Many times its much easier to focus on all the things that change (for the worse) when you get divorced and become a single mom. Things do change but you have the power to change the narrative and make it work for you. Being positive despite the odds involves being intentional about the process but you can do it.
Here are 12 post-divorce negatives that, with the right attitude can be turned into a positive.
1. Sleeping alone. There’s no need to share covers, no snoring, no fighting over temperature control, and you can eat in bed. You can make the most of your space until the right person comes along. Also, there’s more space for kids to snuggle even when they are teens or older. Mine still do! Caveat; you can get so comfortable with your space that sharing becomes a major issue.
2. No one to talk to at night. Get productive. My laptop was in bed with me the first three years, and I published quite a bit. You can journal or, better yet, catch up on Bravo shows and Lifetime television for women. With Netflix and Amazon Prime, the sky’s the limit. You could also just get more sleep, It does wonders for the skin. And surely you’ve a friend or relative to call when you need to hear a voice other than the one in your head. And, never forget, with Facebook, none of us are ever alone.
3. Lack of regular sex. If you’re being honest, it probably wasn’t always steady, and many times your ex wanted to and you were soooo tired. Or, worse yet, he was too tired for sex. My answer to this is exercise, yoga, and adult friendly toys until you’re ready to get back out there.
4. Dinners alone. You get to decide what everyone eats, and you don’t have to check with anyone. The kids are yours to feed—that’s it! You also learn to dine alone when the kids are with Dad. I have always enjoyed personal time, but if you didn’t, this is a time to grow that part of you.
5. Traveling alone with the kids or alone. You get to decide where and when you travel. That’s fun. According to Yahoo! Travel, one of the trips you should take before you die is a solo trip. This could be the one you do when kids are with their dad. People are also kinder to you and more willing to help and tolerate screaming, bratty kids if you are a single mom. Milk it when you can.
6. Can’t afford as many vacations. Figure out ways to create amazing staycations. Explore parts of your city you only visit when you have out-of-town guests. Volunteer with the kids locally. This is an opportunity for the kids to give back and to realize that there are always people less fortunate than they are. Remember, we can spin the narrative any way we want, and kids look to us as they interpret situations.
7. Income issues. You get to exercise parts of your brain that may have been dormant when you were married. Overseeing finances and budgeting can be hard if you’ve never done it (in my case, I took care of the kids, and he took care of our finances), but trust me, that’s an area for growth. Now I know all about investing, market trends, and retirement plans, and I feel like a well-rounded woman.
8. Miss the kids when they are away with Dad. This is a good problem to have. If this is happening to you, it means your co-parent has an active role in the children’s lives and spends time with them. In my case, he does, and I have had days or entire weekends when I moped or missed them. Instead of wondering how they are doing, what he’s buying them, or if they are hanging with the new girlfriend, just think of that time as a well-deserved staycation. As moms (single or married), we hardly get protected time for ourselves, so when you do, please enjoy yourself guilt free.
Read a book, get your nails done, go to the spa, go to the gym, go shopping (if you can afford to), hang out with friends, or take a vacation. If these times with Dad are regular and scheduled, you could take classes. Over the decade, I have taken dance classes, language classes, and art classes; joined book clubs; traveled with friends; and volunteered. Next up is improv classes and becoming a certified Zumba instructor. Talk about making use of time!
9. Having to downsize. That’s OK if that’s what makes financial sense. It’s your life—don’t compare yourself to anyone else. The bonuses include lower heating and air-conditioning bills (Chicago extremes!) and less space to store junk.
10. Don’t have time to do anything for yourself. I agree that time is tight, especially when you are taking on the jobs of Mom and Dad as well as possibly working outside the home. Especially worse if your co-parent is not involved, and you don’t get the time off I mentioned above. That said, you can always make time. Look at your day and see where you can carve out an hour for yourself before bed. If not daily, then two to three times per week. You can get older kids to help out or share sitters with a neighbor or friend. Be creative. We always are!
11. Broken traditions. This can be a real heartbreaker, but only if you let it. While the traditions are hard, especially the ones around holidays, this is the time to make new memories and create new traditions. Sometimes the children even enjoy doing things twice around the holidays. We never miss putting up the Christmas tree with the radio blaring carols wearing our goofy hats and sipping hot chocolate.
12. Dating again is scary. This is true, and yes, you are older. However, you are wiser, sexier, and know who you are and what you want. You are a grown woman and this is a great thing. This could be the beginning of phase two or a fabulous plan B. Get out there and own your awesomeness!
I am definitely not Ms. Sunny Sunshine or a Pollyanna but I do know that we have the power to create our own narrative and that starts with being positive in all aspects…our thoughts, words, and actions.