance wasn’t easy. One of the ways I approached it was by writing a list of all the positives living with my mum would bring.

So, here are eight reasons why living with your parents makes sense if you’re a single mum.

Eight reasons why living with your parents makes sense if you're a single parent.Click To Tweet

1. To ease the financial pressure.

This is HUGE. I’m not a materialistic person but there’s no pretending money doesn’t matter.  And the lack of money starts to consume every fibre of your being – it’s a huge source of stress. If like me, you’re able to rent out your house and go and live with your parents then the extra income will be a godsend.

Not only that by sharing a house means shared bills and lower outgoings. I don’t know about you but I want to be able to enjoy life and my daughter’s childhood. ‘Stressed out about money mummy’ is the antithesis of ‘fun mummy’.

Now not only am I more relaxed, but we can go on trips away and modest holidays and treat ourselves now and again. Life’s too short. There’s no point struggling on alone if it means you can’t enjoy life.

2. To save a cash-cushion

If you don’t have one, or, like me, you’ve gone through it, then being able to build up your savings is a major advantage to living with your parents. Whether it’s because you’re self-employed and have an irregular income, or simply to have an emergency fund, a buffer of money sitting in the bank will give you enormous peace of mind.

[label type=”primary”]Related:[/label] 18 advantages of self-employment for single mums

3. To stop making decisions out of fear

With the financial pressure off you’ll be able to approach your work and what you choose to do in a more rational way. Decisions made out of fear usually turn out to the be the wrong ones. I found myself considering work and choices I knew weren’t right for me, purely because I was scared of not being able to pay the bills.

Should I go back to working full-time and commuting to London so that I could continue living in my house without worrying about money? Or should I go and live with my mum and continue to be able to work around school hours?

Faced with that choice, I knew what the answer had to be.

Now, I can use this time to calmly grow my business and this blog. I can make the right decisions about what I do and how I do it.

[label type=”primary”]Related:[/label] It’s time to say NO to working nine-to-five

4. To stop pretending to be superwoman

Earning all the money as well as doing all the parenting, housework, organising, admin and cooking is a tall order. The day I cried down the phone to my mum, I was sick and tired of doing EVERYTHING alone.

I wanted to be part of a household where I’d have another adult to share the responsibilities. Both the huge and the mundane.

My stubborn pursuit of independence had made me anxious and depressed. Where’s the sense in that?

[label type=”primary”]Related:[/label] Thriving as a single mum: 6 lessons from Lorelai Gilmore

5. For companionship

Being a single parent can be extremely lonely and socially isolating. There’s no-one to discuss your day with in the evenings, no-one to roll your eyes at when your little one is playing up, and no-one to share the funny/joyful/mini-successes with either.

I’m an introvert so crave alone time, but too much of it turned me into a recluse. When I looked closely at the way I was living I saw that out of convenience or in an effort to save money I isolated myself further and further.

I was living alone, working alone, parenting alone, exercising alone, even drinking my coffee alone.

Now if I’m on my own it’s because I choose to be.

6. So your kids get used to sharing you and learn to depend on someone else too

My daughter can be very possessive of my time and attention. She’s used to having me to herself most of the time and can be known to kick-off when I spend too long talking to someone else in her company. While fairly normal behaviour for a small child, I’m also conscious that our situation hasn’t helped her ability to share me and my attention.

As a single mother by choice, my mum is the closest my daughter will ever have to another parent. She’s the only other person in the world who finds my daughter as fascinating as do, and who is as committed to her welfare as I am. She’s also the only person I know I can rely on to help us and love us unconditionally.

Now, when I’m busy working, want a lie in, or simply need a break, my daughter has my mum to hang out with. Just this morning, I smiled to myself when I heard them both get up before me and start chattering away downstairs together. I love the relationship they have.

7. To get your life back!

Not only is the pressure off but, with a built-in babysitter, you can also have a life outside of being a mum. I’d got into a habit of saying no to so many invitations and activities because I couldn’t get out of the house in the evenings without asking my mum to come to my house and babysit.

