Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Time For Yourself

Tips for Surviving Life as a New Single: From Self-Care to Online Dating

(contributed post)

Life as a newly single person can be rather daunting in today’s society. Every day, lots of people find themselves coming out of relationships and having to navigate the world of singledom once more. It is natural for this to be nerve-wracking, especially if you have spent a long time in a relationship in the past.

However, people make changes to their lives every day, and you can make the right kind of changes right now. When you become single again, it’s the perfect time to think about doing some things (maybe you’ve been neglecting) that make you happy and feel peaceful. There are a lot of things that can change while you’re living a single life, especially if you were married and had children with your ex-spouse. Of course, it is important to deal with these changes, and not ignore them. Here are a few tips for navigating life solo once again.

Single Parenting Will Be a Challenge

There is no denying that being a single parent is a challenge, and you will want to consider ways of easing the burden a little. Having to look after your kids alone can be very tiring and stressful, but routine and organization, along with communication and fun, can help with these daily stressors. Of course, you also realize how hard a divorce will be for your children as well, so reach out to other divorced parents you know for tips and/or even sharing in childcare. Spending time together as a family, just having fun or being silly, can also help your children feel safe and secure in your home.

Self-Care is Essential

So many newly single people don’t take the time to make sure they are looking after themselves effectively. You have to give some time to self-care, and to making sure your physical and mental well-being is a priority. If you were married and splitting up, using divorce mediation , instead of attorneys, can be helpful for your mental well-being, as it can ease the burden of a stressful process. Focus on yourself and how you can improve the way you are moving forward: eating healthy and regular meals, getting enough exercise (family walks?), and sleeping well will also help with self-care. 

Time to Tackle Your Finances

Now that you are single again, your financial priorities may have shifted, and it is time to think about how you can stay on top of your finances. There are plenty of techniques that will allow you to thrive as a single income household, and you can take some time to look at how to implement the ones that work for you and/or your family. Prioritizing your spending is also important, and look at trying to cut costs wherever you possibly can is also helpful.

Back in the Dating Game?

Getting back into the dating game might seem like something that’s on the bottom of your list of interests right now, but you will feel the urge sooner or later. There are plenty of ways you can get back on the dating saddle, and online dating is going to be one of the best ways you can do this. With a lot of different sites to choose from (see the link just above), you may find one that works for you, and you can start setting up some dates.

There is a lot to think about when you find yourself freshly single once again. Life will go in a different direction to what you might be used to, and it is important to be adaptable. You and your kids are going to be impacted by this, of course, but with planning, thinking smart, and being easy on yourself, you can make this transition work for your family. It’s not impossible! In fact, as Meryl Streep says, “Start by starting.” 

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Yes, You’re A Parent, But 10 Ways To Care For Yourself Too

(contributed post)

Being a parent can be tough, we all know that. And as much as you love your children, and as much as you wouldn’t trade this blessed job for anything else in the world, you’re still a human. As an adult, you really do have to be able to put them first, but also cover off your own needs too. Whether you are a single mom or not, this is essential. You know the saying about putting your life jacket on first before helping anyone else? Well, that comes into play a lot here. It’s great that you want to be a wonderful mother, and you want your children to be happy, but you also need to be happy too. And not only that, healthy as well.

If right now, you know that you’re not really doing enough to put your own needs first, then you may want to think about changing things. You’ve probably got yourself into a bit of a rhythm with how you care for your kids, and that’s okay. But if you know that you’re neglecting your own needs, then things need to change. Or worse, if you’re stressed out, tired, overworked, and just generally unhappy, then you really do need to take action. Of course, even if you are happy (or you think you’re happy enough) some of the ideas we’re about to walk through may apply to you too. So let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to start taking care of your own needs better.

