Go exploring. Transitions in life can be upsetting. You may feel like your world is out of control and the ground is shifting under your feet. Vulnerable moments can open you to self-introspection. Psychology Today explains it’s a perfect time for exploring your inner world and what makes you “tick.” Contemplate your goals and what may hinder you from reaching them. Is there baggage getting in your way? Something in your environment? Are your feelings or habits inhibiting your progress? Take a step back and evaluate what drives your choices. By understanding your personal process, you can alter your path and reframe your ambitions.
Optimize your homelife. Your home should be a sanctuary, a retreat from the world where you can refresh and recharge from the rest of your life. During your time of transition, it’s especially important that your home supports your emotional, physical, and mental wellness. Simple changes in your home environment can promote your health, reducing your stress levels and helping you be happier and healthier. Redfin suggests decluttering as a first step toward creating a stress-free home environment. Improve your home’s atmosphere by adding natural elements, such as potted plants or art that reflects nature. Make sure you’re keeping healthy foods in the house so you can eat properly. Make time for fitness and drink plenty of water—seemingly small aspects of self-care will help you feel energized and stay healthy. And open your curtains! Natural light can boost your mood.
Here and now. During times of transition, you can become so focused on getting through your changes that you don’t enjoy the present. Don’t allow yourself to start seeing your world in black and white or through a lens of what could be or past regrets. Psycom recommends focusing on the moment and what is happening now instead of worrying over what the future holds. Practice deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation techniques to help you engage in the present and step away from stress.
Be grateful. Our modern-day lifestyle encourages some habits that aren’t terribly healthy in certain respects. We share our accomplishments on social media, overfill our schedules, and overcommit at work and at home. With all of our busyness and the glossy pictures painted in our electronic lives, we can get caught up in thinking we don’t have what we want. We should be more, have more, and do more. One suggestion for navigating this unhealthy cycle is to start every morning by thinking about things you appreciate in your life. Write them down in a notebook so you can begin your day focused on things you are grateful for.
Compliment others. Expressing a kind thought to someone, even a stranger, can make you feel good. By connecting with someone in a personal way, you create a vulnerable moment, which is healthy and positive. Next time you’re enjoying some time with your best friend, tell her how much she means to you, and offer something specific. “You always tell me like it is, and I count on you for that honesty.” And when’s the last time you told your mom how much you appreciate her push to finish that course you wanted to drop in school, the one that ended up being a life-changer? Tell people those great things. Some experts feel kindness to others helps you feel more positive and optimistic. You’ll find the obstacles you’re navigating seem small when you’re basking in the glow of the warmth those moments offer.
Welcoming changes. Changes in life are inevitable. Reframing your perspective can mean finding positivity and peace during your periods of transition. Enjoy the opportunities life sends your way!
A lot has been written about having a better relationship with yourself and how that can positively affect your life in all areas. I really enjoyed this article on Psychology Today with its focus on self-care as an aspect of personal development. The first one really resonates with me:
1. Set intention and cultivate awareness. Set the overarching goal, over a span of years, to keep moving toward a good relationship with yourself, with the understanding that what this entails will change over the years.
I think every women needs to have a good relationship with herself, but it becomes more urgent for single moms when you have so much responsibility resting on your shoulders alone. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if you are single by choice, married, divorced or widowed – everyone needs to be their own best friend.
There are various areas of focus in the self-care industry and everyone has moulded the words to fit their niche. “Mindfulness”, “Wellness”, “Self-care”, “Self-love” and in articles about spirituality I have mostly seen the use of “Soul-care”. My exploration of this topic has led me to some interesting new ideas too.
Have you heard of Sologamy? Well, me neither until a few days ago. Basically it means “getting married to yourself”. Making the same kind of commitment to yourself, that you would to a partner in marriage. This can take the form of a full traditional wedding ceremony with printed invitations to guests, cake and presents, or you can buy a do-it-yourself kit online complete with a ‘self-wedding ring, vows and daily affirmation cards’ at www.imarriedme.com
People have different reasons for taking this step and everyone has their own unique way of expressing self-love. For some it might be a move beyond self-love.
