Tag Archives: single parent

Sunday Prep Plan

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Monday morning, waking up late, pizza boxes on the kitchen counter, out of milk, he won’t get out of bed, and she can’t find her tuba mouthpiece to practice for the concert the very same night I have promised to go shoe shopping with the other one.  Someone starts moaning, another starts panicking, and parent starts shouting.  Been there?  Me too, all too often.  Monday mornings can really suck for single parents. 

 Busy parents need a system that allows us to standardize routines.  This tip has taken me too long to figure out, so I hope you can take advantage of it sooner than I have.  

Have a set list of tasks to do on Sundays to be ready for the week:

1. Meal plan and grocery shop for the week (don’t shop without the plan).

2. Have the laundry washed and folded. I actually try to get this done by Friday so that weekends are free days.  I do no more than 2 loads a day (and often do none), but I tend to do it when I am brain dead and numb (before 5 am or after 8 pm, and bring a bribe with me) to preserve neurons for interactions.  At any rate, have your portion of that chore finished by Sunday night (anyone over 16-years old does their own laundry).

3. Pick up the living room and clear off the dining room table for dinner on Sunday night (Gretchen Rubin says every night, and I am working on that one).

4. Have bills in line for payment if not paid already.  I paper clip the envelopes to the bill and keep stamps at my office to make it easy to fill and mail envelopes from there.  I read mail at home nearly every night, and it all goes either in the recycle, the payment pile, or in a slot to reply/do later.  Ideally, I would deal with it immediately when I open it- and I am working up to that.  Sunday nights, have the paper pile thinned down in a small box (the bigger the box, the bigger my paper pile. Go figure).

5. Dinner together in a relaxed format to talk and laugh over things and share highlights of last week and plans for this week.  Sometimes we have breakfast out instead.

6. Calendars synced so that the choir concert and PT conferences are on the radar.  I need lead time for evening activities, and he needs some warning about locating/ironing his tux shirt for the concert.

7. Kitchen cleaned up.  This can take me hours sometimes, I have no idea why. Please tell me.

Of course I mess up and sometimes end up at the grocery store on Tuesday nights at 9 pm , wandering the frozen pizza isle with bills stuffed in my purse to read at the stoplight.  But if we could do this Sunday Prep Plan consistently, that won’t happen as often, and Monday morning arrives with everyone perhaps not happy, but at least a little more prepared.

  

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Texts for the Exes (but Actually it is for Me)

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My stomach would coil up in knots and bile literally gang up in my throat when I saw the phone number on the caller ID. My ex raised my hackles when he called. I couldn’t trust myself to stay an adult, no matter who was around me. So, luckily for us, technology saved the day. Voices can dredge up so much energy- guilt, shame, fear, anger, resentment- it all comes shooting up like a geyser to my brain when I hear his voice.

Here is a quick tip for the week.

Use texts with your ex if you need to communicate logistics and also:
1. Need space from them,
2. Hate them, or
3. Need to predictably behave like an adult, not a 7 year old

We can text moms, brothers, neighbors, and ex-friends in this situation too, but be careful of texting people you want a relationship with.

For ex -spouses, it is a God-send. We can get the logistics of the drop off/pick up and go on about our day without the time traveling to ancient arguments and sneering accusations. I could drop back 4 years and rip off that old scab of an argument while simultaneously becoming a 7-year old if I heard his voice ask where I will be dropping off the extra change of clothes. But when I switched to texting only, I kept to my chronological age. it is difficult to sneer, or hear a sneer on text.

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Don’t Sell Out to Easy Money that Costs You Too Much

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Too bad no one will pay me to sit around and read Game of Thrones while eating chocolate chip cookies.  That is what I love to do these days.  Clearly I need some more motivation towards my passion, and to pick up that book again.

The work life balance is so tricky- make enough money to eat, clothe, shelter, etc. and yet don’t give so much energy to the job that nothing is left for parenting and relationships at the end of the day.

Secret of responsible parenting: Don’t sell out to “easy money”, whether it is marrying too soon to a bad choice for “financial companionship”, or sticking with a job too long after it has stopped being a source of pride and energy.  Work is hard, and we would rather not do it- that is why they call it work!  But at the same time, don’t let it become such a burden that it drains your parenting energy.  I need to fix my budget and give up a few things so that I can do a better job balancing work and parenting.

I have not written about my day job very often… It is a time crunch every damn day, and requires personal, technical, managerial, and vast communication skills. I am good at it.  Yet it does not feed a really crucial portion of me.  I am not sure what to do about that slow leak of my soul, seeping out the windows of my office as I sit at my computer.  These economic times and this phase of my parenting life doesn’t lend itself well to going out on a limb.  It is so easy for us to be conservative and stay in the rut.  Don’t risk it, just stay put.

I was on the phone with my Reiki Master and friend Mary last week, telling her I might work on a way to cut back on my corporate hours and get my own Reiki business off the ground finally when she started gasping and exclaiming “Oh my God, a red-tailed hawk just landed in my back yard, looked at me, and took off!”  She continued, “Wow! Yes! Yes!  You need to do that!” and then “That is a clear message.  I have never seen a hawk in my backyard*.  You need to do this, Anne.”

