Play in the Rain

It was late and way past Alex’s bedtime. I was tired and ready for bed myself. But, we had to go get groceries. After all, my boys knew how to eat! By the time we pulled into the garage, it was raining hard outside. I gave Alex the keys and asked him to start getting the groceries. When I came back out, he was standing in the rain. The trunk was still shut. Playfully, he dangled the keys in front of me.

At that moment, I had a choice. I could get frustrated, get back my keys, put the groceries up and put him to bed.

Or, I could chase that kid into the rain and play with him.

I chose the latter. We played in the rain until we were thoroughly soaked, then we put the groceries up and got ready for bed. There was lots of laughter that night! And jokes! And smiles! All because I chose to act silly and get really wet!

As single moms, we can get tired. Like so tired, you can hardly see straight. Too tired to even think. When many times, when our kids are ready to play, we’re ready for bed! No one would blame us for bypassing the games and just chilling on the couch, while the kids played in another room.

Playing is part of childhood; and for us to be part of children’s lives, we need to play as well!

Playing looks different for all of us. It could mean staying up late with a Monopoly game. Or maybe making cookies at 10:00 at night, because there’s a living room full of teenage boys who want a snack. It’s laying outside on a trampoline to watch the stars. It’s talking about a racing game on the Playstation or watching yet another Marvel movie! And if you have more than one child, it could be all of the above on the same night!

Psychologist say play is important for children. It helps to teach them how to act. It gives them social skills and self-confidence. It helps to train them for real-life situations. But, beyond the studies and the big words, the more important thing is to give our children a chance to laugh with us. Playing gives us insight into our children’s lives. Plus, kids need that bonding time with you Mom!

I have three amazing boys. And, they are so very different! I have a kid who’s good at putting things together and he loves video games. Ever talk past midnight about a racing game? I have! My middle kid loves reading and acting and watching movies. Our fun was discussing the books he read and watching the movies to see if they followed the book. My youngest is my most active child and my most scholastic. Fun for him is rock climbing at a local park, while talking about colleges. But, I never would have known these things, if I hadn’t been willing to get onto their level and play with them.

But, you know what else you’re doing? Making memories! When we play another game of checkers, when we play tag or go to the playground, we are making memories that will be remembered for a lifetime. Our children may not remember the exact activity, but they will remember the laughter. They will remember how they felt. They’ll remember that mom was happy and fun to be around.

Momma’s get right into the center of your child’s world. Set aside time to play games, to joke around, to enjoy activities together. Experiment with different things to see what clicks with your child. Rent funny movies. Bake together. Let them throw a party and invite their friends. Go for a hike. Plan a vacation together. Play board games. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn about your children, just by goofing off and having fun!

And next time it rains, you be the first one outside, splashing in the puddles and getting all wet!

Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

Daring Adventures of Single Parenthood, A Devotional. https://www.gwendolynirene.com/books/

How to Successfully Stay Sober While Being the Best Parent Possible

Photo Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Making the decision to be both sober and be the best parent you can be is the best gift that you can give your child. It is a great decision to make, and while it is certainly possible, it will not be easy. But you want to show your child that it is better to live a life that is happy, useful, and sober. You want to show your child that it is possible to cultivate coping skills outside of drugs or alcohol.

Addiction causes severe disruption in families, and usually it is the children of addicts who suffer the most. Whether you are an expecting parent looking to start parenthood with a clean slate or you have been a parent for awhile and you are ready to become sober, your child can only benefit from your sobriety.

Staying Sober

To be the best possible parent, you have to first tend to your own needs. Unfortunately, parents tend to overcompensate for this by putting their needs on the back burner. Preserving sobriety requires you to prioritize self-care, so be sure you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. In addition, manage stress, get adequate sleep, and do not forget to have fun with your child.

Having a routine is an important part of staying sober, but having a child can mess up your old routine. Do not let that deter you. Just develop a new routine that incorporates caring for your child and yourself. It may take a bit to get into a rhythm, but that is normal for any parent.

Being a parent does not mean you cannot ask for help. In fact, most parents need support from their spouse, loved ones, friends, and coworkers. Although you may not have a spouse, you can ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to help you, even if it is just for 30 minutes so you can take a shower and eat a warm meal.

Child Care Woes

If you find it difficult to attend a mutual-help meeting because you lack sufficient child care, ask if you are able to bring your child. Some meetings are specifically tailored to recovering moms and/or dads. These programs not only understand if you need to bring your child, but they are great for helping you learn to integrate self-care into a daily lifestyle as a parent.

