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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Slowing Down to Do More

I recently read a quote by Steve Chandler – “busy-ness is laziness”- and it made me stop.

Stop and take note.

Stop and pause for a moment.

Steve says that ‘being “too busy” is not the optimal state as it’s a state of chaos, not a state of focus’.

I stopped to notice my own internal and external busy worlds. The worlds I had created for myself (not created by anyone else except the odd demand from a toddler). I then asked myself if my need to feel busy was actually about something else, and perhaps it was doing more harm than good!?!

You see, I have a pattern that runs in my life. Maybe you do too when it comes to being busy!?

Most of the time, I have quite a lot of energy. I play and buzz about with my son. I catch-up with loved ones. I fill time with interesting things and I take care of my mental and physical health. It’s busy but in a positive way.

However, when it comes to my working life, I push myself and I push myself and I push myself with stuff. As Bec Heinrich puts it in her Ted Talk, I have the ‘Doing Disease’.

This thing to do and that thing to do.

My thinking pattern runs something like this… ‘I must endeavour in lots of activities because struggle, strife and volume of effort will lead to success’.

In reality though, it often doesn’t in the ways I hope, and you might find this too.

What invariably happens is that after a period of some weeks or months of major effort, I’m left feeling too tired to show up in all the ways I love and want to be present – for my son, myself and others in my life. All I want to do is retreat and replenish, which is pretty much impossible when you’re a single mum running a business.

So, Steve’s quote arrived in my consciousness at exactly the right time. I wanted there to be a better balance and decided to give myself space and kindness. I would push less and ‘be’ more. I would see what emerged.

In the Harvard Business Review’s 2010 study of 343 businesses (conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit), they found that firms that “slowed down to speed up” greatly improved their top and bottom lines, averaging 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period. Perhaps I could gain more personally and professionally as well?

I spent a month reading, meditating, sleeping well and being fully present with my son, loved ones and on events in the world as they unfolded. I noticed. I reflected. I looked on things inwardly as well as outwardly.

I saw what busyness gave me…

A good hiding place.

A place to hide from fear!

When I worked during this month, I focused on just one or two activities, not a flitting between half a dozen or more. I wasn’t distracted. I allowed things to be and I sat with discomforts, not diffusing them with (self-imposed) tasks or actions to complete. I let thoughts, feelings and actions evolve.

And it’s been good. Really good.

I’ve felt more rested, more energised and the directions I have taken have elicited much more. From enhanced connections with others, to a greater sense of compassion and contribution for the world. Aspects that have naturally occurred have been bolder, brighter and of greater resonance and impact for myself and others. I’ve also had new ideas for things that weren’t working and I now know exactly what direction to take.

Many people have written and reflected on the importance of slowing down. Carl Honore wrote the book ‘In Praise of Slow,’ challenging the ‘cult of speed’. He calls slowness a ‘superpower’.

The State University of New York touches here on the process of incubation, which I studied during a Masters in Creative Thinking, It’s key for the creative process and both divergent and convergent thinking. In this, rushing full steam ahead often doesn’t elicit the best ideas but those which have stewed in the subconscious and been played with for a while, can be much more fruitful.

During my period of slowing down, I also thought about how we, as a nation, are enmeshed with speed. When someone asks us how we are, we often reply with an answer incorporating busy…

‘Great but busy!’

‘So busy at the moment.’

‘Busy doing that and that.’

Busy-ness seems to be a culturally good thing but is it really? Is it good for our physical and mental health, our relationships with others, our sense of compassion or for our productivity?

For me, busy is sometimes necessary but often it isn’t, so (from now on), I’m going to blitz the fear and unleash my superpower slow!

I’ll be slowing down to do much, much more…

Here are my top tips on how to slow down, with kids, and as we come out of lockdown (please let me know if you have others that work for you):-

  • Tackle 1 big task a day (but not necessarily complete!) and start with it first but with a set time frame. Don’t do it for hours and hours and don’t start with other menial activities that fill your spare time that’s then suddenly gone.
  • Go outside for an hour(+) every day – doesn’t matter when or for what – just get out there for a sizeable chunk of time. The natural world has been shown by countless studies to have a positive effect on stress and anxiety.
  • Meditate for 15 minutes+ every day. The art of being still, present and connected works!
  • Write, journal, draw or scribble on a napkin, each day, for 5 minutes+. You’ll be amazed at what comes out.
  • Do daily activities a little bit slower – like cooking, washing, brushing teeth, getting dressed. Give yourself more time and make a commitment to give these things slightly longer to do. A slower pace will start to become a good habit.

Other good places to explore for inspiration include MindBodyGreen and the Huffington Post.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy”

Guillaume Apollinaire

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