Secretly Dreading Christmas?

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It’s not quite December, yet already the customary Christmas madness is creeping in. Here in the UK it seems like every other advert on TV is showing happy families gathered around the Christmas table, tucking into a festive feast – or snuggled up and cosy around a Christmas tree, a small child squealing with delight at the perfect gift, whilst its proud parents hold hands and smile indulgently.

But what if you can’t see any chance of achieving that happy scene? Christmas can seem like an especially cruel way of reminding you that you and your little family don’t fit in to those idealised ideas. I still remember my first Christmas as a single mum and how very bleak that midwinter was for me. Despite the valiant attempts of my mum and dad and my two sisters to create some Christmas cheer, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that it was my baby’s very first Christmas and his father wasn’t there. I had no home of my own, very little money – even to buy presents – and the future looked anything but rosy. Then later on (and still to this day) came the challenge of Christmas without my children, as their dad claimed his turn.

If you are secretly dreading Christmas then please know you are not alone. Through my own 13 years’ experience and by talking to many other single mums, I’ve gathered together a treasure trove of tips and tricks to help you to not only survive Christmas this year but make it memorable for all the right reasons.

This audio recording will provide you with a host of encouraging tips and tricks for not only coping with Christmas as a single mum but making it memorable for all the right reasons.

Click here for your free audio guide

http://bit.ly/1lpKU5y

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Why Macaroni Cheese Matters

Yesterday my 18 year old made macaroni cheese for the family’s supper. Nothing groundbreaking about that, you may think (although those of you with teenagers may already be recognising how momentous and unusual this event this is!) The thing is, he wasn’t asked to do it, or doing it because he felt he should – he genuinely wanted to cook for us.

To put this into context, my youngest is a keen cook and regularly treats us to home made bread and other delicacies – he made a delicious apple crumble the other day with apples from Granny’s garden. His elder brother, however, is not only an extremely fussy eater with an alarming penchant for fast food and ready meals, but also very preoccupied with girlfriend, work, college and all the important things, like going out with friends, marathon film viewing or X-box sessions. Most weeks now I ask him what his plans are, so that we can make the most of him when he’s at home and available.  I am well aware that my time with him living at home is finite.  Luckily, we love his girlfriend and my house is like a second home to her now but my son is an ambitious and talented young man and he’ll be wanting a place of his own before too long, more than likely with her. I am so proud of the life and career I can already see him carving out for himself, in his deeply-felt values, skills and determination and when he makes his mark on the world (as he surely will) I’ll be there, cheering  him on from the sidelines as always.

I suppose what touches me most these days are those small but important signs that family is still important to him, that he is still thinking of me and appreciating my support and encouragement. A quote I love about parenting is that you must give your children both roots and wings, and that is what I’ve always tried to do as a parent. So, you see, Macaroni Cheese matters  – and guess what? It was delicious!

If you would like a free SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL STRATEGY SESSION with me via phone or Skype, I’d be delighted to speak to you. Book now with this link: http://meetme.so/VivienneSmithsingle mum's survival guide logo

Valentine’s Day – a Single Mum’s Nightmare?

Whether you feel it’s a commercially-motivated, overrated event or a time to express true love, it’s hard to ignore Valentine’s Day. This is especially true when you’re single! So how can you celebrate the day and get something valuable out of it, rather than sitting home alone this evening and bemoaning your date-less existence?

I have two suggestions for your consideration. The first is to sit down with a pen and paper and write out a detailed and comprehensive Perfect Partner list. Now, to begin with this may seem like rubbing salt into the wound but just bear with me… By committing all the desirable attitudes of your perfect partner to paper you are attracting to you that which you yearn for. It may not happen overnight, but when he shows up at least you’ll be able to recognise him from your list! Make sure you are focusing on what you want, however, not what you don’t want – or it may have quite the reverse effect! Then, being brutally honest with yourself, write down the kind of person you need to be to be in order to attract somebody like this into your life. This is to remind you that a great relationship relies on two people showing up and putting in equal effort, attitude and commitment.

My second suggestion is to make a date with yourself, to really show yourself the love and appreciation you deserve. You don’t need to wait for someone else to cherish you – why not get started straight away?Join me live online this coming Wednesday at 8 pm GMT when I interview Sophrology Teacher Florence Parot. We’ll be exploring how to sleep better, boost our energy and alleviate stress. She’ll actually guide us through some easy exercises, too. So make a date and treat yourself – your kids will thank you for it!

Your next free webinar, with special guest Florence Parot – Burnout, Stress and Sleep expert, Sophrology Teacher.

Florence Parot

Special Guest Florence Parot

Wed 18th February 2015, 8 pm GMT.
Click here to register: http://bit.ly/1EoNNuk

Meditation equals Inspiration!

I was reminded today just how beneficial meditation can be. Have you tried it yet? Once considered the preserve of the peace and love clan, some believed you had to be wearing orange robes or belong to a hippy commune to really qualify. These days everyone claims to be doing it. Business leaders swear by it and scientists claim that it increases mental capacity, improves your attention span and resilience. Devotees declare that it decreases anxiety, stress and even depression, whilst boosting your ability to gain a balanced perspective. But can all these extravagant claims really be true? And don’t you need several hours and a mountain retreat to really achieve that state of calm, peace and heightened awareness sometimes referred to as the Alpha State?