Now, I’ve been able to start playing netball, go for a run in the mornings, pop out to the pub to meet a friend, and simply have some quiet time to read while my mum gets my daughter to help her in the garden.

8. Because it’s YOUR life.

Don’t let a ‘story’ you’re telling yourself about what your life SHOULD look like stop you from doing what’s best for you. Whatever that might be. Because, at the end of the day, your happiness and your kids’ happiness are the same thing.

I put the decision off for months. For no good reason. I had a false belief that it was a step back, an admission of defeat. But that’s bullshit.

When I started telling other people I was thinking of moving in with my mum I found out that people I knew already had their parents living with them, or practically next door.

You don’t have to cope on your own. In fact, the nuclear family I was envious of is a bullshit (that word again!) modern invention. As human beings, our natural state of being is to live in tribes. We’re all much better together, sharing life’s responsibilities.

Maybe you don’t have parents you can easily turn to for help, as I have. But I urge you to find your own tribe, your own village.

So as I’ve written this I’ve realised that it may seem like an effort to justify my own unconventional choices in life, but you know what? I don’t care what anyone else thinks. It’s MY life, and I’m no stranger to unconventional choices.

We might live with my mum for a year, we might live with her forever. What I do know is that as a result of the move I can feel the pressure, stress and worry melting away. And that can only be a good thing.

Whatever you do, do what’s right for you. It’s YOUR life and you make the rules.

Got questions? Leave a comment, let’s chat!

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m in a similar position as you are- a single mom living with her parents, and it felt such a relief to see that someone else is in the same boat as me and with the same mindset. I became a single mom before my son was born and moved home when I was 7 months pregnant. I was thinking it would be temporary (maybe 6 months, a year at the most), but here I am nearly 3 years later. Sometime in the near-ish future I’d like for us to be on our own, but for now, I love that my little one gets to have such a close and special relationship with his grandparents. Both of my parents are ill, unfortunately, so they aren’t able to baby-sit or take care of him really, but they love each other and we’ve built our own little tribe here. Having my baby be able to grow up around family is such a blessing and it’s been good for him. I dated a guy a while back who was haranguing me about not being on my own yet (he turned out to be a jerk, in case you couldn’t tell), but I’ve learned that independence doesn’t mean doing it all on your own.
    Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Oh I’m so glad my post resonated with you. I think we all have these crazy ideas of what we SHOULD be doing that are built on all these unrealistic expectations, or worries about what other people will think. To hell with that! I’m so glad you’ve found support with your family, who probably need you as much as you and your son need them. I have to say it’s just as gratifying for me to hear about others who are living with their parents too – as soon as I started talking about it they all came out of the woodwork! Good luck honey!

  2. I’m so glad I stumbled across this. After 9 years of marriage my husband decided I wasn’t his “type” and told me he wanted a divorce. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 9 years (my soon to be ex is in the army) so I haven’t had a job in 9 years. Faced with the sudden divorce and no job I’ve had to move me and my 2 kids back home with my parents. I felt like an absolute failure. I’m a grown-up living at home with mommy and daddy how pathetic is that? But this article made me feel so much better. I can focus on going back to school and creating the life I’ve always wanted for my children even if isn’t exactly how I planned it. I feel better after reading this knowing I am not alone. Plus the schools near my parents house are way better then the schools near where my ex lives so that’s something.

    1. Oh I’m so glad to hear that Katy. That’s why I wrote it – to help another mum who finds herself in the same position. I felt just as you did, that living with my mum was pathetic – but I soon realised I was the only who thought that! Five months in we are still loving living with my mum, I hope it goes well for you, and good luck with going back to school and building an amazing life! You definitely aren’t alone ? x

  3. Brill read in exactly same boat albeit was forced into it as I wasn’t coping at all. My parents weren’t thrilled to start but have been accepting of situation. We are polar opposites in our approach to live but I Thank God everyday for their love and support xx

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I was also forced to move back with my parents (at 41) as a single mum after having lived abroad for 14 years!

      During the first month we had a lot of arguments but things have calmed down now and been living with them for almost 6 months.

