Call it fate, destiny, whatever – sometimes the best things in life happen by accident. I was scrolling through the Instagram Stories of Frolo, the soon-to-be-launched single parent community app, when I saw that founder Zoe Desmond had bigged up the Alright For A Mum podcast. At this point I was six weeks into single motherhood and yet to hear from someone in the same situation. So when I listened to Remi Sadé and Carrie Anne Roberts preach the truth about life as a single mum, it felt like a gift. I remember going in hard with the co-parenting episode and feeling like two women who I had never met before had simultaneously read my mind.
Remi and Carrie gave my life a shape and a clarity again. More importantly, they gave me hope – something I thought was lost forever. So it was with great joy that I got to chat to Alright For A Mum's founders about rewriting the single mum narrative, building a support network, and dating vs a high-end vibrator.
When you can raise your kids solo and have mind-blowing orgasms by yourself, it makes you think very carefully about who to invest your time in.
Carrie and Remi’s meet cute reads like something out of a Nora Ephron movie. "I was in the audience [at a Mothers Meeting networking event] and Carrie was on the panel," Remi explains. "I was asking for suggestions of topics to cover on my old blog 'booksbabyandback' and Carrie said that she’d come on and talk about dating as a single mum." At this point, Carrie had been a single mum for around three years. "After a few months, I became a single mum too and Carrie and I would speak daily," Remi continues. "We’d talk about the good and bad of single parenting, all the firsts and the countless-yet-quick succession of changes, too. Those times definitely cemented our friendship." This chance connection grew into a sisterhood that makes me proud to be female. It is said that the firmest friendships are formed in mutual adversity and this certainly rings true for Carrie and Remi; it was out of their own adversity that they created something magical. Whether they’re taking the piss out of each other or finishing each other’s sentences, there's a lot of love there.
So how did they transition from BFFs to co-hosts?
"Alright For A Mum was originally an idea I had for a website of articles from a broad range of single parents (not just mums) of all ages, circumstances and lifestyles, at all points in their lives," explains Carrie. "I very quickly realised that if I don’t have time to sit down and read every day then other single parents probably wouldn’t either. I figured a podcast would be an easier way for people to access the same content – at home, in the car, on the Tube, etc. At this point, Remi had just become a single mum and I knew I had to get her on board! Since that point we’ve been recording whenever we get a chance. Often on one of our sofas after the babies have gone to bed." And it works; they are at their best when it’s obvious they’ve had a glass of wine before delving deep on a particular single-mum-focused topic. You feel like you’re in the room with them, hogging the Pringles.
Remi and Carrie recognise that as a single parent, building a strong support network – both online and off – is crucial. "I started to build my community without even realising it," says Carrie. "I became a single mum when my son was 3 months old. I was 24 and had no friends with babies, so I found comfort in, and sought advice from, the community on Instagram. I’d be sending DMs to women all over the world, at all hours of the day and night, talking about everything from breastfeeding to loneliness. Long before #ads and algorithms, Instagram was a place you could easily and organically find a community."
It's something that I identify with hugely. I connected with so many single mums on Instagram and could not have gotten through my first six months without the women I met to make me laugh, send me a virtual hug or tell me I look fit in my latest selfie. I even slid into Carrie’s DMs to ask what was reasonable in terms of a childcare split with my ex. However, not everyone is comfortable being public with their relationship struggles. Where I found it therapeutic, Remi found the opposite.
"I kept my split quite private for a while," she tells me. It was only through writing that Remi found herself able to confront her situation. "I wrote an open letter to myself addressing my new relationship status. Then it was as though the floodgates had opened," she explains. "Interestingly, a few other mums I knew were 'privately single' too." Despite years of progress, the stigma attached to, and judgement felt by single mothers is still ever-present.
If there’s nobody to help, you find that you can become creative with your timekeeping. Single mums are incredibly resourceful.
"The stereotypes I’d most like to smash are that single parenthood equals failure, hardship, hopelessness," Carrie asserts. "The same old narrative has been slapped on single parents for years. Particularly young single mums." The episode titled "Figuring it Out: You’ll Find Someone", tackles society's implication that single mothers are somehow unfulfilled without a partner to fix all their problems. The podcast shows the world that single mothers can be happy and successful on their own – Carrie is a self-styled "six-figure bish" running her own mama merch company, Mère Soeur, and Remi is writing a book. Neither of them feels doomed to a life of misery and loneliness. "I’d like for newly single mums, young single mums, sudden and unexpectedly single mums to know that it can be a life-changing and liberating experience and an opportunity to really get to know yourself and what you’re truly capable of," Carrie continues. Remi certainly doesn’t feel pigeonholed by her single mum status. "There’s no shame in readjusting to your new life. Once I had processed everything, absolutely no environment made me feel uncomfortable. Especially in this day and age, families really do stray from the nuclear model of the '60s." Carrie and Remi prove that single motherhood is not one-size-fits-all, it’s a constantly evolving status made up of women who choose this path and those who don’t.
Alright For A Mum also gives a platform to single mothers to speak openly about sex and sexuality. "I’ve done quite a bit of dating," admits Remi, describing Alright For A Mum’s two dating-focused episodes as their "most loved". "I think it’s important to assess what you want out of dating before starting. It can be a bit more about logistics and planning as a single parent, but doable all the same," says Remi. "The most surprising thing I’ve found was that I didn’t really [get] any grief about being a mum! That might be because I mention it in my profile, though."
If you’re not in a place to date, Carrie has the best alternative. "When my last relationship ended I bought myself a despicably priced but impressively well-equipped vibrator as a way to invest in my own pleasure and take back some control," she explains. When you can raise your kids solo and have mind-blowing orgasms by yourself, it makes you think very carefully about who to invest your time in, which I have realised is no bad thing. For me, single motherhood has become an opportunity – to develop an even closer relationship with my son and focus on my career – and it’s Carrie and Remi, among others, who I have to thank for this zen new outlook.
As well as devoting time to herself, Carrie has built an enviable partnership with her co-parent. However, she is keen to stress that "things haven’t always been this way".
"As a family, you experience so many uncomfortable firsts. The first overnight stay, the first time one of you gets a new partner, the first time you realise you’re really not a nuclear family anymore and so on. You have to allow each other time to adjust and put each other’s comfort and peace of mind at the forefront of your decision-making. For us, it’s been about swallowing our pride, having the hard conversations, being as honest as we can, as often as we can, and giving a LOT of forgiveness and understanding." There are many single mums, myself included, who look to Carrie’s relationship with her son’s father as #excouplegoals and hope that one day our situations might look similar, but for many of us this is an impossible dream. Carrie empathises: "It’s a lifelong relationship that you have to really work at and sometimes it takes time."
Currently in its second season, Alright For A Mum continues to provide a 'village' for anyone struggling with their newfound single mum status, tackling a wealth of interesting topics and interviewing captivating mothers in a variety of situations. Meanwhile, Carrie is working on a new collection for her label and Remi is hosting a second podcast, Make Motherhood Diverse, exploring different types of motherhood. For these ambitious, career-driven women, it’s the juggle that’s real. To every single mother in the same boat, Carrie urges: "Don’t be afraid to ask for help and if there’s nobody to help, you find that you can become creative with your timekeeping. Single mums are incredibly resourceful." Too bloody right.