There’s a time in the evening as a single parent – when children are asleep and you’re on your own, when the washing’s done and the toys are packed away – there’s a time that can be both a wonder and a horror.
My evening times used to be filled with loneliness. My horror.
After I’d put my son to bed, I’d feel rudderless. My sense of purpose missing. Loneliness would creep up from the evening gloom and sometimes hold an icy grip for the whole night.
I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
As a single parent, nothing emphasises being alone more than evening time. When – seemingly – the rest of the world is cosied up together, having a family meal or nice group stuff, the fact you’re on your own is never more-starker than when the sun sets and you’re within the four walls of home.
To fill this void, I’d reach for the phone, remote control or a glass of wine. I’d swipe Tinder, trawl social media or be so bone-tired I’d vegetate with television until sleep.
And these things weren’t all bad. They’d fog things up a bit, help while away the hours and make any bad feelings less sharp but they also left me in limbo. No further forward onto the path of wonder that I knew was mine to have and that would – in turn – make daytimes with my son even better too.
I was also lonely in a way that previously living on my own had in no way compared to. Then, if I wanted to see others, all I had to do was walk out the front door. Now, as my babe lay sleeping, I was in and faced with myself, my thoughts, my fears and every other nasty meh that appeared in the psyche.
Until that was, I decided to make some shifts.
Shifts primarily in how I saw myself.
Shifts in how I cared for myself.
Shifts towards those things that healed and helped me soar.
No more wine or mindless screen time. No more Tinder swiping without being ready to go on an actual date (lol). No more ex thoughts and, most importantly, no more feeling bloody sorry for myself!
I chose to choose differently.
Instead of loneliness, I did things that helped me feel good.
I worked on my business. I read interesting books and articles. I watched movies that made me laugh, cry and yell. I called friends. I drew, collaged and journaled. I Facetimed those I love. I invited my nearest and dearest around for food and tea. Sometimes I did yoga. I went on my exercise bike. I lit candles, massaged my feet and meditated. Sometimes I got an early night.
I made time for positivity in all its facets.
There was positive relationships, accomplishment, good emotions and meaning. All the key ‘pillars’ of positive psychology as proposed in 2009 by the psychologist Martin Seligman.
Aspects that also have great support are the app Frolo, where you can connect with like-minded single parents in your area, and Family Action who provide support to those experiencing social isolation.
After some time, my single parent evenings began to feel good. Really good. I started to enjoy the prospect of the few hours around dusk. My evenings felt full of love, just like the love that’s in the day with my boy.
Evening times now are about a love for myself and a love for others in the world. It feels like a full life even if I don’t leave my living room. Loneliness lives elsewhere and instead the darkening time is filled with warmth, joy and contentment. My wonder.
I wish wonder for your evenings too…