Laura with her son, Jesse. Photographed by Annie Ridout

Work-wise, I do three things. I run Tomato Tutors – an educational company providing home tuition, group tuition, revision courses and diagnostic support for parents of children with special needs or who’ve been through a period of illness or trauma.

Secondly, I tutor; I have about 12 families I work with on a weekly basis – ranging from the age of seven through to A-Levels – mainly in maths. So I kind of pimp my brain during the week.

Lastly, I co-run an art gallery with six others called Light Eye Mind. We’re all trained artists and designers and we put on a different show every six weeks. So it’s a mixture of running a business, curating and teaching. The variety keeps me intellectually stimulated, as I get to go out and meet people.

At home, I’m a single parent. And more or less a full-time mum. I see it this way because I probably spend more time with Jesse than I do working. I just work really quickly and really intensely when I do. I’m only without him for a whole day on a Saturday, when his dad takes him. I’m not a fully single parent because his dad does see him every week and both sets of grandparents help out a lot.

There’s a lot of stigma around single parents; even if I go to a doctor’s surgery, it’s like “ooh, how do you cope?”. But now I look at couples and think how do you have a baby and a relationship? I don’t have to compromise with anyone so there’s a narrower focus, less cooks – potentially – spoiling the broth. But people still see single parents as being like Eastenders characters, or living on the edge of society.

That said, it is difficult when you look at families in the park and crave that. I find the weekdays easier than the weekends because the weekends are for family time. But I’ve connected with other single parent families. Also, I remember that not everything is as rosy as it seems for the couples I see in the park.

People still see single parents as being like Eastenders characters, or living on the edge of society

The tutoring is structured in my week – it’s four afternoons and Saturday day time – so actually, my pencilled in working days are quite short and the rest I can do either when Jesse’s napping or asleep. He also goes to a childminder for half a day once a week. But then, really, it’s from the massive help that my mum gives me that I’m able to cope. I couldn’t run any of the businesses without her.

If I worked for somebody else, it wouldn’t work. There have been so many times when Jesse’s been ill or I’ve been unwell or something’s happened and I’ve needed to be able to quickly rearrange things and I’ve got the flexibility to do that with all three occupations. I’m trying to pace the business’ growth to be in line with Jesse, so as he goes off to nursery and school I’ll begin to work more.

Having a child made me more comfortable with the idea of making money because you don’t always want to sell out but when you’ve got bills and rent to pay, and food to buy… it made me feel like I needed to stop shying away from sending out an invoice; I felt more justified in making a living.

At home, I don’t have a telly. I listen to the radio to catch up on news. I got rid of the telly when Jesse was one. I didn’t want him to be conditioned into thinking that the way to relax and unwind was to just sit in front of the box. I do let him watch cartoons on the computer but it’s more of a choice then – like putting on a film. We listen to the radio when we’re having breakfast.

As Jesse’s getting older and I have to discipline him more, it’s hard to be good cop and bad cop all in one: nurturer and also setting the rules. Sometimes that can be tough if I’m really tired and he’s playing up, as I have to be quite firm but then he might get upset and need a cuddle and I feel like I might be confusing him by being strict one minute and loving and warm the next.

It’s hard to be good cop and bad cop all in one: the nurturer and also the one setting the rules

But we have a lot of fun. I’m quite a tomboy; I can do the climbing, getting muddy, playing football – adventurous outdoor stuff – that typically maybe a dad would. We make bonfires at my parents’ house. That really de-stresses me – at the end of a busy week, to make a fire and just unwind and be outdoors.

It’s important to cut out anything that isn’t making you happy or isn’t boosting you; it’s hard enough to just survive and live so be around people who support and encourage you. Also, pack the night before for whatever’s happening: pack your baby bag; lay out your clothes so then you start the day in a more organised way.

I try to get to bed before 10pm, go outside as much as possible – to the woods, or to the park – and use the Google calendar app, which helps me to not miss any appointments. I also use Basecamp for project management stuff; it’s really easy to use.

And treat yourself to things. Look at what you’ve achieved so far and give yourself a little reward: a holiday, some pampering, whatever you enjoy. I just chuck loads of essential oils in a bath with some Epsom salts and try to switch off. Every now and again I get my nails done. It’s a nice way to show yourself some love.

Tomato Tutors are running a workshop called ‘Inner Calm for Parents and Children’ on Tuesday 26 May, 10am-12pm, at Boxpark, Shoreditch. Buy tickets here

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