Nikki: “Having a week at Harcombe House with other solo parents was amazing”

Nikki Bridges works as a wholetime and on-call firefighter with Hampshire and Isle of Wight FRS. Here, she recalls attending one of our weeks dedicated to single parents at Harcombe House…

Solo parenting is a full-time job – something Nikki is very used to as both a wholetime and on-call firefighting.

But while the prospect of juggling all three may seem overwhelming to many, Nikki Bridges says she can’t wait to return to the work she loves when her daughter Ruby, who’s almost two years old, starts nursery.

Despite that excitement, Nikki recently went through a particularly challenging few months juggling caring for her daughter and helping her mum, who is recovering from a triple bypass operation.

Knowing she needed some time out to ensure she remained feeling her best for her loved ones, she got in touch with us and we offered her a stay at Harcombe House, our centre in Devon, on a week dedicated to solo parents.

Here, she shares how both she and Ruby found it incredibly beneficial…

“Being on-call is hard when you’re a solo parent, but I do really miss it and can’t wait to go back to it as soon as Ruby’s at nursery and school,” says Nikki. “I’ve had to take a 12-month career break from it while she’s so young.

“The unpredictability of being on-call is the excitement for me, and that time is when you’re you and you’re not Mum and I think that’s important.

“If you’ve been to something traumatic and then you have to go home to your loved ones, I think it just makes you hug them that little bit tighter, and I think that can be hard to deal with mentally – even more so being a parent, it just really pulls on the heart strings more.”

She adds of her week away at Harcombe House: “This week has been… I think the first thing I felt when I arrived was peaceful and quiet.

“The family week has been amazing, we haven’t had those experiences before, Ruby’s 18 months old, so for her seeing alpacas for the first time and handling animals, she loves crafts and painting, everything’s just been fun and she’s thrown herself into it.

“I’d absolutely recommend it to other solo parents, I think from seeing the other families interact, everyone has enjoyed that quality time with their children.”

We will be holding another week dedicated to single parents on 21 October this year, as well as one in February next year. To find out more, and about other ways we could support you, visit our Family Hub here or call our Support Line on 0800 389 8820.