Three days ago, I kissed my daughter goodbye and left her with her dad for 6 days. Any single mum (or dad) will tell you that one of the hardest parts of being a single parent is sharing your children, and saying goodbye to them.
My daughter’s dad lives in Perth, and we live in Sydney, so I only have to say goodbye every few months, but it is always tough.
Some of my friends who are parents in a relationship often tell me how lucky I am to get a “break” from my daughter every few months. I don’t think I’m lucky – it hurts me every time.
It has gotten easier, particularly over the last 6 months or so, but I still feel like I am not whole when I’m without her. It’s not really a “break” either. If you have a toxic and not very healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex, it is always hard to fully relax.
I know that for the 6 days he has her, he will not allow me to talk to my daughter, and I will not receive any photos, or words to ease my worry.
The only thing that brings me comfort is knowing that as much as he dislikes me, he loves our daughter. I know he would do anything for her, is a great dad, and I know she will have lots of fun with him (and probably be very spoilt) .
At the same time, I know how important me time is, and I don’t get a lot of it being a full time single parent to a three year old. Having me time, recharging, doing something nice for yourself, time out…however you want to look at it, is ESSENTIAL to any single parent. It’s not always possible when kids are young, and I got very minimal me time until my daughter turned two. But there comes a time when you do have to prioritize yourself occasionally. For me, this means trying to ENJOY the times I have away from my daughter so I can be less tired, fresher, happier, rested, and a more patient mother.
I’m trying to make the most of it. So here I am, in Bali.
I agree, it feels a little indulgent. I don’t often whisk myself off on a holiday; heck I never have since becoming a parent (not without my daughter anyway). It’s not something I’d usually do, but now that I’m here, I’m glad I came.
Even the flight seemed like a holiday. It was only 3.5 hours but I managed to read an ENTIRE book in one sitting. That’s unheard of! At least it has been for me in the last 4 years.
If someone had suggested to me before becoming a parent to take a holiday by myself, I probably would have said NO WAY!!! Traveling is a different story, and I did do some traveling by myself before becoming a mother, but just going somewhere to RELAX for 5 days by myself? Nuh-ah!
Now I feel very comfortable in my own company. Reading, sleeping, lying in the sun, swimming, even eating – all on my own, is actually very therapeutic. Whilst I’m here, I don’t want to shop, sight-see, or be a tourist. My whole mission is just to recharge, lie in the sun, read, sleep, and eat.
As I write this now, I’m about to take a stroll along the beach. And then I’ll probably get some food, and I DON’T HAVE TO SHARE IT WITH ANYONE!! YEW!! I am feeling quite relaxed, and able to switch my mind off from worry and negativity, and simply be in the present and relax. Most of the time anyway.
Here are 7 reasons why you need me time, as a single mum.
1. You don’t get time to yourself as often as (most) other parents.
Let’s face it, most parents in a relationship can hand over the kids to the other parent, or go out by themselves from time to time without too much thought. Especially on those days where you’re about to lose it because, well… kids can be little a**holes sometimes.
As a single parent, particularly if you have your kids almost 100% of the time like me, you are unlikely to have this luxury. Parents or other family members need to be called upon, babysitters need to be arranged, or play dates need to be organised well in advance. You can’t easily step back when you’re exhausted and your child is throwing the 100th tantrum of the day, this time because their favorite dress is in the washing machine, and they NEED to wear it NOW. You know those days?
This is why it’s particularly important for us, as single mothers, to MAKE TIME FOR ME TIME. I’ll say it again. You need to make time for me time. Because otherwise you may not get it.
2. You are a mother, but you are also a person.
Remember what life was like pre-children? I often think back with mixed feelings. Sometimes I miss the life where it was always about me, me me! What did I want to do that day or night? Who did I want to see? What did I want to buy for myself? Where was my next holiday going to be? What would be my next step career wise? But when I compare it to the life that I have now, it was empty and insignificant.
Now my life is filled with a love that I couldn’t even imagine, laughter every day, and being able to see the world with fresh eyes. But life now is also rarely about putting myself first or doing what I want, which is OK – it comes with being a parent. But sometimes you need some time – even an hour or two to do what YOU love. This is particularly important for new single mums, who have often lost their identity in an unhealthy relationship.
Do something that makes you feel like the person that you used to be before you lost yourself. Perhaps it’s picking up that paintbrush again, or joining a gym. Maybe it’s training for a marathon, or enrolling in a weekly netball class. Maybe you can start reading again, or calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months. Find an activity that you used to love that you haven’t done in a while that isn’t “mum” related.
3. To take care of others, you need to take care of you.
You know how when you’re on a plane and they tell you to secure your own mask before helping others? That’s because you’re no use to anyone if you are passed out! This applies to life too. If you are burnt out and running on empty, how will you take care of your children? You will be an impatient, miserable and shouty parent. Your children will not get the best version of you. I know that when I start shouting at my daughter and losing my sh*t, it’s time for me to back up and have some me-time. I’m usually not reacting because of her behaviour, it’s because I’m tired, stressed out and run down. My daughter deserves to get her best version of mum, and so it’s in both of our best interests that I get some me time.
4. It’s nice to miss your children.
As much as it sucks to miss your children, it is also good because it makes you sooo much happier to be back together with them and helps you appreciate them that much more. Whenever I am reunited with my daughter after a few days with her dad, it is so amazing. There is squealing, laughter and tears of happiness. And that’s just me. Although my daughter’s reaction is quite similar.
5. It’s good for your health.
If you don’t have time to recharge – and work on your mind, health, body and spirit, you may end up very stressed! Stress can lead to a whole range of health issues from anxiety, to weight gain, to high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses. You can listen to my Podcast with Angela Counsel on the impacts of stress, and how to create a less stressed life here (Episode 15). But the point is, if we want to STRESS LESS and be healthier, we need time out to recharge.
6. It’s good for our happiness.
Did you know that me-time can actually make you happier? You may think how will time away from my child make me happy? Or no, it seems too selfish to do something for ME. But check out this infographic from Happify below.
Me time reboots our brains hence assisting our mental well-being, helps us unwind (and de-stress), improves our concentration and problem solving abilities, makes us more productive, allows us to re-discover ourselves, gives us time to think deeply and uninterrupted, and allows us to sit with our feelings without distraction and not avoid them (this is so essential to our healing process and helps us move forward and enjoy being on our own). It also enhances our relationships. For us, the relationships that will benefit the most, are those with our children. So if you think me time is selfish – think again. Our children will be so much happier and better off, if we are happy too.
7. Allows us to re-set.
Having me time is going to give you the quiet time you need to deal with your emotions, give you clarity, re-focus and plan your next moves, and think about and set your goals. I’m a huge believer in personal development and the positive impacts of changing our lives for the better, and in order to do this, we really need some quiet and calm to think about how we can achieve this, and take the steps to carry it out.
Obviously you don’t have to take yourself off overseas to have me time. Look out for a blog post later in the week on ideas on how you can get me time. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few pics of Bali, and my me time so far <3
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