      Although we might not agree on everything I still have great respect for all that they do for me and my daughter.

      At first I also thought it was pathetic and embarrassing to be living with my parents in my 40s but at least for the moment this is the best thing for myself and my daughter to enable me to get back on my feet..xxx

  4. Nicola Ot says:

    Hi I am a 44 year old singke mum to a little girl with special needs. I struggle with anxiety and live with a very miserable moidy mum. She is 76 years ols and thinks I am a failure. I use to work full time but cut my hours to fit aroumd my daughter. My ex is busive and threatens me all the time. He left me qith debts and I struggle to cope. I have no childcare at all and dauggte has extra holiday on top of achool hokiday. Tents arw to hugh I cant rent a house as noone acceots part dss. Been bidding on social housing for ove a year and told will be at least another year. Right now i need a bloody miracle. Being a single parent is hard fucking work. Sorry to swear but it is. Loved yoir post an glad it works for you wish it did for me !!!

  5. I love, love, love this. As someone who quit my job, took a much lower level one and moved in with my parents (and my two daughters) in the interests of balance, I’ve been struggling with what life SHOULD look like, rather than focusing on the benefits. Thank you for a different perspective.

    1. Oh Amanda, I hear you! So glad it helped. Two years on it’s also something I have to remind myself of regularly. Especially when sharing space with my mum gets challenging, and when the control freak in me goes into overdrive! I remind myself that the benefits outweigh the downsides. However I’m conscious that as our parents gets older that balance could shift…and then well I guess we just have to cross that bridge…

  6. I know you posted this like forever ago but here I was sat down in my house wondering if there was anyone even close to the same situation as I am in right now. And one little search later I’m reading pretty much everything about myself. I’m 37 years old with a 5 year old who’s just started school. I’m self employed but my business isn’t thriving and then I get a letter through the door saying I have 2 months to move out because the landlord wants their property back. We just moved a year ago! I was wondering whether any single parents out there are living with their parents and not feeling like they should (as you say) be toughing it out and trying to make it on their own. I felt like I should be setting an example for my son, I should be able to manage on my own but he reality is I’ve been breaking for the last few years. Making all these decisions thinking they’re the best for both of us. Oh my gosh, all the positives that go with living with my mum is crazy! The thought of telling other people “I’m living with my mum again” made me cringe at first thinking what they thought of me and that somehow along the way I’d failed. No no no. I’m not failing, I’m showing my son that I finally making the right decisions and these will make me happy – happy, stress free mum is a recipe for greatness! Like you said, it came down to money for me, it was spiralling, I was thinking of getting a “normal job” so I can pay the bills or I should be doing the same as everyone else. But I honestly could no longer give a hoot about what anyone else thinks! They can go stick it! In a few weeks I’ll be packed up and back living with my parents and I can actually put my feet up for a change! Thanks you so much for your post, I can’t believe how much every word felt like I had written it. I’m smiling because I know I’m not alone xx

    1. You don’t know how happy it makes me to read this! I’m so glad my post helped. One thing I learned when we made the move to live with my mum is that the more I mentioned it to people the more people revealed to me that they also lived with a parent, near a parent or wished they did! I really hope it works out for you! Ps. Two and half years later we still live with my mum and we are actually buying a house together!

