A Break Doesn’t Need to be Heartbreaking

single mum's survival guide logoIt’s the Easter holidays. Most mums are currently experiencing both the joys of having their children at home for the Easter Holidays and the slightly frazzled feeling of having to be Chef, Children’s Argument Umpire and Chief Entertainment Officer. Not me though – my boys have flown off to Portugal with their Dad for the entire two weeks.

In the old days I found letting them go almost unbearable, much as I needed a break and the chance to recharge my batteries and catch up on chores and my social life. When they were tiny I used to wander into their empty rooms once they’d been collected and have a little cry before giving myself a stern pep talk and trying to snap out of it. I worried about whether the baby had enough nappies and clothes, whether my little boy had his favourite toy and books and whether they’d be missing their mum and home as desperately as I was missing them.

These days, at 16 (nearly 17) and 20, they are quite old enough to relish the prospect of being away from home for 2 weeks – especially as we can message each other via Facebook or email. The fact that they are gone for the whole holiday wasn’t really something I was consulted on – it was presented as more of a fait accompli. Once upon a time I might have railed against this (in fact I remember doing so in the past when their grandma booked a holiday with them without my prior permission). What steadied me at that time and what I remember to ask now is: what would make the boys happy? Being in the sunshine with a pool, the beach and the other part of their family is definitely something that makes them happy. How churlish would I be to object to that? Besides, what’s the upside of this for me? It’s a chance to catch up with laundry and housework, do some writing and research for my Single Mum’s Survival Guide online course. I can meet up with friends, have my boyfriend to stay and plan my own agenda without having to accommodate anyone else’s.

So this Easter I will be grateful for the freedom, mindful to choose my battles wisely (or walk away from them altogether) and I’ll remember that what makes my children happy makes me happy. I wish you all a happy and peaceful holidays, whatever you are doing.daffodil basket

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Easter – A Time of New Beginnings

Easter Bunny 001It was recently announced that Cadburys would be removing the word “Easter” from their chocolate eggs, for fear of offending some of their potential customers. To me, this just seems ridiculous! But it did get me thinking about what Easter means to people, in the broader sense.

A small child might well answer “chocolate”! My boys are too old for them now, but I remember what fun we used to have on our traditional family Easter Egg Hunt. The location was generally my sister’s garden, or in my mum’s lovely old house. Her house is an ideal location – full of handy wooden beams, nooks and crannies and endless jugs, pots, boxes and containers which make the perfect hidey-hole. We adults would hide the eggs, of course and sometimes follow the smaller ones around, dropping useful hints about where to look. Eating the spoils was certainly part of the appeal for all the children, but amassing a larger haul than your siblings or cousins seemed to be equally important.

So, what does Easter mean to you as an adult? For many, it is about rebirth and new beginnings. Did you know that you can start a brand new 24 hours at any time of the day you want? It’s never too late to make a fresh start. You can use this Easter weekend as a time to have fun with the kids and reinforce family traditions. You can also use it to decide exactly what new beginning you want in your life. However: what if you find it far easier to decide what you don’t want, rather than decide on what you do? Try turning the “don’t want” statement on its head and creating the thing you do want – i.e. the opposite.

What kind of parent do you want to be?

What kind of co-parenting relationship do you want with your ex?

How do you want your home to look, feel, smell and sound when you walk through the door?

What kind of memories and traditions do you want to leave your child, what kind of legacy?

And when would now be a good time to begin that new beginning?

The Single Mum's Survival Guide - Easter Blog

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What Did the Easter Mummy Bring This Year?

Today I got up early to decorate the breakfast table with chicks and bunnies and everyone got their own Easter Egg and a hand-painted card from me. What do you and your children do at Easter? Sometimes it can seem a bit of an effort to celebrate over the holiday period, when you are imagining all those “perfect” families doing the traditional things and here you are, a single mum who has to think up all the festivities and put in extra effort all by yourself to keep everything happy and rosy. In this extract from the book we look at building family traditions and creating those memories for your child to look back on.

Kayleigh.now I always have my camera or my phone and you get to look back and relive those memories. So now with my grandson, I’m making sure that my son and I are taking lots of pictures so I’m passing that down too. When my son got a little bit older we would go out to breakfast on a couple of Saturday each month and he would have to put all these quarters into the machine to get the toy, and that was a little tradition. Christmas was always with my family so we’d get in the car the night before and he’d have the same tradition that I had growing up, so the room with the Christmas tree in would be closed off and Santa would be in there with the cookies and the glass of milk and he wouldn’t be able to see until we were all up and they would draw the curtain back to the family room and then we would all go in. At Easter he would colour in his Easter egg and then he’d have to go look for his Easter basket, so those were some of the holiday traditions that we had.
You, too, can become the keeper of the family heritage. However tiring it is to do all this yourself, building family traditions for you and your child will ensure that you both have a treasure box of memories to delight in. Rituals and traditions are such a huge part of every culture and a great source of comfort and joy for people of all ages. Life may not have turned out as you expected, you may not have a conventional family (whatever that may be these days) but you can start creating that rich and colourful family history, those wonderful family traditions right where you are now. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your child. And don’t forget to make a record of it in some way. The photos or videos will bring it all back and provide a talking point for years to come.

“THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is available to order now from Amazon.

Is Chocolate a Single Mum’s Best Friend?

As Easter approaches, the chocoholics among us who try to eat healthily the rest of the time are presented with a dilemma. Your internal dialogue might perhaps sound something like this: “I know it’s Easter and chocolate is everywhere, but the more I eat the more I want, so this year I’m going to be really sensible and ask everyone not to tempt me. Easter eggs are for the children, after all and I can always “regift” them if someone gives me some chocolates. Just think how virtuous I’ll feel….On the other hand, I do really BADLY want some of that chocolate. And I have had a really tough day! Just one mini egg won’t do any harm and it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? Mmm, that tasted good. I wonder what the other fillings taste like? Maybe the best thing is just to finish these up now and then there won’t be any left to tempt me (until the next time)”…

Here’s an extract from my book, “THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE” about comfort eating:

We all know about the downside of the sugar rush–the sugar low you get afterwards. Eating too many high carbohydrate-rich or processed foods, or consuming too many sugary drinks or foods can leave you feeling sleepy, sluggish and downhearted. Most of us single Mums have succumbed to comfort eating at some point and the occasional treat is perfectly fine but take it from me, it makes you feel so much worse in the long run and you can get onto a slippery slope which is hard to get off. Before you take a bite, ask yourself first: am I actually thirsty, instead of hungry? How will this feel as it slides into my stomach – not just now but for the rest of the day? Will eating it make both my body and mind feel good in the long run? If the answer is no, consider working out which emotion is eating you, step away from the food and spend a little time paying attention to nourishing your soul and spirit instead.

For those of you who are totally out of control around chocolate, one coaching session with me will sort that out. There’s a wonderful NLP technique called “Like to Dislike” which could convert your addiction to chocolate to a total aversion. Just ask my clients – where you see a piece of delicious, creamy, smooth milk chocolate they now see something which wouldn’t tempt them in a million years! To book your session, please use the contact form below. The session can be in person or via Skype, so distance is no problem.