Think About Your Future

First of all, you need to start thinking a little more about your future. And this is incredibly important. If you want to be able to be happy in life, you need to make sure that you’re on the right track. Yes, you’re a mom, but that’s not all you are. And when your kids grow up, you don’t want to feel like you missed out on doing something that you love. So plan your future and figure out what you can do today that’s going to get you to where you want to be in ten years time.

Give Yourself An Hour

When it comes to physically looking after yourself on a day to day basis, you just need to be able to give yourself an hour. There are lots of different ways to find time for yourself, no matter how busy you are. So shift your schedule and make sure that you get an hour each day to just be you, relax, and do something that you love, like take a bath or read.

Balance Your Work Life

Next up, you’re going to want to focus on finding a balance with your work. Now, this isn’t always easy, but you can’t just be an employee and a mom, and then go to sleep. You’ll be exhausted. So you have to have boundaries and be able to slot your work in with everything else. Don’t feel too pressured to keep on working when the kids are asleep, you need time for yourself too.

Create A Social Life

One of the main reasons you need to keep your work life balanced is because you need a social life too. And this is essential. Even if you’re a single mom – well, even more so! A rewarding social life is something that we all deserve and it doesn’t have to be impossible to find. When you build the right network around you, you’ll feel like you’re finally putting your needs first.

Pursue Your Passion

Next, you’re going to want to make sure that whatever you want to do in life, you make time for it. If you want to write or paint, then make sure that you accommodate more time for this in your life. Life is too short for you not to do the things you love, even as a busy mom!

Take Better Care Of Your Health

But at the same time, you also need to focus on your health. Because you are only human, and if you don’t take care of your body, it will show. So above all else, eat well and stay active. When you’re focusing on your health, you will always feel great too.

Take Action

Next, you need to make sure that you are taking control of any situation that you might be in right now. If you need to handle settlements or get compensation, speak to the right professional like Muth Law and take action. Now’s the time to do it. When you do, you’ll feel like you have so much more control over your own life.

Focus On Relationships

From here, you should also start to think about your relationships a little bit more. It’s important that you’re able to develop great parent-child relationships and not just be their mom. At the same time, you should want to think about strengthening the bond you have with others around you. It’s so important to be able to have good relationships with those around you if you want to be able to feel your best.

Do Something Just For You

At the same time, you have to ensure that you’re doing things just for yourself. Not because you feel like you should, not because someone else wants you to, but because you’re taking care of your own needs. Maybe you want to take a class or you want to start a course? Whatever it is, just make sure that you take the plunge.

Always Aim To Live Your Best Life

Finally, you should definitely make sure that you’re living well on your own terms too. Remember, this is your life. You won’t ever want to feel like you didn’t live it your own way. So look how you want to look, dress in a way that makes you feel confident, take care of your appearance and feel good about yourself. Make sure that you act in a way that makes you feel like yourself. Do the things that make you happy. Because you should never look back and regret the things that you didn’t do!

 

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Round-Up: Self-Care and Emotional Health Top 5 Articles

Self-care and emotional health are two very important topics to me. I recently saw this quote on a quote calendar I own:

“You must love and care for yourself because that’s when the best comes out.” ~ Tina Turner

So true, right? And as we all know, it is not always easy when you’re a parent, especially. So here is a round-up of the top 5 articles on my blog that have to do with self-care and emotional health. I chose this round-up thanks to everyone who took my poll on what topics readers would like me to focus on next. So here we go…

Life Is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe (This post is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better and how you can’t control others, but you can control your reaction!)

Parents: Taking Time For Yourself (This post is about a trip I took with my girlfriends and why it is important for all parents to fill their well.)

The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up (This post was inspired by a book I read about ways to NOT become unglued and making imperfect progress toward goals.)

5 Things I Learned About Living In 2016 (From “balance is key” to “parenting is hard and give yourself a break”, this post shares my personal experiences while trying to improve my emotional health.)

Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One  (Three tips for taking care of yourself and why you should! )

 

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How Hard It Is To Be Still

Lately, more than one person has said to me: “You have trouble being still. You are never still.”