    2. Thank you so much for your transparency. I’m a divorced single mother of 4 young children whom are all under 10 years old. I have been living with my aunt (my mom’s mother) for the past 4 years and it has legitimately been a rollercoaster. Overall, I appreciate that I have family to help more so my aunt more than anything and my mom helps occasionally but I don’t like the fact that I’ve not been able to depend on my own mother but that I have to look to my aunt and my aunt is the type of person that gives but it always feels like there are kind of strings attached to it but I know nothing is perfect and I know she resents having to be the person to help our family when times get rough and I get the weight on her shoulders but she turns down my help out of pride often almost feeling like so she can have the opportunity to still claim no one is there for her etc. I feel as though she has narcissistic tendencies but again I know no one is perfect nor anyone’s situation for that matter and I know I’m challenging to deal with as well as my children at times. As of recently my only sister who was 7 years older than me died earlier this year (I just turned 34 a few days ago). Mental health illness as well as physical disability is in our family so it takes a toll on all of us when your dealing with many challenging factors causing you to depend on others more so then the average person. Reading this articles and the comments in response solidified me not feeling alone. But I do desire to be remarried but I haven’t had the greatest luck in that department dating wise. My exhusband is nonexistent aside from the court ordered child support he is forced to pay through garnishment that took years in court to fight for because he basically just neglected our children etc. and what’s even sadder is he lives about 30 minutes away from us. I’m trying not to go on and on in this comment because I know it’s already long but my mom has been in this toxic relationship/marriage with the same man for years who intentionally overspends so my mom would have to ask family to “help” cover rent, car note etc. I don’t have an example of a “strong” woman in my life and I absolutely hate getting “advice” from people in a relationship or married and tell me I’m not alone and be thankful I have my children but I didn’t intend to be a single mom, I got married and had children only to end up being a single mom and I hurt for them because I wanted the “nuclear family” what I didn’t have for myself and nor did my sister have but even she was married but her life ended tragically but I am not sure that even though her death was ruled as a suicide if it truly was. I’m still grieving the death of my marriage and now my sister and trying to find my way in life and how to navigate motherhood and embrace being single and being okay with not having a romantic partner in life. I suppose I’ll end it here but I would love to hear an update on how y’all are doing. Great blog!

  7. Owoeye toluwalope says:

    I have a similar problem I am pregnant and going to be a single mother and I have been struggling with the decision of living alone or with my parents.
    But reading your article has given me so many reasons why its reasonable for me to stay with them until I get back on my feets

    1. apologies for the slow reply Owoeye. Every now and then I have an internal struggle with living with my mum and whether it’s right for me and my daughter. But it’s gives and benefits more than it takes away. Go for it. You can always get your own place again when things get easier xx

  8. Claire Mallia says:

    That would be actually great if my mum did any of what you mentioned your mum did. I wasn’t blessed that way. Actually, my mum is an added burden on me on so many levels. The only good thing is the baby sitting bit and she doesn’t fo that well either. She’s so immersed in her routine that she keeps projecting the image that me snd my child are dome sort of burden.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Claire. I have friends whose parents haven’t been a help either, or constantly make them feel guilty. I know my daughter and I are very lucky to have the support we do from my mum but it won’t last forever – she’s in her late 70s and I think I have to start easing the burden on her! I hope it gets easier for you. Thanks for reading my blog.

  9. This post is vey reassuring thank you I have been debating giving my rented property up to move back with my parents I’m a single mum of 4 years I wanted to be able to save for our own home and pay of some debts from a previous relationship but just never really knew if it would be the right decision. It’s a big step.

  10. First let me say I am so glad that I found this blog post that you wrote! I am a single mom of 2, ages 9 and 5. I have been a single mom for the entire time. I have also always lived on my own since I was 18. I lived with my mom and stepdad for a little over a year 2 years ago then moved back out on my own again. Now after everything that has happened with covid and everything. I have made the decision to move back with my parents again after school is finished. (My mom has been asking me for months) My kids were so much happier and honestly so was I for the most part.
    I am excited to see where this journey takes us!
    Thank you so much for giving me the ease of not thinking of myself as a failure bc I’d rather not have all the stress of going at this alone when I have people who want to help me.

  11. This made me feel a bit better. I got pregnant at 18 with my daughter. Been a single mom the whole time. I’m 27 now and still living at home. Only thing with me is I’ve never been able to get a job. (Anxiety disorder, lack of babysitter, my mom watches my 2 sisters kids which in total is 8 kids and I help her.) (I do odd jobs) but nothing to have a steady income. How do you get over feeling like a failure? I feel like an awful mom for not being able to be financially stable for my child. I’m starting my first job as a substitute so I’ll be able to work during my daughters school hours. But I know its not going to pay enough. I cant get over the fact that my life is nowhere near where I’d hoped or wanted.

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