I can’t believe it’s that time again! My 3rd-grader announced from the top of the stairs this morning that they only have 6 weeks of school left. Seriously?!
In honor of the season, I’ve dug up and refreshed a MamaC favorite. The original version, published on Power of Moms, was written in 2013. Enjoy!
I’ve always anticipated the school bell on the last day, releasing the troops for summer vacation.
Yeah, I’m that mom. The crazy one who loves having her kids home.
Usually, my boys and I spend weeks brainstorming, clipping magazines, and combing Pinterest creating the perfect summer routine, with just the right balance of educational enrichment and FUN! We’re dorky like that.
But after my divorce, those days abruptly ended. Suddenly, instead of seeking out summer-prep parenting articles, I would cringe at the sight of them. Because they just reminded me that my kids would be gone for six … long … lonely weeks.
That’s how it was at first anyway. Since then, we’ve found our balance. After all, we still have half the summer together!
But that still leaves me with my ‘kidless mommy’ dilemma during the other half.
Isn’t it ironic? During my most uproarious days, when my blood pressure seems maxed out, when little people are screaming at each other and at me, I’ve wished for it: just a little bit of “me time.”
And now, for six weeks each summer, I have so much “me time” I don’t know what to do with it. I know it sounds nuts. But if you’ve been through this, I know you hear me.
I know I’m not the only mother out there in this predicament. There are others who–for whatever reason–are separated from their children during the summer (or maybe even longer than that), perhaps because of forces beyond their control.
Take strength in knowing you are not alone. And take courage in knowing there are ways you can make this time work for you!
Here are a few strategies I’ve discovered so far:
1. Ditch the guilt. Okay. Here’s the deal. You might feel bad about having all this time to yourself. You might even feel selfish about the idea of enjoying it a little.
But will torturing yourself change the fact that your children are away? No. Will having fun make the time pass faster? Yes. (By the way, I am definitely drilling this into my own brain as I’m writing!)
So, ditch the guilt, and just have fun already.
2. Make a bucket list. I could list a thousand things to do sans kids this summer:
-read a whole book start to finish that doesn’t feature Nemo or Cinderella
-lie by the pool with both eyes closed, or
-go on a walk all by yourself!
But these are things I enjoy. What are things you enjoy?
When you make your bucket list, rewind back to your single, carefree days. Recapture your personal identity before you were “Mommy!” What did you enjoy doing back then, when it was just you?
Next, tune in to your motherhood-phase daydreams. When you’re blankly staring into space while folding laundry, what do you fantasize about doing instead? Where would you go? Pick one dream, and make it happen.
Next, pick a hobby or a talent you’ve been meaning to develop. (Last summer, I started teaching myself how to play the guitar!) Check your local YMCA or community center and see what’s available.
One summer might not be enough time to make any real progress as a master potter or professional photographer, but who knows? You might fall in love with something and stick with it after the kids get back. If not, you can always pick up where you left off next summer … and the summer after that.
Finally, make sure your bucket list doesn’t become a “To Do” list. These are ideas. You can progress through the list in one summer or twenty. The point is not to make a checklist and then spend the summer feverishly scrambling to scratch off every item.
3. Hang out with friends. In the beginning, when my children went away, I had a tendency to isolate myself. Bad idea! Resist the strong temptation to stay in bed all day.
Okay, okay, so a pajama party in the yummy covers with some popcorn and chick flicks is allowed once in awhile. But in general, shake off the loneliness and get out of the house!
Pick at least one night a week to have dinner with a friend. Spend some time with girlfriends who don’t have kids. Maybe you can actually have a conversation without little ones running circles around you!
4. Babysit. So, you might be thinking, “Yeah, right!” But this idea has worked for me! If you’re missing your kiddos, borrowing your friend’s children for a while just might do your aching heart some good.
Also, when I say “babysit,” I’m not necessarily suggesting you find a gig every Friday night. However, if you want to babysit on the weekends to help ease your loneliness pangs, I’m sure you’ll find some couples willing to help you with your dilemma!
During weekdays, I have a hunch that if you call a friend and ask, “Want me to watch your kids while you run errands today?” she won’t fight you!
Even if you say, “Hey, can I tag along and help out with children today?” she probably won’t mind. Wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?
5. Relax and enjoy it. Remember to slow down. Chill out. Be present in the moment, rather than wishing your days away until the kids get home.
If you can’t let down while you’re alone … then when?
Every day, set aside some time to close your eyes and be still for a few moments. How often do you get to do that? I mean, without someone yelling, “Mom, I can’t find my cell phone!” or “She’s hitting me!” or “Did you go to the store today?” or “I looooooove you, Mommy!”
I know. You miss them. But enjoy the quiet while you can.
Just like always … From the beginning, the summer might look like an endless ribbon shimmering on the horizon. But before we know it those sizzling weeks will come to an end.
So don’t waste your time stressing out!
It’s natural to miss your children while they are away, but don’t wallow. Instead, live your life and love it.
QUESTION: What are your strategies for coping with loneliness when you are separated from your kids?
CHALLENGE: Make this summer the best yet: ditch the guilt, make a bucket list (not a to-do list), spend some time with people you care about, and maybe even sleep in!