Divorce – to party or not to party?

D-day is almost here and I’ve been thinking about the best way to handle it. As Divorces go, it’s been ok I guess, that could just be down to my general approach to life; keep positive and look forward never dwell. Sure, there’s been hiccups and moments where I’ve wallowed in a massive pool of self pity, I’m an awful mother for putting my kids through this and I’ve failed at being a wife days.

There’s also been moments of complete and utter excitement as I anticipate what the future brings. I don’t dare plan too much, that’s the knock on of separation. After a long relationship is you realise life can always throw you a curve ball, and I’ve no idea if there will ever be a Mr Right in that future I don’t dare plan. I’m still an old romantic at heart and love the idea of happily ever after, but I’m not going to make that my sole mission in life.

For the first time, in a very long time, I’m quite happy being me, myself and I.

One thing no one warns you about, when you and your husband go your separate ways and you take on the role of My Single Friend, is you become a go-to and confidant for everyone else’s marriage troubles, that’s a great reminder of how much better off I am right now. That could be a reason to party.

So that clears up where I am on Separation Street, the perfect time to put it out there, that conversation which keeps popping up;

Are you going to have a divorce party?

Is a divorce ever something you should celebrate? After all, it’s a failure to maintain a relationship, and one which I worked bloody hard to keep going, but come the end, the lows far out weighed the highs, it was a pretty dark place for us all then things came to light which made the fight to stay together futile.

If I’m honest, there’s no denying I’m much happier with how life is right now, but do I celebrate the reason for why I’m here with a party? My release into my new life….

should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

I’m not the angry, bitter, man-hating soon to be divorcee, so I don’t need a freedom style party. Neither do I feel the need to burn my wedding photos or dress. My current status is what it is and there were moments when married life was ace, 3 amazing kids being the ultimate showcase, and my best coping mechanism is to not dwell on the past or revisit old wounds.

And while I’m not proud of being a statistic; a single mum of three, purveyor of a broken home. I am proud of the life my boys and I have now, we may not be a home of 2 parents, 2.4 kids. But we’re a happy, relaxed set up.

What constitutes a normal family these days anyway?

So the alternative is to celebrate new beginnings and continue to look to the future. For me, divorce is an end of an era and stepping stone onto my next adventure. I’ve reflected on my part in the break up and learnt what not and what I should do next time.

And I’m sure I’ll have the odd moment of ‘what if I’d done this’ which I’ll then put it aside, raise a glass  and wish my ex husband well with the hope that we’ll both go onto have happy, healthy lives.

While he’s stands there,

burning wedding photos.
should you celebrate the end of your marriage with a divorce party?

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Is 40 the new 25? Why I’m refusing to grow old appropriately

If you’d have said that at 41 and a half I’d be fitter, healthier and slimmer than my 25-year-old self, I’d have laughed in your face. (Then secretly hoped you knew something about my destiny than I did.) Optimistic me likes to hang on to any glimmer of hope, while gullible me will believe anything that you tell me if it’s going to make me feel good. Yet the bizarre thing is, it’s true, along with many of my fellow forty somethings who are refusing to attach themselves to the notion of what 40 should look like.

Not one to pigeon-hole an age or say what’s right or wrong, but in my twenties I had already decided that once I hit 40 I would cut my long brown hair short and stop trying to keep up with fashion,  I’d dress sensibly, probably at Boden, and take up a craft like hobby. Weekends would consist of routine of ferrying kids around to sporting events and gardening. Or so I thought.

Why exactly I decided that would happen is a little bonkers given that my mum was doing things at 40 for the first time, and still very much the life and soul of the weekend party goer. The 2o years between us meant nothing when you were raising the roof and mock pole dancing at family functions with a who gives a fidget attitude. She taught me well!

I think back to how I was behaving at 25 and it’s possible I peaked too early, maybe that’s why I took a restock of my life? I’d done sensible and it was time to claw back those prime years while I still had time.