My initial reaction to this statement is always millions of unspoken thoughts of how impossible it is to be still. Try living my life and see if you can be still. As a single parent, I ask myself: when am I supposed to be still? Maybe you can relate. If you’re a parent, a working parent, a parent of multiple children, a caregiver for elderly parents, or any combination of these roles, you know how hard it is to be still. There is always a to-do list, and it is always impossibly long. You’re always being pulled in multiple directions, and sometimes, those directions are physically and mentally exhausting.

For me, I must add to the trouble of being still the desire to be involved in activities (I’ve always been a joiner), my fear of life being too short and missing out on anything, ambitious goals, and my avoidance of tough, emotional issues—and that equals being too busy, never being still, and feeling completely overwhelmed.

But it’s catching up to me. I’m exhausted. And my loved ones would not be telling me that it’s important to relax and be still if they didn’t see the negative effects of my current lifestyle.

This is a blog post that’s difficult to write because at this point, it has no ending. I’m not writing this because I have a magical answer for how to be still. I try to meditate. I say no to some requests for my time. I prioritize tasks. But this problem for me goes beyond that busy calendar–this problem is because I am uncomfortable with myself, and that is the root. How do I get comfortable spending time with this person underneath all the labels and responsibilities, tasks and to-do lists, flaws and quirks and joys, and be still with her?

If I can figure that out, then I think I can be still.  It’s similar to the saying: Being comfortable in your own skin. If you are constantly moving and exhausted, you don’t have to worry about any of that because you don’t have time for it.

How about you?  Are you still?

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So You Are Single On Valentine’s Day? Show Yourself Some Love!

Don’t miss this amazing article by Julie Morris who has guest blogged on here before! If you are alone this Valentine’s Day, then here are some awesome ways to celebrate you! This is one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on being single on Valentine’s Day! Enjoy! 

Show Yourself Some Love

by Julie Morris

Nearly half of the country’s population doesn’t plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. And, while some of those reticent romantics have significant others, many Valentine’s Day holdouts will be spending the holiday solo. For those folks, February 14 might mark an opportunity to offer themselves some tender loving care to boost their mood and bolster their mental and emotional health year-round.

Be Your Own Date

Here are some suggested solo activities that don’t involve romantic dinners or red roses:

  • Spend the evening browsing the racks at off-price stores like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, which will be less crowded since they aren’t exactly prime spots for the average Valentine’s Day outing. Plus, at least one retailer’s research found snagging a bargain can actually raise shoppers’ heart rates. So you don’t even need a hot date to get your pulse pounding.
  • Settle in for an extended reading session. Rather than reading magazines or blogs, bury yourself in a book for a while. Reading books, in particular, boosts brain power and can protect people from cognitive decay later in life. Reading also has mental and emotional benefits. According to research cited by Reader’s Digest, reading books, especially fiction, increases empathy and emotional intelligence. And honing these social skills can lead to more frequent and more positive interactions with others, which can lower stress levels.
  • Sign up for an exercise class that’s usually packed. If that barre or kickboxing class always fills up faster than you can save a spot, Valentine’s Day might mean a few regulars will skip the sweat session in favor of an indulgent dinner date. Working out will elevate your heart rate and lift your spirits by increasing your output of endorphins and other natural mood-boosting brain chemicals.
  • Volunteer your time. Studies show donating your time can decrease your stress levels and risk of depression while boosting your sense of purpose, fulfillment, and self-confidence. It will also help put your own problems into perspective and connect with your community.

