Why The Breakdown of a Relationship is Like Renovating a House

single mum's survival guide logoI’m right in the middle of renovating at the moment and it strikes me how closely the process parallels the breakdown of a relationship. In my case, the renovation is currently focused on my kitchen. Several years ago, when my old kitchen was newly-decorated, I had high hopes for its longevity. It was clean and smart and fresh and I loved it. Admittedly, it didn’t have everything I wanted, so I had compromised on certain things but it made me happy and I was (as ever) optimistic about the future.

But then came the day when I realised that it had become a major problem. It was, quite literally, falling apart. Help came, as it so often does, from a familiar source and just when I needed it. My sister offered to buy my share of our family property in London, which would make possible – not only the kitchen renovation – but all sorts of other much-needed improvements.

My husband (always critical of my house because he is a dissatisfied soul and it has never been tidy enough or luxurious enough in his eyes) reluctantly agreed to help with the project. He listened politely whilst I enthused about colours and materials and how much better life would be once we’d made the changes. He even helped demolish half the cabinets and unload the new flat-pack furniture. But then he left, in the hope of finding a shinier, more aspirational property which was already perfect and would require no work and we were left with the chaos.

Luckily, the boys and I have always been a great team and so we got to work creating a new space for the three of us to enjoy and feel proud of. Clearing the rest of the room has been hard, heavy, back-breaking work and has required multiple trips to the tip to get rid of the old and make way for the new. The floor was the hardest. At first it seemed that the old tiles would be easy to chip away. But it was slow and painful work and all three of us suffered cuts and bruises. We uncovered lots of unexpected issues, including a gaping hole and places where what we thought was a solid foundation had been built on crumbling sand. It was time to enlist professional help to smooth out the floor and provide a clear, level base on which to build. But we can’t use it yet, because it takes time to dry.

Are we there yet? Not quite. There are more challenges to come and some days we’ve felt weak and discouraged. The contents of the kitchen seem to have spread all over the house; it’s slow and difficult to manoeuvre and it has made even the simplest of daily tasks exhausting.

My sons have been amazing, though, and we’ve had so many laughs working together on this project. We’ve nearly finished building all the new cabinets and next week it will all start to come together. All the blood, sweat and tears will eventually become a distant memory but the sense of pride and achievement will remain, as will the bond I have with my boys.

vivienne@thelifeyoudeserve.co.uk
www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com 
@SingleMumsGuide
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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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Happy Mother’s Day

I was treated to Mother’s Day breakfast, cards and gifts in bed today; the last picture is of the handmade cards that I made this morning for my mum and my sister (it’s her birthday today), inspired by these pretty mugs.

Yes, I know it’s not Mother’s Day yet elsewhere in the world, but if you’re not currently living in the UK, why not share in ours? It’s always good to celebrate!

I was having a long chat with my youngest the other day. He has a lot on his mind at the moment. GCSE exams are looming, he has a part time job and all the pressures of a friendship group going through huge changes and trying to find their place in the world. We always feel better after these heart-to-hearts and because I know him so well I can empathise and make suggestions that I know will resonate with him.

It reminded me that from the time I was a little girl, through my teens and early 20s and even now at 49, there have been times when only my mum will do! Whether I was at a loose end, feeling at odds with the world or coping with a crisis, my mum could always be relied upon to care enough to give me sound advice, cheer me up or give me a good talking to if required. When I was ill in bed she had a wonderful way of making me feel cherished with a soothing drink or something tempting on a tray. She’s nearly 87 now, so I know that the time I have with her is extra precious.

I also know, this Mother’s Day that however independent and grown-up my boys may get, it will always be my job to be there, to pay attention and to care enough to listen and be that safe port in the storm. After all, I’m the one person who knows and loves them best. So Happy Mother’s day to all of you! Keep up the good work and remember that you are irreplaceable!

www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com

 

The Gift of Relaxation

I know only too well how elusive relaxation can be for a single mum. There’s always something to do, someone to take care of or someone to worry about and it’s very hard to make yourself relax, even if it’s just what the doctor ordered. The fact is that the more you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to take care of your children and a burnt out, stressed-out version of you is little use to anyone. Whatever trials or turmoil is going on in your life right now, you owe it to yourself and your kids to learn how to relax and recharge your batteries. I am a trained hypnosis practitioner and I have used hypnosis with clients in person, on the phone or Skype or via a recording to help them improve many aspects of their lives. It’s a wonderful tool to bypass the busy rational brain and speak to the subconscious mind, enabling recipients to relax and take on board beneficial suggestions while they go on a lovely daydream. I’m just the tour guide, helping you to help yourself to deeply relax and allow positive shifts to take place in your patterns of thought.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas Eve. 

Today’s gift is the gift of 30 minutes relaxation, via this relaxation and anxiety release hypnosis track I recorded. This kind of hypnosis is merely designed to take you to a state of deep relaxation, so it’s best to listen to it just before you go to sleep, or when you have half an hour to yourself when you are fairly certain you won’t be disturbed. Never listen to a hypnosis track while driving or operating machinery. It’s best if you are sitting comfortably, or lying down. Headphones will give you the best experience. If you need to awaken, you will do so easily but in the meantime, just relax and enjoy the journey. Please note, due to the length of the file, Google cannot scan it for viruses and therefore it will ask you whether you wish to download it. Rest assured, it’s virus free, so just click “download anyway” and settle down to listen.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx9s8ZJU61MUNV9zMlFUQ2M5UWc/view?usp=sharing

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If you would like my help and advice over the Christmas period, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me.

