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.

The Single Mum's Survival Guide
Personal Breakthrough Coaching



Forgiveness Is a Gift You Give Yourself


Single Mum's Survival Guide CARTOON NUMBER 11 001There was a time a few years ago when I started to have terrible dreams about all the people in my life who have hurt me or let me down. The plots changed and became a changing cast of characters over successive nights. These ranged from my first and second husbands, childhood and college friends, a scary ex-employer and a dear friend from schooldays who now has a new life and interests and no longer makes time for our friendship. The one thing they had in common was that they were all people who had left me with unresolved feelings of sadness, hurt, loss and resentment. It may well have been that writing my book and going over painful old ground had dredged up all these old wounds and brought them up for me to look at and resolve once and for all. You may well find that at a time of great stress and emotion in your life, such as the events that caused you to find yourself starting out again as a single mother, you have a similar experience of introspection. This can be a very uncomfortable process, but one thing I have learned in my own work as a transformational coach, hypnotist and Beyond NLP practitioner (not to mention in my own life) is that emotions will continue to resurface until you deal with them, so this can be a liberating and cleansing time for you if you only let it. Forgiveness of yourself and others and the process of letting go of these emotions and thoughts that no longer serve you can finally free you from the shackles that would otherwise hold you back and impede the fantastic progress that you are making with your new life.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” —Lewis B. Smedes

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” –Suzanne Somers

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” —Marianne Williamson

As you move towards the end of this year, how good would it be to move on feeling happier, lighter and freer, without the burden of resentment and bitterness? My gift today is a guided meditation to help you do just that. Find somewhere quiet you can listen to this session, close your eyes and enjoy the journey.

Click here to listen: The Forgiveness Process

If you would like my help and advice, 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.

Back To School

After a long – and surprisingly hot – summer, it’s back to school for many families as term time starts again this week. In the case of my youngest son this has involved some considerable changes; not only have we discovered that he needs glasses for reading, he’s also had to learn to tie a tie as his school uniform now includes a blazer and tie! Being the tender age of 14, once the novelty has worn off he will adapt to both these changes with ease and life will carry on as normal.

Adapting to changes as an adult can be a whole lot scarier and a good deal more difficult. If you are a newly-single mum you may be grappling with emotional changes, financial changes and all the legal implications of separation and divorce. I’d like to help you with these changes, so that you too can adapt with ease and grace and the minimal amount of panic possible. On Thursday 11th September I am co-hosting a free seminar in Brighton with a family lawyer, a financial planner and a mortgage broker. It’s your chance to get informed with free and friendly advice about the best way to deal with financial, legal and accommodation issues you may be facing – not to mention the steps you’ll need to take to build a happy new life. I’ll also be signing copies of my book. So come along for coffee and cake and a chance to “get savvy”! It’s free – all you need to do is to choose the best time for you (10 am – 12 or 7 pm – 9 pm) and book your place by emailing sparsons@mayowynnebaxter.co.uk or ringing 01273 223220. See you on the other side…

My book, “THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is available on Amazon and selected bookshops. For your free audio download entitled “How To Build a Happy New Life”, please fill in your name and email in the form below. 

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

After returning from a nice evening at the pub, followed by an Indian meal, I have been thinking about my days as a single mum and how tough it was  sometimes to let my hair down, yet what fun it was when I did. As I say in the book:

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom…! Make sure to put into practice your new sociable single girl status every once in a while and remember to have fun. I reasoned that even though I was too broke to get a babysitter I would still enjoy my friends’ company every now and then. It is true that I was usually too knackered to even contemplate those prepare-in-advance dinner party menus. However, I figured that my friends knew me well enough to perch on a kitchen stool and chat to me whilst I prepared our meal. And if I hadn’t had time to dust, well hey, I just turned the lights down low and lit a few candles; nobody was any the wiser. I remember one such occasion well. I managed to get the children tucked up in bed and fast sleep by the time my friends arrived. Whilst getting ready, I gave myself a stern talking to. I reminded myself that people said that I was intelligent and bubbly and even quite witty on occasion. But of course when you have been passed over for a younger independent single woman with her own car and flat and you are struggling to wipe baby sick off your shoulder it’s hard to convince anyone, least of all yourself, that you are good company and quite a catch really. I decide that all I could do was to try to hold my head up high, look as gorgeous as possible under the rather trying circumstances and hope that someone would see through my tired and somewhat frazzled exterior to the sophisticated and sexy woman that I hoped might still be lurking somewhere underneath. Anyway, that particular night was fun. Nobody minded that we didn’t eat dinner till ten–the food was delicious and we talked and laughed well into the night. When they had all gone I felt a sudden surge of happiness, bubbling up from under all that grief. I lit some new candles, turned the music up high and danced. I danced for the unexpected joy to be found in passages of sorrow, for the future and for the person I knew I really was. My dance was an affirmation–a mad, giddy moment where I forgot my despair and renewed my faith in myself. If someone were to ask me what the biggest surprise was in my situation I would reply that when you have been down as low as a person can go without giving up altogether, only then can you truly appreciate those precious moments of happiness that arrive from nowhere. Only then can you truly live in the present and fully make the most of the “ups” that come your way.

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

You Are Not Alone

I had a meeting with a family lawyer today; we are collaborating on a free presentation for single mums in this area. She was telling me that clients are often embarrassed when they tell her what brings them to seek her services – either because they assume she has heard it all before, or conversely because they assume that they alone have been weak enough or vulnerable enough or foolish enough to get into the predicament they are currently in. We both agreed that it was important to reassure all single mums that you are not alone. Naturally each case is unique and different but at the same time there will be similarities and common experiences running through each case. It’s one of the reasons I’m most proud of my book, because I believe that this comes across really strongly as you read through the accounts of all the wonderful single mums who agreed to tell their stories. As I tell readers at the outset:

After the break-up of my second marriage I received this wonderful letter from my counsellor. I hope that these words will inspire you, because so much of what she says will apply to you, too.
“What a distressing time you’ve been having, and what an understatement I’ve just made.I’m so relieved to hear that you are now free of X, back in your own home with locks changed and hopefully slowly managing to get back to normality.You have a lot going for you-energy, talent, good looks, a supportive and loving family and two wonderful sons.Your time with X was not a mistake, but a learning curve-despite all the dreadful things that happened, notice the strengths it brought out in you, and it did bring out strengths, you’ve kept your home, your sons are safe and so are you, all these things take strength of character and persistence, and such strengths applied in different ways will give you a wonderful future if you grant yourself that gift!!I imagine you are now having to consider divorce or are perhaps in the midst of arranging one-I think that once you are legally free, you’ll feel even better.Of course it’s sad that your relationship with X ended as it did and you will feel sad about this-don’t be ashamed to grieve, it’s a normal process even after the most horrendous relationship-we grieve what we thought the relationship was going to be and the fact that it didn’t turn out that way and that’s what makes it ‘normal.It goes without saying that I wish you every success for the future–you deserve it.”

On days when you are feeling small and alone and like nobody could possibly understand what you are going through it’s wonderfully comforting to know that others have trod this path and made their way to the other side, to recovery and a new beginning.

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

One Day at a Time

As you know, I’m a great believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone when you’re feeling strong enough but sometimes when you are trying to turn your life around – especially when it’s a struggle to imagine how it’s ever going to work out – it’s too daunting if you try and see the whole picture all at once. When I think back to those bleak days when I first had single motherhood foisted on me, everything seemed a terrible effort and nothing was certain – my finances, my feelings, my future – everything seemed upside down and jumbled up (as indeed it was). In situations like this just having one or two small goals for the day are probably enough. Apart from getting yourself and the children up and fed and off to school, work or whatever you have planned for the day, it might be enough just to sort one box of things out, or make two important phone calls – or get through a visit to the supermarket without breaking down in floods of tears at the sight of a happy family or a couple walking hand in hand. Be gentle on yourself; you may still be traumatised and in shock. Conquering the world might have to be shelved until next week but for now just love and be good to yourself and your children and take it one day at a time.

My book, “THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up the Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is in the shops on 1st July and available now to order on Amazon. For your free chapter, please enter your contact details in the form below.