You can do several things to merge self-care and childcare. If you like to walk, use a stroller and take your child with you. Perform yoga stretches while your child plays on the floor with you, and some exercises use your baby as part of the routine. You can place your child in a playpen or special baby seat while you shower or clean.

Remember to be grateful. Stay focused on your sobriety by writing down five things you are grateful for every day. They can be the same things, or you can switch them up. Chances are, you will include “family” fairly often. Family means a great deal to people so spend as much time as you can with your family. This does not just mean those whom you are related to; friends count as family too. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is crucial.

Join an online recovery forum to help you stay sober. They offer live chats, online meetings, online resources, and more. Staying sober can be a daily battle, but your health and happiness, as well as your child’s, are worth the effort. By staying focused and remembering to care for yourself and ask for help, you can successfully stay sober and be a good parent.

- Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of Recoverypride.org, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it. 

The Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

The Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

Ok, we all know the down side.

I could write a dozen of articles about the isolation, the loss of friends, the feeling of abandonment… and I have written a lot about those things. They are very real, very heart-wrenching, and just plain hard.

But what we all need to do right now, in this very moment — as you likely just googled and found this article, and are probably trying to find the bright side of all of this — WE, my ladies, need to stay positive.

For starters, remember: We got ourselves OUT of a bad situation, one that was not healthy for us, one that was not furthering our personal development. One that was sucking the life out of us.

So let’s take a moment to recognize that.

We are now free.

And now? We need to rally.

So I am here as your new best friend — your new-best-divorced-single-mama friend — to tell you these 10 things you can feel good about, right now, as you sip your wine or your La Croix or whatever it is you’re sipping, because I hope you’re all sipping something and have your feet up.

Note: I know there are many single moms that don’t share custody, and you don’t get some of of these benefits I write about below. I send a salute to you. I do feel grateful that my son’s father is a responsible guy that wants to be involved in our boy’s life. But there are also times I wish I could call all the shots and not have to split my sweet child’s time between two homes. We all make the best of what we have, I guess.

Here’s my take.

10 Benefits of Being a Divorced Single Mom (and Sharing Custody)

1. Nights off

Every Wednesday night, and every other weekend, is ALL MINE. No bedtime routine, no resistance to baths or brushing teeth or putting on pajamas. No, ma’am. My house is quiet, my breathing is deeper. I’m more relaxed. My Spotify is turned up. Sometimes I spend it quietly, sometimes I go out. Sometimes I write or draw or work. But being divorced, there is no negotiation about how I am going to spend my night off. I get to decide.

2. Sleep!

Oh yeah, baby. Every other weekend (and every Wednesday night) I get to catch up on blessed sleep. I get the entire bed. I often sprawl out and sigh deeply when I finally crawl in (usually after a hot bath). And I know I won’t be awakened by anyone, except perhaps my sweet old dog, huffing in my face. It is pure bliss. (Except the dog breath.)

If you’re new to being single, fear not. That “other side” of the bed that seems empty and abandoned will soon have a new feel. Creep your toe over there, dear. Soon your whole, unshaven leg will be over there. Shortly thereafter you find your new home: The middle of the bed.

3. Focusing on your needs.

At first it can seem overly quiet. And of course, there are weekends I feel lonely for my son. Or moments during the weekend. But after two years, I have found a rhythm on these solo weekends. I plan ahead more, so I have at least one social outing. But I like to keep a good portion of the weekend as ALL MINE. Maybe I want to watch a lot of Netflix. Or clean. Maybe I want to meet a friend for brunch and go for a long run. Maybe I need to spend 4 hours finding the perfect new pair of jeans. Or catch up on some work.

On my weeknight off I try to fit in something that feels like pampering. A hot bath. Painting my (short, stubby) nails. Making popcorn and binge watching a show.

4. Trying new things.

Last weekend, on the invitation of another single mom friend, I went to a blues dance party. It was preceded by a lesson. I’ve NEVER blues danced. I was terrified. But I went. And it was exhilarating to try something I’ve never done before. I was not good, but I met some nice people who also didn’t know what they were doing (and a lot who did) and I was glad I took the leap. I had fun, and I smiled and laughed a lot. Would I have done this if I was still unhappily married? Heck no.

Trying new things has been one of the biggest blessings of my divorce. I have now tried belly dancing, improv, taken a solo vacation, gone to more live music shows, became a fitness coach, and started a Meetup group for single parents and meeting more new people every week. I am living my life more fully than ever before. I’ve told fear to take a hike, and I am participating in life.

