Hi my name is Nevine, a single working mum to a wonderful 10 year old boy and founder of tech start-up, Playdate, the UK’s first dating app for single parents.
I suppose starting Playdate was initially a selfish endeavour. How the hell can a divorced, busy working mum in today’s modern world find the time to date let alone have a social life? I can hardly keep up with the school’s emails and parents WhatsApp groups, let alone make sure clothes are washed, dishes are cleaned, and fresh home-cooked food is made for the growing monster at home (while also feeding myself). Scrap that, I definitely do not prepare fresh home-cooked food daily, more often than not it’s nuggets and chips in the oven. So sue me
We are inundated with tasks, delivering in the workplace, proving to our colleagues, peers, and world that we can do it all, often feeling like a failure in some part of our lives because giving 100% everywhere, is close to impossible. At some point, something’s got to give. That point for me was the pandemic and lockdown.
Throwback to my married years, life was good (sort of, in hindsight it wasn’t great, I was lying to myself as you do when you are trying to save face and save your marriage), I had my own thriving marketing agency, mainly representing tourism clients overseas and organising big events, conferences, and fundraising for children’s charities back home (Egypt). Even then, as my son was in his early years, I needed to rely on childcare (and not my husband) to be able to attend work events, or fly out to visit a client. It was then (before lifesaving apps like Bubble existed) extremely difficult to find a sitter or nanny that you can trust and fully rely on.
I barely managed to survive those years. I had a wonderful nanny who was fairly consistent, but still having a partner at home didn’t really make much of a difference. I now understand how my happily coupled-up friends still say they struggle, even with a partner at home because of a lack of childcare support. Although it still drives me nuts, now that I am completely alone with no partner at home to watch my son for a couple of hours, to hear them say that.
I lost my business literally overnight when the pandemic struck. No one was travelling so tourism was dead, events were axed as we were locked down, and fundraising for any charity unrelated to the pandemic took a very long inevitable pause. Living off my savings and homeschooling my then 8 year old son, I had to make a decision about whether to pack up and go back home to my family and support system in Egypt or power through and find something else to give me purpose. Add to that (when it rains it pours), a horrific bank scam right before Christmas which wiped out all my savings. I had absolutely nothing, no money, no job, no partner, no support. Just my lovely son and I in our small flat in London. It was then that the penny dropped for me and I decided to start Playdate. I quite literally had nothing left to lose.
I thought ‘how cool would it be if there was a dating app just for single parents, where you can find other single parents with that shared experience of being a parent, looking for meaningful relationships that fit their lifestyle? Relationships where the children always come first and dates where the children can join when things get serious. Relationships where you can build a new family unit, and blend your single parent family with theirs, giving your children siblings through step brothers and sisters. The dream!
But first, we had to solve the main pain point for most single parents trying to have a social life: childcare. I came across Bubble a number of times since they launched and have been recommended to use the service by a friend. Honestly, a brilliant and lifesaving app. So easy and quick to use, so many options for sitters in your area, and all checked, vetted, and reviewed by other parents. I reached out to Bubble, told them about my idea which they loved and agreed to partner with us by offering all our users discounted childcare through Bubble. boom! I had the solution. With this partnership, not having a sitter is never an excuse for not making a date (unless you really don’t want to and have had last minute cold feet!). I channelled all my energy into creating Playdate, I had purpose, I was happy (happier), and in turn, a better parent to my son.
As a single parent, you have to be super inventive, your brain is constantly trying to find solutions to problems, quickly. Perhaps that’s what drove me into the world of entrepreneurship. No feat is too big, I can take on the world, alone, and I am determined to bebloody good at it. But life gets in the way. The school calls on your way to a big meeting, saying your son has been in an accident, or is feeling poorly and needs to be picked up immediately. Your ex-partner cancels his weekend with your child last minute as ‘something has come up’, and you are left in despair, with no time to make any plans for someone to look after your child so you can finally attend your best friend’s annual birthday weekend.
Enter Bubble, instant childcare at a click of a button, reliable, vetted sitters across the country available at very short notice. Bubble lets us be all that we can be. And I’m not just talking about work, I’m talking about life, and fun, and friendships and relationships. We shouldn’t have to compromise those areas of our lives because we are single parents. Stop feeling guilty! Your happiness and wellbeing directly affects your kids, so be a little selfish will you? Go on that date, book that weekend away, get that massage at that spa you have been dreaming of going to. Because you deserve it, and have earned it.
To all the single parents out there, you are superheroes, you’ve got this, nothing is impossible, go out there and be all that you can be, with a little help from Bubble.
Happy parents, happy kids. Remember that.