Just a few days later an email popped into my inbox from The Fairy Godmother and I almost couldn’t believe the serendipity of the title “I’ve Embarked on a Soul Honeymoon!”
Below is a short extract from the email:
This is my Soul Honeymoon time.
It started on Monday and will be in full focus for 2 months, possibly 3 months (maybe even more – who knows?) It’s Soft. It’s Spacious. It’s a Gift from me to me. Slowing down. Re-connecting to what gives me joy.
Re-Visioning. Creating from a place of Ease and Trust.
My full-focus on the Alignment of my Body-Mind-Soul.
Doesn’t that sound amazing?!
Taking the traditional concepts of marriage & a honeymoon and using it in a new way with a focus on self-care. Yes, it’s a completely different way of approaching the concept of self-care, but isn’t that what it is really about? Doing things in a way that only you would? Really figuring out what will be nourishment to your soul in this moment? Whether you are in the middle of a divorce, or in the aftermath right after, or already a few years down the road. Making time for yourself should be a priority.
What do you do for self-care, or soul-care or whatever name you have given to your practice of daily kindness to yourself?
Daniel has been a single dad to his daughter (9) and son (6) for three years, and valiantly admits that he doesn’t always know what the heck he’s doing – I am with you on that one Daniel!
Seeing every day as an adventure and a blessing has helped him through tough times and on his blog he shares the resources that has worked for him.
Men who suddenly find themselves as single parents face a hard, new reality that can make it difficult to be the father you want to be. If you were an active and engaged dad when married, you’re likely to find that quality time with your kids isn’t so easy to come by anymore.
When you’re married, you’re part of a natural parenting team. There was usually always someone to help share the burden when it all gets to be too much.
There’s the pressure of having to maintain a healthy home environment while being a supportive, loving father. And, just for good measure, single fathers often come up against the stigma that says men don’t make good single parents because nurturing doesn’t come naturally to them. It’s a tough scenario, and some men struggle to overcome the unique, new challenges they face.
Being both disciplinarian and supportive, sympathetic parent requires flexibility and the ability to listen. Your children may have a hard time accepting the situation if your wife took the lead where discipline was concerned. In many cases, dads feel guilty about a death, divorce or separation and may overcompensate by being too lenient when discipline is called for. In such a situation, showing tough love can be difficult, especially if your kids are still emotionally raw. Nevertheless, it’s important to stand your ground and be firm when needed. Remember that children need structure and a clear understanding of who’s in charge.
If you and your ex-spouse aren’t on good terms, chances are you can’t rely on moral support from her when it comes to the children. Dads who have a hard time with single parenthood often struggle because they have no support system, no one to share thoughts, feelings and frustrations with. Seek out friends and family when you need a sympathetic ear. If divorce has left you without many options, consider joining a support group for single fathers in your community, or on line.
Making ends meet is often a real challenge for single dads. You’re the sole breadwinner, which means you’re responsible for expenses you once shared with your ex. That can be a big hit to the wallet. If you’ve never had to budget before, you’ll have to learn now. Start by eliminating non-essentials like cable TV or eating out. It’ll be rough at first, but everyone will get used to the “new normal.”
Some single parents find it necessary to take on a second job, but that can become a problem if babysitters are hard to find, and when you start feeling run down. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be an effective parent.
Try to mark out a little time for yourself each day just to relax and think. If possible, work in a little exercise during a lunch break, or after the kids are in bed. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, getting help and making good choices are paramount, for you and your children.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a single father takes some getting used to. It’s hard work, and you’ll make a mistake now and then. Be open to help and advice from those closest to you and take care not to neglect your physical and emotional needs.
Thank you Daniel for this great article! Seeing the single-parent life from a dad’s perspective has made my realise that we might have more in common that we think.
This has been a guest post by Daniel Sherwin of Dadsolo.com
“Don’t cry over the past, it’s gone.
Don’t stress about the future, it hasn’t arrived.
Live in the present and make it beautiful.”
This has been such a tough one for me this past week. Several things triggered hurtful memories from my past and it completely overwhelmed me to the point of tears. Every. Single. Day. For an entire week. Not good people. Not good.
