Life & Culture

I am a single mother but I’m really determined not to be a schlump

It might be a struggle, but even when you’re in sole charge of a demanding youngster, you need to make time for self-care


Time for some self-care? (Photo: Getty Images)

When babies come along, our beauty routines tend to take a backseat, and new mums often get it in the neck for even thinking about taking some time for themselves.

Just take Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson, for example. She posted a TikTok video looking extremely glamorous, chirping: “This is what 8 weeks postpartum feels like! I just got a facial with my favourite facialist…”

The video got stitched with loads of mothers moaning about how unrealistic it all is, and claiming such content makes those who are struggling feel even worse. But in the current climate where it only seems fashionable to talk about parenthood in a negative light, I, like many others, found Watson’s approach refreshing and strangely relatable (as much as I can relate to a posh reality star from Chelsea).

Becoming a single mum made me more committed than ever to my beauty routines. I don’t have an army of nannies, a favourite facialist like Watson or a “glam squad’ following me around like fellow single mum Kim Kardashian. So no, I don’t always have the time, energy, or cash to look perfectly groomed with not a hair out of place. Some days, I feel like a million dollars, and others, Rose West.

But come what may – whether it’s dirty nappies, toddler meltdowns, or overdue bills – I’m determined not to look like a schlump when I can summon the energy. Which is why I loved Billie Piper’s character in the recent film Scoop, where she played real-life Newsnight celebrity booker Sam McAlister, (who made her name securing that now infamous car-crash interview with Prince Andrew). At the time of writing, both women are single mothers. And Piper’s portrayal of McAlister’s slick look: metallic purple lipstick, smoky eyes, and peroxide curls (teamed with an enviable designer wardrobe), to me challenged the old stereotype of single mums as downtrodden and defeated.

Single mothers still face stigma and social biases, from the job market to the dating scene. Scrolling through Hinge, you’ll see those familiar profiles saying “no baggage, please” or “no single mums or teetotallers” (because apparently sobriety is just as hideous as being a solo parent).

For many of us, looking good isn’t just about vanity – it’s a way of expressing ourselves and feeling empowered. It’s like putting on armour to face the world’s judgment and challenges.

I’m not glamorising single motherhood, it’s bloody tough and not what many of us dreamed of growing up – myself included. Many of us are navigating tricky co-parenting situations (you can only feel for Kim K, having to co-parent with Kanye West…) or robbing Peter to pay Paul, or a mixture of both. But we soldier on.

In a lot of ways I consider myself pretty lucky; I know many, many self-proclaimed “married single mothers” who shall remain nameless. While looking immaculate isn’t a requirement for motherhood, single or otherwise, it’s empowering for some of us to put self-care and beauty first, despite the hurdles we face.

And I’m not going to apologise for that.

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