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Every week I ask one woman to answer my 10 questions. This week it is the turn of Anya from Older Single Mum. You probably don’t need me to tell you this but Anya is an inspiration to so many women. She recently featured in Easy Living Magazine telling how she kicked out her ex-husband while pregnant with their second child and started her blog in order to be a voice for those not so young single mums. Not only is she very capable of writing a witty, houmourous and on-the-money post or two but she also has a few books up her sleeve – all she needs is the time to get them in order. All of this as well as being a great mum and a laugh Anya is, in the words of Bridget Jones: ‘A top person’.

Anya Harris from Older Single Mum on

Hello, I’m Anya from Older Single Mum. I don’t know why people find me inspiring. I think walking out on a six figure salary is quite unimaginable for most people, but I had no qualms, yet that was a long time ago.  Nowadays, people know me best for (having kicked out my famous ish husband) being a voice for single mums who are not teenagers and getting away from that stereotype.  I ran a series on my blog called Single Mums’ Stories – which was so inspiring that Netmums picked up on it and ran an entire Single Mums - Busting the Myths Week which was a wonderful breakthrough where even I discovered that only 2% single mums are teenagers.  Please do check that out!

Q1: Describe your typical day

I’m normally woken up a few times – with two students and two children keeping opposite hours, so the day starts before I’m ready.  I need to be cuddled by my lovely boyfriend to get me going in the right mood.  While the kids are on holiday, the other half scarpers off to work and the three of us laze about a bit reading books and enjoying a cuppa in bed, but the usual form is the school run for my eldest and the youngest has started nursery two mornings a week.  Those are my opportunity to breathe, write a bit and catch up with stuff on line, but I am a bit prone to a coffee and picking up the paper so that I can read it ON THE SAME DAY it’s been published, while he’s not with me.  Otherwise, saving him from his gregarious fearlessness is a full time occupation, yet I am gradually working towards editting a few books I’ve thrown together over the last ten years or so. (Take a look at Anya’s Diaries – extracts of which have appeared on her site).

MORE 1 Woman: 10 Questions interviews

Karen Morland from 365 Pearls of Widsdom
Hayley Goleniowska from DownsSideUp
Jenny Mortimer from Kyna Boutique
Isra from LatteMama
Jennifer Jain from Jennifer’s Little World
Lilja the acupuncturist
Ruth from DorkyMum
Kath from KnittyMummy

Q2: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and have you followed it?

To listen to you heart. This takes some doing in this day and age and I didn’t discover doing that until I was in my thirties.  You have to take your brain along with you, but, essentially, it’s about trusting your instincts.  That’s what’s kept man alive for millions of years.  It’s a very powerful tool for all sorts of reasons and there are anecdotal tales galore about people’s lives being saved when doing so - but an inner feeling when supermarket shopping or going a certain somewhere at a certain time - all that kind of guidance  from within – can pay unexpected dividends.  I follow it as much as possible and the more I do, the more intuitive I become!

Q3: What do you think makes a successful woman?

I used to be ‘successful’ – as  Money Broker in the City, on a fortune, flash car, suits, high heels, glamorous travelling, living the high life, out and about all the time, an expense account of £1000 per month, purely for ‘entertaining’ purposes, Wimbledon, Rugby, you name it, but the truth, is I wasn’t ‘successful’ because, much of the time, I was bored, lonely and miserable. From the outside my life was enviable.  From the inside, it most certainly wasn’t.  My health was suffering and, one day, I just walked. Nowadays, I’m broke.  I’ve run out of money, looking after my children.  I couldn’t have them until I was in my forties, so every minute with them is perhaps more precious to me than to those whose children came easily and with a nice husband and family around. 

I have been on my own with them (since divorcing their dad) and although I’m occasionally still bored, lonely and miserable – as are many mothers - I wouldn’t change it for the world! No-one can have it all, but I feel independence is over-rated, so I think balance is the key to success. 

At the moment, my life is usually out of balance, because there isn’t enough time for me or the work I feel calling me with regard to the writing I have done.  I’m quite ambitious with it and am aware my time will come, so am trying to make a success of the present by enjoying it and relaxing, rather than feeling frustrated.  I’m not good at this because my previously spoilt life renders me not naturally prone to waiting!