 

Treat Yourself

U.S. consumers are expected to shell out an average $143.56 this Valentine’s Day on jewelry, an evening out, flowers, candy, and clothes. So, if you won’t be spending any cash on a significant other, maybe you can splurge on something for yourself. Here are a few ideas:

  • As a single person, you might not be giving or receiving roses this Valentine’s Day. So why not use the sweet savings to give yourself some indoor plants that will help add some greenery to your environment until winter winds down completely? Plants can help purify the air in your home and also add to oxygen levels. Studies have also shown plants propagate productivity and boost concentration and mood while lowering our stress levels. Check out these tips from Redfin on how to optimize your home for stress-free living.
  • Invest in a yoga mat or other tools to encourage mindfulness practices. For example, you could download a meditation app or enroll in a set of online classes to help you develop a daily meditation habit. Or order a set of pocket guides with titles including “How to Sit,” “How to Eat,” and “How to Love” by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • Purchase a gratitude journal. Try recording three things you are grateful for and three things you were able to accomplish each day. If you have a hard time sticking to the happiness-boosting habit, consider downloading a free app that offers inspiration and advice for maintaining a journal.

So celebrate yourself on Valentine’s Day with some activities and small splurges that will warm your heart.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.

Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. To contact Julie and find out more, please visit her website at http://juliemorris.org/.

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It’s Time to Put You First

contributed article

Do you ever catch yourself thinking that life would be better if you could take time for yourself a little more? But it’s hard, and caregivers have the hardest time with this. Most people, both parents and adults without children just yet, need to feel needed.  It’s part of life to want to feel useful and vital to someone other than yourself. The ability to help and be compassionate to those who come into your life is one that most people treasure. The trouble with being needed all the time is that it can be extremely difficult to find time for yourself. By the time you’ve tended the needs of family, friends, children, work, and your home, there is very little time in the day that is left to have a moment to remember that you are important, too.

The idea that you must sometimes put yourself first is a difficult one to wrap your head around, especially if you are not used to finding time for your own needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, though, how can you expect to be there for anyone else? People need strong, happy individuals supporting them, and those who don’t take the time to look after their own needs often succumb to stress, depression, and sometimes, addiction.

If you find yourself being trapped in that cycle, where you feel like there is a lack of control over your life, then you need to start putting yourself before others. Stress and depression can lead to other physical manifestations of illness, and taking the time to rectify this is important. Checking into places like Compass Recovery for those who find themselves in the midst of an addiction as a way out of their stress is an important first step. It is not selfish to look after yourself or put yourself before other people, especially in the cases where you have spent so long looking after other people you’ve forgotten how to be you again.

Finally realizing that you matter enough to be important in your own life can set you on a path to freedom. Often, being relied on by so many other people can leave you feeling trapped. Their need of you can be suffocating and debilitating, and the feelings of guilt that you end up left with if you don’t help out on demand are consuming. The freedom you can feel by simply saying no and allowing yourself to be the priority in your own life is immense. The weight on your shoulders of unwavering obligation can lift, and you can start to see life a little clearer and a little lighter. You can still be there for people and put yourself first.

Start small, with evenings to yourself. A cup of tea in peace and quiet and enjoying the time you spend with your own company can be a refreshing change from being wanted and tugged at all the time. Finding a balance is never easy, but it’s one you have to seek if you feel pulled in different directions. Finding you is good for your health, and your health matters.

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Keeping Your Sense of Self When You’re a Mother and Wife

contributed article

It’s fair to say, as women, we have drawn the short straw in many respects, and there’s no doubt we have it tough at times. Along with growing, carrying and giving birth to our babies, in most cases, we’re their primary caregiver, too. And as wonderful and special as this is, it does mean that everything else in our lives can be twice as hard as we’re fitting it around our children. One thing many women struggle with after having kids is losing their sense of self or identity. You’re no longer just you, you’re a mother. Your new name is “mom,” and your new role is of a parent and sometimes wife. But just because you are these roles (and as enjoyable as they are), it doesn’t mean you have to totally lose the person you once were. Keeping your own identity is important; here are a few ways you can go about it.

