Life is funny sometimes. Ok a lot of the time. I have to laugh because there is nothing much else to do when things don’t go as planned, crying is not an option really.
If you read part 1 and part 2 of the Single mom’s (dad’s too) summer survival guide, you know it took me a while to get used to the idea my kids were gone in the summer for 7 weeks and during that 7 weeks I should make some plans, do some things I wouldn’t or can’t do in the normal course of the year and most importantly not feel guilty for letting my hair down and looking forward to some non mommy activities with non-offspring humans (not to be confused with non-human offspring)
In part 1, 2 summers ago, we discussed creative ways, and the importance of, getting rid of the kids for the summer (especially in situations where the other parent put you in a place of having a solo gig 92 or more percent of the time by being out of town or state and having their children with them a very short time during the year). how wanting some you time can actually make you a better parent and why a guilt trip is not a good place to go because you need some.
In part 2, last summer, we discussed how to fill your time, not mope (they will be back) and again, letting go of the guilt of looking forward to and using that time wisely for your mental state as a single parent.
Wildly popular, not really too helpful, as far as step by step, but good reading nonetheless. Well I thought so anyways.
Taking my own slightly cracked but pretty solid advice, this year I made plans for when they left. Lots of plans.
For the first time ever, I had things really solidly laid out for the day they left until the day they got home, excited and looking forward to it, and thrilled I felt no guilt at all this year.
Sometimes these things take a while to really settle in, after all, what parent who loves their children really wants to admit they can’t wait for them to leave for a few weeks? Even to themselves.
It’s not a character flaw. Parenting is not meant to be a solo gig. Even if you have a village to help, without the other parent, you are still a single parent trying to be there for your kids all the time.
With no significant other, with as much invested emotionally in these kids as you are, it’s ok to need a break. Single parents have so much guilt just from the circumstances, we really don’t need to take on more just because we want to do something without the kids.
After years of mulling it over, yes maybe too long as I tend to over think things a lot, but still I can say I arrived and it felt good.
Finally arriving and actually doing are two different things when you make plans get all ready and at the last minute, like a week before the end of school, you are given the news the other parent won;t be taking them this summer, and all your plans just turned to shit.
See why there is nothing but to laugh?
I can’t be mad at the kids, it’s not, nor ever was, their fault. Ever.
Sure I could be mad at the other parent, but it won’t change anything and is just a waste of energy.
There is disappointment, I won’t lie and after all this time of getting over it, the guilt comes rushing back for feeling that way and being a little bummed it had to be the first year I actually was going to follow my own advice and do stuff more than I do when they are here. Grown up stuff. Me stuff.
If the news hadn’t been the last minute and practically pried with a crowbar out of the other parent, I think I would have adjusted better, but I bet I am not the only one, because there is never only one (except maybe the Highlander but even then there seemed to be an awful lot of them…just saying) in this position or who has ever been put there.
So after a little brooding and a change in the plan of Part 3, I am just going to say; sometimes you just have to wing it.
And of course, after winging it now for nearly a month, I do have some creative, practical (or not much who knows) advice on surviving the summer you weren’t planning on because you finally got over the guilt of wanting you time, made some solid plans, and got shot down at the last minute only to now have to feel guilt of a different kind and not really know what to do with it. First of all, get over it. I know easier said than done, but guilt is ridiculous, feeling disappointment is normal and we know you love your kids, so no more guilt. Back to the same advice of last year (the sign we made to remind you not to mope?) Let’s change it a little, to No Moping Zone, They are Here…(deal with it). ok?
Quit moping and no more guilt.
Now, I am all for unstructured outdoor summer break playtime, you know where you kick the kids out the door in the morning, tell them to go play and don;t see them til dinner?
I know it’s a little extreme for this day and age, not totally sure why in some cases but yea I get it. Cell phones make it easier though to do it. Pop that tracking sucker on your kids iPhone, provided by absentee parent, (better than any phone you can afford) and off they go. What’s so hard about that?
Here in the desert we have a little problem with that. It’s called extreme heat. The last thing you want is to kick your kids out the door in the morning and have them return with heat stroke because they were out all day.
For those of you in the areas where the summers are nice and nature is allowing for cool grass, shade and outdoor play all day, yet the winters are harsh and unforgivably cold, think snow days. 7 weeks of them. Also if that hit home and you are indeed in the same ish position I find myself this summer, as a coping method, let them play outside, a lot. However if you aren’t able to, or in an area like I am where you can’t here are a few ideas I have picked up in the last month;
- camps – day camps are a great way to spend a lot more money but the kids are entertained and even sometimes learn something. Bubbsy has been to three already and Gracie is going to her first this week.
- Don’t sweat the house – let em rearrange the furniture and build a fort, it’s creative and entertaining if you can let go of the OMG THE FURNITURE thinking.
- long walks or swims in the semi cool of the evening. Right now we are experiencing 104+ degree temps that make it not really comfortable til the sun goes down a bit but when it does, we go out and burn off some energy.
- get your AC in your car fixed. I didn’t because it doesn’t bother me so much and they were leaving and I had time – ac and I don’t get along well .. but the kids, and especially the small ones are susceptible to heat exhaustion in a car rather quickly. Driving with the windows down here, you might as well put ten blow dryers in your face, and the kids don’t fare so well so its a bit confining, as in you are even more stuck in a small space (the house) in the middle of the day.
- freak out every once in a great while…just to shut them up. What? It works and it’s cathartic, as well as acting like to a crowbar to pull them out of your butt for a while. Just saying.
So that is where we are at and I think good things to consider. The one thing I think is most important to your survival as a single mom (dad too) in the summer you made plans but got shot down and ended up having the darlings all summer after finally getting over the guilt of wanting it is:
- Don’t ever blame the kids. Ever. You are ok and within your right to feel angry and disappointed, let go of the guilt for feeling that but find some way, someone to talk to or something to punch besides the children.
They are just kids. This may be the best summer of their lives one day when looking back and remembering. Wouldn;t that be cool? Yea I think so.