The good news is that all you need is a little practice and some good instructions. You will even gain tremendously from just devoting a few minutes a day. It’s free, it’s freeing and it does wonders for every area of your life.  After a day of guided meditation, I arrived home feeling energised, inspired and rested. In a few short hours hours I then achieved all the tasks that I wanted to complete today. Far from regretting spending the day focused on myself (which you’ll know can feel tremendously selfish as a mother) it reinforced for me that women are so good at taking care of others and worrying about the needs of their families, they sometimes forget to nurture themselves. So taking the time out actually makes the rest of your time more productive, peaceful and rewarding. It also means you have more to give to your loved ones. Sound too good to be true? Join me live online this coming Wednesday at 8 pm GMT when I interview Meditation Teacher Samantha Goodchild. We’ll be discussing how meditation can help you to increase relaxation and reduce anxiety. She’ll actually guide us through some easy exercises, too. So make a date and treat yourself – your kids will thank you for it!

Your next free webinar, with special guest Sam Goodchild, Meditation Teacher.
Wed 4th February 2015, 8 pm GMT.
Click here to register: http://bit.ly/1EoNNuk

Love Is a Verb

4TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARYToday is my 5th Wedding Anniversary and I have naturally been musing on love and marriage. You could say I’m the marrying kind – after all, this is my third marriage! Dizzy Romantic? Hopeless Idealist? Well perhaps once upon a time but two divorces and a good deal of hardship and heartache must have knocked all that out of me, wouldn’t you think? It’s a testament to my husband, really, that I would even consider walking down the aisle again and risk having my heart broken again – but I did it gladly, with my eyes wide open, and I’d do it all over again.

I’ve learnt that love is a magical feeling – that feeling you get when you catch sight of him and your heart does a little flip or the warm inner glow that you have when you’re apart and you think of times you’ve spent together. It’s a smile, a kiss, a hug. It’s physical. It makes you feel unreasonably, contagiously happy.

But perhaps more importantly: love is a verb. It’s not static and it requires action in order to flourish and thrive. My husband shows me how much he loves me in the many things he does. It could be the fact that he always senses when I’m not happy or if I’m awake worrying. If I’m feeling weary and procrastinating over some chore he’ll offer to come and keep me company. When we do things together it’s always quicker and more fun. It could be his many thoughtful and generous words  and deeds – or the fact that he’s fiercely protective of me and always on my side, always ready to back me and support me in any project. It could be the many hours he’s devoted to my children – whether it’s helping with revision or homework or discussing their thoughts and plans, or spending time having fun with them. And yes, I know that he loves them too and it just comes naturally to him but it’s something I will never take for granted.

Love is a verb. I saw that throughout my years as a single mum and I see it now that I’m happily married.

RB and boys Eiffel Toweri’ll never forget it and I try to live that way – in my marriage and most definitely with my children.

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

http://www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com

vivienne@thelifeyoudeserve.co.uk

Nature or Nurture?

My youngest son and I went to another exhibition today – an artist’s open house, part of the Brighton Arts festival. It was a very exciting day for me, as I got to meet an acclaimed watercolourist named Ilana Richardson whose work I have been collecting (albeit in poster form) since I was a young art student, living in London. Her paintings are set in sunnier climes- often the Mediterranean- and the depiction of light, shadow and colour is superb. You can feel the warmth of the sunshine and imagine you are there, in some sleepy Greek or Italian hilltop village, overlooking the sea. What made the occasion extra special, though, is that I got to see things through my son’s eyes. He even chose a postcard of one of her paintings of Venice and the first thing he did when we got home was to find a frame for it and proudly display it in his room.

 

Ilana Richardson 2

Sometimes, when  you become immersed in the day to day business of raising children  you forget the true rewards – the fact that as they grow older you can share ideas and interests, the wonderful knowledge that you have helped to shape their characters and show them some of the world that’s important to you.

We struck up a conversation whilst we were there, with the wife of a ceramic artist. She was telling us how, as a child, she had always been fascinated by fashion. Her parents, although in that industry themselves, had insisted that she get a “proper” degree and she let that ambition go. We joked about how it was always the parents who got the blame and she laughingly told my son that after the age of 30 he would no longer be able to blame me  for any of his mistakes or shortcomings,  but that he could also take full credit for all his achievements. I think she may have a point. Do you agree?

“THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces And Build a Happy New Life” is available to order on Amazon and hits the shops on 1st July. Visit my website, http://www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com.

The Family That Eats Together Stays Together

My family, plus my son’s girlfriend have just polished off a big roast lamb with all the trimmings. It’s important for us to eat supper together during the week because I think otherwise it would be so easy to stop communicating – even just basic stuff like telling jokes or reliving memories or discussing what everyone in the family is up to at the moment. In these antisocial days of technology I can see that if I let them, everyone would be gobbling their food in front of the laptop or iPad or TV, completely immersed and failing to engage in that most old-fashioned of concepts: having a conversation! At weekends I try to keep to the same policy for at least one meal per day – we all sit down as a family.

With teenagers you need to deliberately and regularly create opportunities for interaction, or it’s easy to temporarily lose touch and become strangers living under the same roof and only having perfunctory discussions about laundry or revision, rather than allowing time for them to share the things that are really important to them at the moment. I feel very privileged when my sons confide in me and ask my advice about something. I also try very hard to keep in mind how lucky I am when one of my boys wanders unannounced into my office or bedroom, flops down and starts telling me about their day. Whichever “urgent” task I’m in the middle of can surely wait a bit whilst I listen – after all, they’re my most important priority!

Do you have a similar policy in your household, or maybe you’d like to share some other tips for keeping communication channels open with your child? Leave your comments in the form below.

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

Visit my website: http://www.thesinglemumssurvivalguide.com