So your divorce is final, and you’re on your own for the first time in a few years (or many years). For some the newfound freedom is exciting, but for many divorced moms it’s scary. It’s hard to know how to live your own life, especially if you’re used to doing things with your former husband or partner, and most especially if he (or she) called the shots.
Many of us find out we don’t know who we are or what we like after divorce. But now’s the time to find out. Be gentle with yourself as you tackle life on your own, though. It can take time to find out what you enjoy and to make time to enjoy and live your new life.
As you move forward, try one or more of these 10 ways to live your life now (instead of waiting for a partner to share it with). If you share custody with your former spouse, this is a great way to fill some of the time when your kids are away. If you have sole custody it may take a little longer to find solo time, but it will come. Many of these ideas will work with your kids, too.
1. Let go of how it’s “supposed” to be; open up to what is. Whether you wanted the divorce or not, the first thing to do is stop fighting reality. You can still have happily ever after – it just won’t look like you thought it would when you got married. It’s absolutely possible to create a life you love after divorce, as I described in this article for divorcedmoms.com.
2. Learn to like your own company. No matter who else is in your life, you’ll always have you. If you don’t like yourself, you’ll never believe anyone else will like you either. Start small if this is a tough one. List 3 things that are good about you. It can be something as simple as knowing how to sew a hem or cook a meal, or it might be your beautiful eyes or warm smile. Ask your friends if you can’t think of anything – and accept what they tell you!
3. Explore your interests, and try new things. Take some classes or try some groups (meetup.com is a good place to start). These are great ways to learn and meet new people at the same time. I discovered a new interest from jealousy over my daughter’s summer plans (read more here).
4. Practice gratitude. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every day. The more you appreciate about what you already have in your life, the more you will enjoy it.
5. Try some solo outings. View it as an experiment and see what happens. Take a hike; eat at a restaurant you’ve wanted to try; dust off your bike and take a ride; go to the movies or a book signing. You might never want a partner once you discover the benefits of going on your own. Some of my favorites are:
- You can do what YOU want and not have the experience ruined by someone who doesn’t appreciate the same things you do.
- You can go at your own pace (this is great for hiking, running, biking or sightseeing) and do as much or as little as you want. Like to cram in a full day? Go for it. No one will slow you down. Feel like quitting early and taking a nap or lingering at a site or piece of artwork? Feel free. No one will nag you to keep going.
- You can set your own schedule. Early riser? Get an early start. Like to sleep in? Go when you get up.
- You only have to plan for your own needs and carry your own supplies. It’s faster and far less effort than trying to plan for a partner, too, or a whole group. For example, I like hiking a lot better now that I’m not carrying a pack with snacks and supplies for the kids – and a kid or two, too!
- You’ll always have good company – your own.
6. Rekindle friendships and family relationships. If you’re like many divorced moms, extended family relationships and friendships may have taken a back seat to family troubles at home. Now is a great time to reconnect and get back into circulation with people who feel safe and comfortable.
7. Plan a girls’ night out or host some friends in your home for game or movie night. Following up on #6, invite some friends (and maybe some cousins or sisters, too) to head out for an evening of fun. Or host a game night, movie night, or potluck dinner. The conversation and laughter will brighten your home and your spirits.
8. Volunteer – regularly, or just on occasion where you see a need. Seeing beyond our own pain helps connect us with the larger world, and we can do some good while we’re at it. If you’ve had a nudge to do something specific, follow it. If not, service can be as simple as trading babysitting with another divorced mom or cooking a meal for an elderly neighbor or picking up trash in the park while your kids are playing. No matter what you do, it usually lifts your spirits.
9. You’re in charge – enjoy it. Appreciate being the boss – no spouse to argue with about discipline or the condition of the kids’ rooms. With your kids, your food, your time, do it your way. (Of course, with the older kids, there are some limits, but you get the idea!)
10. Take pictures of your outings and events. You can share them with friends and family and on social media like Facebook. You’ll enjoy your adventure twice when you relive the memories. If you post your pictures online, you may inspire others, too. Who knows? You may connect with someone to share the next adventure – but only if you want to!
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