Single Parent Festive Wellness 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas and New Year is tough for single parents, tougher than other times of the year (and Christmas 2020 is a standout one for us all) so I’ve written this blog post to ease us through this festive season with genuine joy.

This year, I aim to fully enjoy myself by approaching everything with presence, acceptance and the 5 secrets to Single Parent Festive Wellness.

I now know that Christmas shines a big, fat light on my singledom (for me, it even tops Valentine’s day) but this is okay. I’ve accepted it, all is well, and I don’t plan on being single forever! Right now, everything is just as it should be.

The twinkly, glowing media images that reel off happy family after happy family with mums AND dads are what they are. The fun festive bits of this season which accentuate no other adult being around (such as how excited my son gets by decorations) are simply experiences I currently share alone. Regardless, I am grateful for them all.

The split care (if you have it) of children over the holidays can add tough feelings. I know I felt it last year and in the run-up to this one. Are your children with you Christmas Day and Boxing Day, or with the other parent? Maybe you aren’t seeing your child this New Year due to Covid and are feeling the loss of that already. Arrangements vary from situation to situation; more so this year than any other as many of us will additionally be absent of extended family.

A Happy Christmas 2020

I invite you though to not fight those negative spaces; to not be annoyed by the switches or of the times we’re currently in. To stay in the negative or to paste on fake positivity will serve us single parents little gain.

The sun will rise and set on the days of this festive season like any other year. I know I’ll be trying very hard to be present to all the experiences I have. We have choice in how we interpret what life brings. As Shakespeare wrote ‘there is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so’.

So, whether you’re parenting totally solo in Christmas 2020, whether you’re apart from your children, or together with them and others but without a romantic partner – I want to share with you my 5 secrets to Single Parent Festive Wellness. I hope these secrets bring peace, fun and joy at the end of a year like no other.

The 5 Secrets…

1/. Do things that make you feel good…

When we focus on giving our children the best possible festive experience, we can forget to take care of ourselves. So, this year (and every year!) spend some time doing things for yourself that you enjoy. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so have that soak in the bath or take time to read your new book. Do things that make you feel special, grounded and are just for you. You are your own person, as your children are their own too, so enjoy being you!

2/. Let go…

As single parents, we are masters at juggling and managing an array of life. We run the household, provide income and are there for our children day and night. Striving and giving, but all this juggling can make it hard for us to let go of the reins. We can lose our ability to let things be. Surrendering control is empowering, peace-giving and on a higher plain for not only ourselves but for our children. So, surrender to that which you feel resistance over and let peace envelop your soul.

3/. Laugh…

Do this as much and as often as you can. Laughter is a powerhouse of goodness for your physical and mental health. Avoid too many news updates and instead, laugh at movies, play games and mess about. Our children are better at this than we are (as well as lots of other things, lol) so look to them for guidance! Laugh every day and laugh hard. 

4/. Live mindfully…

Enjoy all the moments that Christmas 2020 and New Year give for what they are. Focus on whatever is happening with all your senses. Really experience it, don’t let thoughts about the past or the future fog your mind. Look at a mince pie as if you’ve never seen one before! As your children open their presents, watch their faces and feel the energy they exude as they pull paper and ribbon apart. You’ll get so much from this.

5/. Move

You might think this is hard to fit in (whilst getting everything else sorted) but movement of our bodies reaps enormous rewards. Doing at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise each day is great for us in mind, body and spirit. If you can do it outside, then even better! I get out and about with my toddler every day and I have an exercise bike in my bathroom for when he’s in bed. Yoga, pilates and weigh bearing exercise is also key for muscles, flexibility and overall health. 

Enjoy this festive season. Catch up with others virtually, love the moments you have and look to the future for what Christmas-es will be like.

I wish you and your families health, happiness and joy for 2021. Thank you for supporting this blog and my work with single parents.

If you or someone you know would benefit from coaching in 2021, please let me know. It has all the potential to be their best year yet!

(Photos by Chad Madden, Kira auf der heide & S&B Vonlanthen, Unsplash)

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Single Parent Summertime

It’s here! The sun, strawberries and sandcastles of a British Summertime. How wonderful!

I love this season and I love a bit of camping in the great outdoors, but a recent trip made me realise camping can, concisely, sum up the hardest thing I find about being a single parent…

PHYSICAL EXHAUSTION (camping can be bloody hard work).

Maybe it’s also that I’m getting on a bit (42, I know I don’t look it – lol) but doing every job that needs to be done for a camping trip is tiring. Never mind adding in everything that’s needed for a toddler’s camping trip too!

It took me nearly 2 hours to gather together everything required, from every cupboard and drawer in the flat, and squeeze it in the car (and I still forgot stuff). Then, there’s the getting to the site, unloading, erecting and sorting the tent, bedding, tables, chairs, roll mats, food, toiletries – followed by a succession of early mornings, sweaty days, chilly evenings, bbqs, lack of fridge etc. etc. etc. – all happening with toddler in tow.

Camping in the summertime, on your own with a little one, involves a lot of physical work – lifting, shifting, moving and sorting – whilst continually ensuring my son doesn’t kill himself on a tent peg or guy rope.

I was physically spent and it’s at these times I find single parenting hard.

There’s just not much left in the tank so playing a new game or reading another story is an effort rather than a joy, but, I also understand for me to be on good form I should employ tried and tested actions which keep me on track (whether I’m camping or anywhere else):-

  • Firstly, I listen to my body. I didn’t used to do this but would then burn myself out and catch some illness or other. In current times though, more than ever, it’s key to look after our health so if I feel tired, I rest, chill and try to get an extra hour or two of sleep.
  • I also generally slow down and do less in the daytimes for a couple of days. I don’t push on and I don’t, in any way, compare myself to others (we don’t need to hike/cycle/swim every day). My son and I hang out, read, colour, play and laugh at home – whether that’s in a tent or flat. Instead of cooking a big dinner with lots of components one evening, we might just have beans on toast. I make life simpler.
  • I always make sure I practice self-care. I am kind to myself, giving myself a foot rub with oil as a treat or meditating and listening to the birdsong outside. Treats can never be over-estimated!
  • The last and most powerful thing I do is to be in the present moment with gratitude. I am mindful to whatever wonder is happening and I am grateful for it – my son playing with his cars on the picnic rug outside our tent, to the sun setting across the far hills or to the crackle of the barbecue getting going.

These strategies always set me straight, be it in the summer (when faced with the unenviable task of rolling a tent back up) or in the dead of winter (whilst climbing 4 flights of stairs to our top floor flat with 4 bags of shopping).

I just slow down.

I live in love and congruence with my body.

I am grateful for life and its’ joys.

And it generally does the trick, exhaustion goes and energy flows.

Hopefully these ideas might help you too if you (‘re mad enough to) decide to camp with a toddler. We’ve got our next trip already planned ?!

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The Single Parent Evening

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…

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