So after F-day had passed I gave up red meat, joined the gym, started teeth straightening treatment and bought a whole new wardrobe of ageless clothes and make up. I even tried eye liner flicks (and failed) considered facial fillers (not brave enough) and switched to listening to radio 1 (sorry Jeremy.)  There are some things which I won’t be doing, like joining Tinder (might be subject to change) and getting ‘down in da club’ all night, I need beauty sleep and my feet ache if I dance too long in heels. I’m not a complete lose cannon, plus the teenage sons who lurke in my house somewhere might abandon me totally.

There’s always a catalyst to a radical lifestyle change and I suspect that the end of my marriage was mine. Suddenly I had weekends to fill and time to focus on Ali the person and not just Ali the wife and mother. Didn’t see that one coming at 25!

And 41 I have no hesitation in admitting my age,  I’ll be keeping my long brown locks, touching up my roots every 6 weeks. I’ll keep trying out the latest fashion, cursing when appropriate and blasting out the latest chart hits in my sensible Mercedes A-class.

One thing I’ve learnt which comes with age, aside from a little wisdom and a chunk of hindsight, is the confidence to not give a toss what others think of you.

And I have a sneaky feeling that I’m not alone in the 40 somethings growing old in appropiately.

I'm joining the growing number of 40 somethings who are refusing to grow up and grow old gracefully in the most sensible manner possible.

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How To Exit A Marriage Gracefully

Not one to reign doom and gloom on what should be the happiest time of year, but it’s given that many couples decided to part in the new year . I can only guessing it’s a case of out with the old, in with new which trigger most people to make such a momentous decision. Or maybe the stress of having extended time together makes people realise that they simply can’t abide another year or for some the drinking and partying led to extreme behaviour which couldn’t be forgiven. Who knows?  What ever the reason, though, it happens. My own parents are testament to it,  January 4th, if you need dates.

So if this is you,  lets put those extreme emotions aside and look at the practical side. First thing first, it happens, shit happens and it’s not a failure or a dirty word. It takes a strong person to stay in an unhappy marriage but an even stronger one to say I tried but it’s time to walk away for my own sanity and that of my family.  So for those with an inkling it’s on the cards, I’m dishing the dirt  on some of my own experience as I face the first Christmas on my own. (Not that I’m ever truly alone, I have my rock steady tribe of friends and family that see to that, but you get the gist.)

Lets begin by facing facts; Separation and divorce  is NEVER a private affair no matter how hard you try. Everyone has their opinion, it’s only natural that people take sides, whether it’s Team Husband or Team Wife. It’s where true friends show their allegiance and families stand firm and proud. It’s great if you can split amicably, I’m not saying in a grown up way as lets face it, how many grown ups do you know who wouldn’t want to defend their friends or family in this situation. There’s nothing grown up about it, quite the opposite, part of being grown up is supporting each other in their time of need. It’s the bitterness and nastiness that needs leaving at the Jeremy Kyle / Jerry Springer studio.

I personally have been trying my darn hardest to do things a little different. When I finally accepted that our time was up, I made a conscious decision to exit my marriage with grace and respect, to not play the victim and to hold my head up high,

And I’m not going to lie, it’s been one of the hardest approaches to something I have EVER made.

Inside I was screaming for injustice and revenge but as the fire died down and I reflected on what was and what could now be, the right and only course for me to take was the calm one. I’m not a drama queen by nature,  neither am I vengeful or scheming. So I had to go with what I do and know best and be calm, collected and in control.

Bonkers you say? “Get out there and fight” was that?

Just think about it, where exactly will it get you? You can’t fight fire with fire and there’s no more damaging emotion than hate and anger. So why be everyone else’s drama topic of the day? Nope, it’s the low road for me, plus karma does a pretty good job of sorting out the deserving & not so.