 

Peace on Earth this Christmas?

keep calmPutting aside the twinkly lights and the tinsel, the presents and the food, Christmas is often the time of year that highlights our relationship problems. Statistics show that most families succumb to the pressure of this enforced jolliness and togetherness – it’s when the cracks can show in even the most happy households. One survey I read claimed that the average British family will have at least five arguments on Christmas Day – with the first row taking place at 10.13 am! There is certainly evidence that Christmas puts a strain on couples. Statistics show that January is the busiest month for divorce lawyers. For single mums, it’s a time when many find themselves feeling nostalgic for a past relationship or feeling bitter that they are alone at such a poignant time of year. Anger and sadness can come to the surface and spill over just when we’re trying to be the very spirit of Christmas cheer for our children, friends and extended families and try as we might, once the emotions have come up it’s tough to put them neatly back in the box and seal the lid again.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible, as well as passing on a few treats just for you. I’ll be sending you a little something every day between now and Christmas. 

Today’s gift is an exercise to help you let go of your past relationship and all the unresolved feelings you still have about it. This is a letter you never have to send, yet it enables you to express exactly how you feel about your ex – even if you have mixed emotions. Just go through each question, giving your answer or finishing the sentence – either in your head or on a piece of paper. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards!

END OF THE RELATIONSHIP EXERCISE

  1. When your name comes up or I think of you I feel …
  2. Something is important here; otherwise I would not be feeling this negative emotion. What is it that I want?
  3. I am still angry with you for….
  4. I am sad because I think you should have …..
  5. I wish we could have…..
  6. The things I didn’t like about our relationship were….
  7. In future relationships, I want less….
  8. I want to acknowledge me for…..
  9. I enriched your life by…..
  10. I need to forgive you for …..
  11. I want to acknowledge you for …..
  12. The biggest benefit of having a relationship with you was (if there was a benefit, what would it be?)……
  13. The things I liked about our relationship were….
  14. In future relationships, I want more….
  15. Through knowing you I learned…..
  16. This has given me…..
  17. I am angry with myself for …..
  18. Sometimes you reminded me of …..
  19. And I reacted by…..
  20. I am sad because I think I should have …..
  21. I am sorry for…..
  22. I need to forgive myself for sometimes…..
  23. I want to acknowledge you for …..
  24. I wish for you…..
  25. I wish for myself…..

If you would like my help and advice over the Christmas period, do visit my website www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com, where you can find a free audio on Coping with Christmas or sign up for a free one to one session with me.single mum's survival guide logo

A Nativity Nightmare?

single mum's survival guide logoA colleague was telling me about her niece’s Nativity play; apparently it was a little confusing because it was totally non-religious, so there was a Mary but no Baby Jesus! In fact, she wasn’t entirely sure it was called a Nativity play, but she couldn’t think how to describe it otherwise! However, the kids did brilliantly and acted and sang their little hearts out, so it was very heart-warming. I still have a photo of my eldest dressed in his costume as…a camel. He was about three and a half at the time and though I say so myself, the costume was a triumph of ingenuity. I’d cut up one of my Dad’s old dressing gowns and made him a hump and a tail and a pair of camel ears on a headband. In the photo, the headband has slipped too far down over his eyes but he is squinting manfully at the camera and putting on his cheeky grin.

They are far too old to be doing one now, but when it came to the annual school nativity play in their primary school I used to take a wad of tissues in my bag, as it always brought our family situation home to me in a very poignant way. Christmas and other holidays can sometimes present a problem; there are events, occasions and rituals that have a special significance or sentimental attachment for everyone and I have found at times like these that memories and emotions can still knock me sideways–even now. Even when you think that you’re all sorted and reconciled to the way your new life is these days, don’t beat yourself up or feel embarrassed if you occasionally find it’s all too much to cope with. You’re only human after all and you’ve been so brave and worked so hard to get to where you are now. However: not only do our kids have two homes, but they also have two Christmases and for children this can be quite a bonus! So there are always different ways of looking at it.

SMSG webinar pic 1If you’d like my help to sail through Christmas, I am offering a free hour’s Strategy Session via Skype or telephone. It might just give you the strength and the strategies to make it through the holidays in one piece and at peace with your situation. Click here to book your hour with me FREE SESSION.

You might also like to listen to my free audio, “Coping With Christmas”. Click here to gain access to your FREE AUDIO GUIDE.

Are You Feeling Less Than Festive This Christmas?

single mum's survival guide logoThe countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun. Whilst shopping one day (and walking past row upon row of Christmas “bargains”) I overheard a woman talking to her friend about trying to get into the festive spirit for her children’s sake; it was obviously proving to be a struggle, because she herself wasn’t feeling full of Christmas cheer. Remembering past years when life was a struggle and I wished that Christmas could either be cancelled altogether or at least put on hold, I really sympathised with her sentiments.

I know that many parents – single mums in particular- feel under tremendous pressure at this time of year. Will the tree be sparkly enough? Will the meal be delicious and served on time? Will everyone get on? Despite the budgetary cuts suffered by Father (and Mother) Christmas in recent times, will the stocking at the foot of the bed and all those gifts under the tree be amazing enough to satisfy this new generation of technology-hungry children? For a time that’s meant to be merry and full of goodwill, Christmas certainly comes at a price in more ways than one.

Whatever your thoughts, hopes and plans this Christmas, I’d like to help you to make it as stress-free as possible.

Click here to access your free audio guide to Coping With ChristmasSMSG webinar pic 1