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So limb, here we go…  What or where is YOUR limb to better balance and fulfillment?

* I don’t know if divine intervention sent the hawk or a scraggly cat that looked like tasty prey. I am sorry kitty-cat if you had to be lunch in order for me to risk and try something new!

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February = Love Month (not that kind, read on…)

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I was thinking of Jasmine, and how she reprimanded Jabbar about cleaning his room the other day and I wondered how Camille was doing with her painting, and also if Christine would ever find close friends (she is kind of controlling… more than me even). I took a deep breath and realized I had actually been feeling closer to my favorite TV show characters than with my real- life neighbor Dena and old freinds Katy and Delia lately. Wow- I am very gullible, and out of touch with reality!

I am stopping just short of pathetic because I know I am not alone in this tendency. Why mess with real people when I can sit for 4 hours on Netflix and watch Christine try to make a new friend over wine and sushi?
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Relationships = Relating

If I/we want to have more than 2-dimensional depth, I/we need to put some elbow grease in to it. So- here are the new habits I am adding for the Love month of relating better and loving better.
1. Hug kids twice each daily
2. Call or speak face to face to reach out daily to friends
3. Keep trying to have empathy for annoying (but real!) people. My real- life neighbor Dena talks too much about her toddler. If she tells me one more time about how she won’t wash plastics in her dishwasher due to carcinogen risk to toddler, she won’t let her kid eat hot dogs because of the nitrates, or that every Saturday morning they eat fresh fruit and homemade french toast together, I could scream… And don’t get me started on my retired parents who seem to gloat on a weekly basis about how much free time and extra cash they have on hand to buy new cars for themselves. (I know, I know, I should pray for them. I am trying…)
4. I will strive for a 4:1 compliments to criticism with kids and loved ones every day.

These are lofty. Really huge. I will keep on trying though I know some days I will crave my pretend friends over real life.

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Optimism is True Moral Courage

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Optimism is true moral courage.
-Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE FRGS (/ˈʃækəltən/; 15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration…Upon his death, he was lauded in the press, but was thereafter largely forgotten, while the heroic reputation of his rival Scott was sustained for many decades. Later in the 20th century, Shackleton was “rediscovered”, and rapidly became a cult figure, a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described by polar historian Stephanie Barczewski as “incredible” (Wikipedia 2/23/14).

“…Leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described… as incredible.”

There you have it. A gold star for you for getting out of bed each morning believing that this day you can do it, again, yet, more. You are leading and keeping your team together. Today you will keep on doing it, making your and your children’s lives better than before. And, you will do it with optimism.

Sir Ernest is correct. Sometimes it is tough to be optimistic. But we do it anyway.

PS- Alanon has a slogan “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

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… Next Week

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I had lots of arguments with myself over those proclamations I made last week. Mostly they occurred at 5 am when I didn’t want to get out of bed. It ended up great though. I ran 7 out of 9 days, which is lots better than half-sleeping, stewing, and procrastinating for 7 of 9 mornings during my run time, which just makes me feel anxious and pissy by 11 am. I finished laundry early enough in the week that I only had one load left by Saturday, so I actually got to play a little this weekend with my kids and with friends! And, I wrote almost as much as I ran, which is a 10 fold improvement. I was LOTS happier too. When we make time for the things in our lives that give us joy, and pay attention to priorities, the work we have to do feels much less like drudgery.

I am not hitting all of my goals, but the point is I’m much closer to being in mental shape for the challenges of single parenting. We are not on a cake-walk; this takes stamina and fortitude, among a zillion other things. I’m much closer to paying off all of my debt, hugging my kids daily, blogging good stuff, having clean socks and underwear, and reaching out to others than before I made those big goals.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
-Harriet Tubman

Hmmm, that quote is humbling… I’m not freeing slaves on the underground railroad. I’m not making big social statements that will impact entire generations to come. I’m not going to be remembered in 100 years. But I am doing really important work- raising kids is the most important work I will do with my life. I am changing the world, starting with 2 teenagers. I broke the abuse cycle by raising them without their dad. I am changing the world, actually. Think about it– you are too!! You may have saved your kids from something or someone. You are teaching them to live differently than you grew up. You are changing your family tree too… We need to make lofty goals, dream big, and do our best job possible.

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Single Parents And Dating

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Yep, a rough one! But I am here to tell you that it is so worth it!!!

I have had and lost more relationships than I want to count. But when I finally decided to put on my big girl pants and state that my children are my priority up front, early on, the man responded with “Of course, I respect you for that”. What a relief, I had a huge boulder lifted from my shoulders, because I knew I could follow my priorities rather than his. In previous relationships, I really had thought that I needed to focus on pleasing the man, on being who he wanted me to be, rather than who I wanted to be… Hmmm, pretty messed up, huh?

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