I *think* that many of you have been with me for awhile, but for those a you that are new, my children's father still lives in The Great White North. This means that we cannot have joint physical custody, which is pretty common in my part of The South, nor can we have the every other weekend/one night a week dinner visit that is more common in The Great White North. In actuality, I'm only without my children a handful of times a year ~ Heck, I've been at this blogging thing for almost two years, and in that time, my children have only been with their dad five times as evidenced by THIS most recent post. I consider this a true blessing~ but when I am without them, it's usually for at least a week and it's usually around a holiday. Add to that, that because I'm a teacher, I usually have off from work while they are gone, so I cannot distract myself.
How do I survive the time, especially at times of year when everything is family-centered, without my children?
It stinks. I'm not even going to lie. That said, I've learned to make the best of, and dare I say, even enjoy, my time off, because it is so rare.
Here's my advice:
Allow yourself to mope. It stinks. It's okay.
- I've been known to spend the first night away from my kids on my couch with a movie and an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's!
As finances allow, socialize!
- Go out to dinner with friends, catch a movie, host something at your own house. Whatever suits your fancy, as long as you surround yourself with people who will support you, because you don't have to spring for a sitter!
Let people know what you need!
- It took awhile, but I learned to tell my friends that I did need to be checked in on. I did want people to call and text and invite me to do things, but that came with the understanding that they wouldn't get insulted if I said no and would keep asking even if I said no 10 times ~which hasn't happened yet, I'm usually always happy to get out of the house.
Clean the house.
- Seriously, from top to bottom. You know why? Without the kids, it actually STAYS CLEAN!!!
Don't necessarily accept the first invitation you get.
- I had no less than three this Thanksgiving; one from my sister and at least two from friends. I was raised to always accept the first offer, but as a single mom, I've learned that I need to weigh my options and decide in what place I will be most likely to enjoy myself. I'm lucky in that my family and friends are supper supportive... they want me to enjoy myself and not be sad. This year, I opted to go with a coworker who's family I didn't actually know that well. Why? They were having a HUGE dinner party ~ 47 people~ so I figured the sheer number would keep me distracted and it did. It was fun!
There you have it: My advice on how to get through the holidays when you don't have your children. It's taken me awhile to fine tune how I do things, but I've got a pretty good handle on it now. Remember, though, of course you are going to miss your children! It's okay, you are supposed to. Just don't let it take away from enjoying the holiday for you.