 

Take Care of Your Appearance

As a busy parent, the way you look often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. In the morning, it’s probably all about getting your little one up and washed, fed and dressed. But you don’t have to give up on yourself entirely, and actually making a small effort with your appearance is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Perfect a super quick makeup routine- some foundation, bronzer, and a sweep of mascara will instantly make you look your best without being too done up. Every now and again, visit the hairdresser. Have a style cut, which is easy to maintain and quick to do in the morning. The trick is to work with your natural texture, for example, instead of shoving it into a ponytail. If your hair is already straight, run it over with the straighteners for just a minute or two. This will make it look tidier, get rid of any frizz or fluffiness, and allow it to sit better. If your hair is curly, you could scrunch through with some mousse; it won’t take long, but you’ll feel much better being well presented. You probably have your comfy “mom uniform” that you wear to run errands and get stuff done around the house; but a few changes here could make all the difference, too. Instead of a tracksuit, for example, a pair of leggings with a jersey skater dress and a long cardigan would look cute but be just as comfortable. If you run into anyone you know or catch sight of yourself in the mirror, you’re likely to be far more confident, too.

Exercise

Keeping fit is useful when you have energetic children to look after! It will allow you to play with them far more easily and generally keep up. You probably don’t have all the time in the world to hit the gym five days a week, but there’s plenty you can do. Go on a power walk with the pram, or take a ball or frisbee to the park and run around with your kids. Instead of driving shorter distances, walk them instead, and go on family bike rides. You’ll maintain your figure and the endorphins will make you feel good.

Maintain a Social Life

You might have hung up your dancing shoes long ago, and a night out with friends these days might not be to a nightclub or bar like it once was. But keeping friends is so important; find activities that you all like to do now that you’re mothers and wives. Whether it’s play dates with the kids, brunch on a weekend, or an afternoon tea, keeping those connections there is so important. There are of course other ways to keep in contact with friends too; you could use a postcard app to send any funny or sweet pictures as a postcard right to their house. You could talk on the phone, video call, or of course, use social media. But having that support and friendship group around you will help you keep a grasp of your own identity.

Go Back To Work

One way you can keep and maintain your identity is through your job or career. As a parent you might not necessarily want to go back full time, when you have children to look after. If that’s the case, how about part time? You could even start a home business or do some freelance stuff online. Either way, maintaining your career interests is a good way to go, and bringing money into the home will make you feel good.

Image source

 

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Parents: Taking Time For Yourself

I just returned from a three-night, four-day girls’ trip to Breckenridge, CO. We had a lot of fun, from sightseeing on Mt. Evans to dog sledding with a golf cart, from Oktoberfest to a winery with an incredible view–we laughed and relaxed; and each one of us took time for ourselves. We are all moms. Some of us are single; some of us are married. I am the only one with a young child; one mom has a special needs son, and others have teenagers, college students, and young adults. All of us have busy lives and jobs, but we made it happen. We took the time for ourselves.

The dog sled adventure

I’m not going to tell you it was easy or without guilt. I had a bit of guilt before I left about how I was taking this trip as a single parent, and two of the nights were my nights with my daughter. The guilt grew worse when KT had a meltdown on the phone with me the second night; and when I called her from the airport on my way home, she was teary eyed and wanted me home right now. My mom’s commentary on how miserable KT was also didn’t help. Grandmas hate to see their grandchildren teary-eyed.

I’m still glad I did it, though; but for a while, I doubted myself. Luckily, my friends are amazing.

One said: You have to let her figure out how to navigate life without you always there. You have to prepare her for the tough stuff. If you don’t, and life gets tough, she will have no idea what to do. (How about that for a smart, great friend?)

Another said: Everybody has to refuel. Everyone does it. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, mentally and physically, so you are stronger and better for your daughter. (Exactly!)

And there was a handsome police officer…

I mean–this is free advice I got, and I am now sharing it with you. 🙂

KT and I both survived, and the next day when we were together, it was even more special. We appreciated each other more. We hugged a lot, and we told each other how much we loved and missed each other. That is very special and just an extra bonus of going on a fun trip with my friends and also having a beautiful daughter!

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