So there I was, sat in bed drinking my much needed coffee in bed, mentally planning what to do, where to go and what time to do it. Weekends mean very little to me as far as relaxation time. With a toddler in tow it’s just as much all systems go as any other day of the week. Even with my kid free Saturday, while the boys are with their dad, I still seem to be cramming as much as possible into my day and night. Every second mentally scheduled, just like any other. And it was that exact point, in amongst my dashing from A-B, that I realised my initial dread I had about being away from my boys had gone, I was fine with the idea of kid free days. Better than fine, I realised that after a chaotic week of work and every day family routines, I needed it.
I always thought I’d struggle on the days that the boys didn’t dominate my schedule. Even pre separation, on the days when I wanted to run for the hills following a to-do, the thought of having to spend any of my weekends apart from my pride and joy filled with panic and were usually the grounding point for the nonsense of said barney. It was those days which sent my thoughts into over drive over what was really best for the kids. 2 days of just so parenting or a day of fun with mum and another with dad. Is there ever a right answer in those situations?
It’s a toughie and one many parents sum up when considering the pros and cons of ‘should I stay or should I go?’ But when push comes to shove you have to deal with it.
So that’s where I am now, dealing with it.
Which isn’t as hard as it sounds as once you’re in the right mindset, you learn to accept the situation
“it is what it is”
As a single mum you’re on call 24/7 or 24/5 in my case (give or take a few numbers.) You do all the wake ups, the early starts and the bed times. Days you don’t fancy cooking, tough, you have to cook. Kids need help with their homework, drop what ever YOU need doing and help. Middle of the night wake ups., the lot there’s no sharing the burden.
But what makes it manageable is knowing that you will have some time to yourself on your kid-free days.
Which is why I don’t feel guilty. I do a kick ass job on those other days and I soon learnt, in the single parenting rule book, you have earnt permission to be as indulgent or selfish as you like (within reason, the kids still always come first.)
Once word spread about my new status update, old friends, new friends, people I’ve never met in my life offered words of wisdom, one thing they all had in common was having been in my very, scary single mum shoes. Never in my wildest dreams was I expecting the camaraderie and virtual lift from these amazing, empathic women, Amazeballs didn’t even come close. I kept every Facebook message, every text and every email. Those who took me aside and shared their tips and support logged a memory bank of must do’s for as long as my memory will see fit.
The power of a problem shared, a collective experience and a shoulder to cry on was the silver lining in my big black cloud. And to this day, one snippet really stood out and took me by surprise;
don’t ever feel guilty for enjoying your kid free days.
“bonkers.” I thought. I’ve never been happy to see my kids go.
Even if I’m just doing housework with my music cranked up, or sitting in bed til noon working and drinking endless cups of coffee, I don’t feel guilty having that time to myself. The important thing is they’re having quality time with their other parent which they need and they WANT that.
Seeing how excited they are when they walk out the door knowing that they’re not missing out on having 2 parents in their life is a bitter-sweet emotion but one which also trumps any emptiness of not having them around. Sure the house is a little strange. Yes, it’s way too quiet, but those days when it’s just little old me, are the days I get to do what I want, to re balance the order of parenting and to recharge ready for the week ahead.
So no, I don’t feel guilty on my kid free days.