There are certain times of the year when being alone, perhaps without your children, can feel especially raw. Mother’s Day, long Bank Holiday weekends, Valentine’s Day, holidays and key social events can be a real struggle if we are by ourselves, separated from our children. It matters little that we usually spend lots of time with them.
Tips for being alone on Mother’s Day;
– Remind yourself that it’s just one day. If you miss out on a Christmas or Mother’s Day it can be all too easy to run with the emotion and get caught up in a cycle of gloom and despondency. Try to detach from the feelings and make sure the next time you see them you have a lovely time together. Focus on making your together times special.
– Yes, by all means, acknowledge that some of your alone time can be a great opportunity to get chores done and catch up on jobs, but also determine to dedicate some time for yourself to enjoy a few treats. Have a leisurely bath, light those lovely scented candles you’ve been saving for a special occasion, read a book, watch a film, listen to some good music, prepare your favourite food. Relish having the place to yourself. Relax, de-stress and treat yourself well on Mother’s Day.
– Avoid guilt-tripping your children or regaling them with details of your distress. Children are not stupid, they’re good at sensing how you’re feeling and will usually be far more aware of what’s going on than you credit. Yes, they’ll allow Dad to bribe them with holidays and expensive gifts – why wouldn’t they! But they’ll also appreciate your daily efforts to feed and care for them, the things you suspect go largely unnoticed.
– Maintain an involvement in other areas of life. Keep your identity and establish some interests away from the home. Keep up to date with the news, popular TV, what’s happening in your locale, so you’re confident enough to participate in conversations, build new social connections and attract new friends.
– Would you be interested in accepting an offer from friends or colleagues to meet someone they know? Might it be time to meet someone new and do something different? Mixing and talking to new people, particularly potential dates, is a great way to improve your confidence and self-esteem, motivate you to dress up, look after yourself and remind yourself that you’re more than ‘just’ a Mum! Plus conversing with new people is an important skill, quickly lost if we’re out of practice and haven’t socialised independently in a while.
– Are you ready to consider dipping a tentative toe into the official dating scene again? Online dating sites are an increasingly popular way to meet new people and offer great practical advice. For example, be careful how much personal information you disclose, limit a first meeting to an hour and in a public place, and trust your gut instincts if you start to feel uneasy.
– Manage your expectations and don’t invest everything in a new friendship/relationship from the outset. Enjoy meeting someone new, practicing your conversational skills, maybe flirting a little and making a new friend even if it doesn’t result in them becoming a lover.
– Make invitations. Take charge of the parts of your life you have some control over, like your social life. Be proactive and join mailing lists. Source free exhibitions, two for the price of one offers and early doors specials on meals. Become the go-to guy for fun and also accept when others reciprocate and invite you along. Keep in touch with what’s happening around you.
– Provide reasonable options. Your friends and inner circle may wish to socialise but may need to be careful about their expenditure. You could suggest a pamper evening at each other’s homes, or supper parties where everyone contributes a dish and/or bottle. Or retrieve your board games and have competition evenings; I know of several people who started games evenings over the winter months and enjoyed them so much that they became a regular part of their calendar.
– Also, make time for some of the things that interest you, if you are able. Volunteer, join a class, walking group or activity you enjoy. Maybe alternate child care with other mums and dedicate some free time to mixing and meeting people with similar interests to yourself. Enjoy sharing conversations, becoming friends and, who knows, maybe meeting someone new too.
Remind yourself that each situation has pros and cons. Being single isn’t the end of the world! Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. In fact many people in unhappy relationships will envy you your freedom and the fact that you’re now starting out afresh. Have a great Mother’s Day!
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.