5. Redefining your life. Rebuilding yourself.

Divorce is the ultimate let down. We think — no, we KNOW — that we found our perfect partner for life, and we commit to that. And then something happens (or many somethings) that make us reconsider. And then, after much drama and difficult decision making and gross legal processes, you’re single— BOOM.

What now?

The identity that we had is partially gone. Which is, at first, difficult. To put it mildly.

But! You get to redefine what you want your life to be. Who you associate with. What you spend your time on. You get a second chance at designing your life. The way you spend your time. The way your treat your self, your body, your soul, your mind.

I decided four months ago to get into wicked shape. I had been feeling frustrated and mopey, and had just had a horrible date with a guy I had gotten my hopes up for. (He turned out to be a drug addict. Buh-bye!)

The empowerment I have found in the act of taking better care of my body through better nutrition and more regular exercise has been profound. I am in the best shape I have been in since college (and definitely eating better than I did in my cheap-ramen-or-fries-at-the-cafeteria days). I have loved it so much I decided to become a coach. And as a fitness coach I am also helping others feel their best and reach their goals. It’s been life-changing.

6. Time off for dating (yourself or others).

When (or if) you get to the point of dating, or just want to get out for fun by yourself, when you share custody — you have the time.

I have enjoyed dating. Yes, I’ve had some bad dates, but some fun ones, too. When I was newly single I accidentally got on Tinder (Seriously, I only wanted to see how it worked) and ended up getting sucked into it and then dating various guys for about 6 months.

I’ve since stopped, and I’m not at the point where I want something serious now, but having men show interest in me was uplifting and made me feel sexy and wanted.

But through the process of dating I learned how much I needed to simply care for myself. That before anyone else could show me love, I needed to show myself compassion and caring — first.

So since I’ve stopped dating I’ve had more nights out with myself. A delicious burger. Or wine and pizza. I call it dating myself. I choose my favorite restaurant and just go. I treat myself. Sometimes I read, or doodle, or look at Facebook or people-watch. It’s freeing to get comfortable being alone in a room full of other people. You realize nobody cares. Nobody is watching you. You can just exist, and observe!

7. Being a better parent

When I do have my son, I am a better parent. I’m more rested. When I get him back, I’ve missed him, so I’m really focused on him. I plan events or outings for us, or sometimes just have a nice, quiet day at home with him doing art projects or showing him how the washing machine works. (Three-year-olds are the best. So easily entertained.) Our time spent apart makes us both appreciate each other more.

8. Owning your strength

In my opinion, divorced women are some of the strongest people alive. We have decided to NOT accept bad behavior. We have decided we are strong enough to get by on our own. We have broken out of the “married with children” template, the mold that society has created, because we KNOW we deserve better. We endure the unspoken (or spoken) judgement of people, of friends and family. We have decided our kids don’t deserve to grow up witnessing an unhealthy relationship. And all of this? It is HARD.

But when you finally get through the drama, things get quiet. You may question your decision. Your circle of friends is more distant. You don’t know where you fit.

This is when you need to remember your strength. No, you don’t need to hold onto anger, you don’t need to rehash all of the drama. (Okay, sometimes you may need to remind yourself, but don’t dwell too long — it’s over).

You need to remember this: YOU are strong. And that you made this decision because you knew — YOU KNOW — it is best.

Owning that strength, that decision, is a practice — you get better at it. It eventually becomes a part of who you are, and you embody it. It bolsters you as you take steps into your new life.

9. Your closet. Your messes.

I may, at some point, share a house and a closet again with a partner. But I’ll be totally honest. I love love LOVE not sharing. I love knowing that if a mess is made, I don’t have anyone to blame except myself.

I have a tendency toward anxiety, so when things get cluttered I tend to start getting irritable. And it was worse when there was another body creating more clutter with more clothes and more dishes. It may be one of the smaller benefits, but it really is peaceful. I enjoy the simplicity of knowing it’s just my stuff (and my son’s).

10. A second chance at real love.

We have learned. Yes — I have fear of getting into another “bad” relationship. But I am also excited. I get to try again.

I’ve also learned more about love as a broader concept. Being a mother. The love my son has for me is so unconditional. As a mom, I now know the feeling of that kind of love. My marriage wasn’t that free, easy kind of love. It felt very conditional. I was always walking on eggshells.

If I get into a relationship again and it doesn’t feel like a pure, unconditional love, I feel more equipped to recognize that. And move on.

I also know that should I get into a relationship with a man that isn’t quite right, that I have greater love in my life already with my son, my friends, and my family.

New love will be icing on the cake of my already delicious life.

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What other perks have you found in your single mom lifestyle? I’d love to hear from you. basementqueens@gmail.com

Check out Liina at www.basementqueens.com