But a dear friend spoilt me with coffee and a much needed chat that gave me some perspective. Things are looking more hopeful this week as I continue on my path of healing.
“Life is like a piano, the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.”
How beautiful is this metaphor? It is really resonating with me as well since I started practising playing piano again after so many years this week. Pressing so many wrong notes in real life and on the piano. But as I tell my daughter: practice, practice, practice. Maybe if I look at my life’s journey as one long practice session, and stopping expecting some degree of perfection, it might help me get through it with less pressure on myself.
Preparing a healthy meal is always important for any mom, no matter your circumstances. We don’t always have the time to cook those meals and we have to find ways around it. If you have more time you can do meal prepping over weekends or you could look into a local meal delivering service.
Meal Delivery Services
I can recommend “Dinner 4 U by Lisa” in the Helderberg area, she provides healthy office lunches and dinners. New menus are uploaded weekly on her Facebook page, so make sure to check her out!
My second tip is a go-to one that I started when my daughter was still a toddler. I needed all the extra time I could get (who doesn’t?) and prepping multiple meals in one go was one way to do it. Use containers appropriate for freezing and remember to put a description and date on the lid. You’ll thank me in 6 months’ time when you find a “Frozen Wonder” at the back of the freezer – you know, you ‘wonder’ what it might be? 🙂
This is not just for die hard weight lifters and super fit millennials out there. Preparing a few meals over a weekend when you have more time (hopefully), will definitely save your sanity on a school night when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook a healthy meal.
When you cook a batch of Bolognaise sauce, or something similar, double up and freeze smaller portions for later. Why not use this awesome local recipe from Knorr.
Make sure you use lots of veggies and get creative in sneaking them into meals:
Add pureed carrot (jars of baby food) to any tomato based sauce for spaghetti or macaroni & cheese.
Add half a cup of pureed cauliflower to your cheese sauce for mac and cheese – I promise you, the taste is barely noticeable!
Add pureed spinach to any chocolate dessert – the cocoa will mask the taste and colour of the spinach.
These 4 simple words have saved my sanity a lot over the last few months. After my first divorce in 2008 a friend shared this thought with me. At first I thought it was quite harsh advice, because I was looking for sympathy and a hug. Luckily, reminding myself of this over the years has stopped me from having crooked thought patterns and going into negative overdrive. Last night it saved me when my washing machine almost broke! Being my first load of laundry in my new apartment made it a big deal when the machine suddenly started beeping nonstop and wouldn’t drain. 45 minutes later with the help of my trusty 10-year old’s help we managed to fix the issue. And really – it could have been worse! I have dry floors and clean clothes instead of a broken, leaking machine. Which would have cost an arm & leg to repair too.
Staying positive amid uncertainty is one of the hardest lessons I am learning. Letting go of worry is not my strong point, but a habit that I need to break. Being in control lets me feel calm and safe. And not knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of my future make me uncomfortable.
How do I relax?
How do I create space for these feelings of uncertainty when they break over me like never-ending waves? Suffocating me. Taking my joy.
All I know is that I have to persist in the face of doubts. Just keeping on. Pushing through. Trusting that all will be well.
Sometimes I just need to focus on this simple truth that ‘good enough’ and ‘done’ is more important. Baby steps toward a better future. There is no rush. My timing is perfect. It will all work out how it should.
Even though I may feel sad AF. And it feels like my heart is shattering into a millions pieces.
I can do this. I have done this. This time I have more wisdom on my side, and it truly helps. I know that feeling all the emotions is better than trying to deny them space.
Creating space for sadness and heartache will help lessen the pain and hopefully make healing much softer. At this point in time I don’t know exactly what my future holds and that is OK with me.
Or will I just succumb and spend the day crying in my bed…
Dealing with tough personal issues can be overwhelming and lead to numbness and not taking action.
I have learned that it is okay to flirt with sadness, but not start a relationship with it!
So this morning I had a good cry, got up when I felt better and did something good for me. For me only.
My spirits are lifted and I know that I am strong enough to get through this day…and the next…and the next.
I will rest in the knowledge that this too shall pass.