Single mum says she's working three jobs to help pay for Christmas
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A widowed mum-of-three says she has to work three jobs to make ends meet as the cost of living rises.
Louise Parker, 48, from Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, lost her husband three years ago and is now the sole earner in her household.
Louise, who is mum to Michael, 15, Christian, 13, and Heather, 12, says the family are struggling so much in the run-up to Christmas that she has had to take on extra work.
Louise explained: "In the run-up to Christmas I will increase my hours. I will work my nine to five and then work around five hours on a Friday evening and then twelve hours on a weekend.
"I will then be dashing home to feed my kids to make sure they are okay. Sadly, I don’t get to see my children as often as I would like to. I would love to have time at home, but fortunately for me they are self-sufficient and they can sort themselves out.
"Everyone is struggling and unless you have loads of savings everyone is in the same boat. I can't work any more hours than I am and a lot of the people I work with are students.
"Here I am, at nearly 50, going back and working more hours even though I wouldn’t like to do it.”
Despite their struggles with money, Louise says she and her kids are looking forward to Christmas as it means they’ll be able to enjoy time together as a family.
She added: "We don’t watch much television together so we will appreciate all being at home watching Christmas films and playing board games, but now as they're getting older, I need to think of other ways to keep them entertained.
"I've never gone big on presents but they are always grateful for what they get, we've made more of a bigger deal about stockings. As long as the boys get lynx sets they are happy. We go big on sweets and chocolates.
"Christian said as long as we make a homemade Christmas cake on Christmas Eve, he will be happy, we make it together every year. I'm going to have to focus on that more than anything else and be more appreciative of our time together.
"Three jobs have helped me financially, but I'm constantly doing maths and working out if I can afford things and always asking 'do I need it' and I've also cut out things that aren’t essential.”
With Christmas almost here, Louise has turned to her credit cards to help afford things - leaving her in debt.
"It all adds to the pressure of Christmas,” she said. “You constantly think if you’re doing something fun or go and eat somewhere and do something that you have to juggle it between paying bills.
"I've never been flushed with money, but you want to have fun, especially at Christmas. We spent last Christmas being worried about covid, and now we're worrying if we can even afford petrol, is a bit sad. I imagine lots of people will be in the same position.”