Q4: What 3 things really make you happy and why?

Being still, reading a book. Doing nothing is my greatest pleasure.  It means there are no demands on me – for the moment anyhow! There’s a lot of shopping and cooking and clearing up to do every day with so many people in the house, so, once a week, I relish it when my cleaner has been and the house is peaceful, quiet and ordered – for that moment anyhow too! Every now and then when the children are with their father, my partner and I get time to ourselves - which hasn’t come at the end of the day when we’re both exhausted.  I enjoy this time immensely.  We go on lunch / tea dates.

Q5: What 3 things really make you angry and why?

I get very angry about the medicine in this country.  I left the City eventually because I was quite ill – probably with stress and exhaustion, but found the medical establishment wanting.  I turned to Alternative Therapies, because I had the cash and was desperate, and I found untold help and recovery.   Obviously, there are charlatons among the practitioners, but no more than there are in any other walk of life.  Other countries don’t undermine these practises so vehemently i.e. those that focus on health rather than illness.  Other peoples’ suffering – while the knowledge is there to help them - has driven me and sustained me enough to write my first book.

Those awful men and women that harm children.  I believe that prison is too good for them and that they should never be let out to roam our streets. It’s not fair on anyone.

Ex-husbands who can’t be bothered to pay proper maintenance, leaving women to compromise their kids.

Q6: How do you relax?

Ooh I do like a good chick flick with a reliable, soppy, happy Hollywood ending.

Dumb and Dumber
Social faux pas-a-plenty: Dumb & Dumber picture thanks to TWM 1340 @

Q7: What makes you laugh?

I simply adore social faux pas (when I’m not on the receiving end!).  Dumb and dumber / Meet the Fockers honestly rock for me.

If you were given a time machine where and when would you travel to and why? 

I would go back to when my my mum was a child with polio and, in the absence of being able to change it for her if I could and have her escape the disease entirely, I would just be with her.  She spent a great deal of time on her own – various spells of months from age six upwards.  I would do anything I could.  She never talks about it but shuns fruit to this day because it reminds her of those times.

Q9: If you had £10,000 to give to charity which one would you choose and why?

I would be torn between all those which specifically help children.

Q10: If you could magically create an extra two hours in a day what would you use them for?

Easy peasy.  They’d fit in between the time the kids’ heads hit their pillows and before mine does.  I’d like to spend more time with my partner, chatting with my friends uninterrupted on the ‘phone – even being out with them (!), and catching up with bloggers and blogs on-line. I tend to give priority to my ‘real’ life, but I like my on-line one too and it is presently often, regretfully, more neglected than anything else.

Follow and get in contact with Anya:
Older Single Mum
@ Twitter

And finally… a note from Michelle:
I met Anya at a Save The Children blogging event and since then she has been a constant source of support, motivation and praise and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her. Anya, your kindness and generosity has really touched me. Without going overboard I want you to know that I really appreciate all your words and I am honoured to call you a friend. x


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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words Michelle. I am really touched too. It is an honour to be among other such inspirational women and be here on your brilliant site. I’m not sure I can be friends for long with someone who spends their summers so perfectly ; XX

  2. This interview is awesome. I have read a few of Anya’s blog posts and didn’t know any of this.
    I would love to have the guts to leave my husband.
    I am so touched by so many of the words here.
    Will be reading her blog more often now, and taking a look at the other interviews too.
    Great stuff girls.
    Hugs, Liska
    P.S. I particularly resonated with:
    “but an inner feeling when supermarket shopping or going a certain somewhere at a certain time – all that kind of guidance from within – can pay unexpected dividends. I follow it as much as possible and the more I do, the more intuitive I become!” and the comments about health and wellness.


    • Thank you so much Liska. It’s obviously not a coincidence that we were sat next to one another in Starbucks that day of the conference! x ;) )

    • Hi Liska – glad you enjoyed Anya’s interview and that you have connected with her words. The idea of 1 Woman: 10 Questions is to show off the many fabulous, inspirations women out there – of which Anya is a shining example. I’m sure you are too if you fancy taking part please let me know.
      Michelle x

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