And while the practicalities of the situation mean you will have to exercise your own opinion in some shape or form. Keeping your counsel and letting the professionals do what they do best. You need to try mediation prior to any divorce proceedings. This is involves sitting with a trained mediator who is completely neutral  while you discuss between you how to approach childcare arrangements, divving up your assets and anything else you need to discuss with your ex partner.

Once that’s all done and dusted (and whether it worked out or not, it’s not always suitable, especially in cases where there was domestic violence) Next step it to make it official by moving on to the divorce proceedings. If mediation worked out ok (which is the MUCH cheaper option) you can file for divorce by enlisting a solicitor firm online  check out Slater Gordon divorce solicitors to give you an idea of how this works, or  visiting a local firm. Most offer an initial mini free session which helps you get a feel if they’re the right person to take charge  of such a whopping great big life choice.

What’s important here is to try not to air your dirty washing on social media. Once those words are out there they’re permanent and can’t be unsaid. Choose your sounding out boards wisely, gather up the fun ones who’s distract you and  filter out the trusting few who you can vent to and know that it’ll go no further.

And while I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover before I’m out of the woods, I’d like to think that there is still a possibility I can exit this  marriage gracefully, even if I do trip up a little along the way.

If you’d like to read more posts on my journey from married to single try these;

 Status update, theres something you should know

What The Early Days As A Single Mum Feels Like

end of a long term relationship

why you need to hit rock bottom How To Exit A Marriage With Grace And Respect  

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post. 

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Did I Tell You About The Time I studied With Digital Mums?

Digital Mums? What’s she banging on about now? Read on and I’ll tell you about the time I retrained as a social media manager with a course especially aimed as mums looking to study around family and work.

It all began one late summer evening……….

So there I was wondering how I was going to take my social media skills to a new level step on yet another switch on the career path. Despite spending most of my thirties studying for an Open University degree and finding a dream job I got itchy fingers and something didn’t feel right. A new baby meant when I went returned to work I’d be juggling jobs, childcare and mum guilt, I just couldn’t see it all panning out right and beside, blogging was fast becoming an even better dream job which I could do it around naps and in the evening.

Along with blogging came a little knowledge about social media, it goes part the parcel and the more I blogged the more I learnt, but it’s a fast paced world and I had a thirst for knowledge. I needed to find out more, really get my head around it then along came Digital Mums with a cup full of that knowledge and some. Blogging’s great but it’s not a steady income, retraining as a social media manager would fill that steady income gap I needed, and as a single mum to three kids, I needed that steady income more than ever.

I signed up, took the interview and the rest is history.

if you're looking to make your business more environmentally friendly then why not consider running a paperless office? Starting with my own small

‘Cause history is what’s already happened, right? 6 intense months of history in the making, studying as a social media manager on the Digital mums community manager course, my history in the making.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough.

Not only did I have personal stuff bobbing along in the back ground. I was now chief in charge of EVERYTHING at home. By day I was mum, doing mum stuff, house stuff, keeping fit stuff so I didn’t get ill, (getting ill just isn’t an option) and by night I was Ali the Digital Mum student and Mum in a Nutshell the blogger.

For 6 months there’s been a long stream of burning the candles at both ends and panic rants to my mum.

Along with the reading, (all on-line luckily, I have a dodgy knack of putting anything paper in the log burner, homework included) I had a weekly Google Hangout with my Social Sisters tutor group, definitely the highlight of the course. Online learning can be pretty lonely when it’s just you and a laptop, but with those ladies it all felt real and when the going got tough, we spurned each other on.

Then came the campaign, and that was when life got exciting.

Suddenly it all became real and everything I learnt put into practice as I grabbed social media by the horns and rode that bad boy through a full on round of social media-ing the pants out of east Devon. I tweeted, grammed and Facebooked within an inch of social media’s life. My phone glued to my hand as I tried to kick my targets into touch. It was hardcore live learning and I loved it!

Sure, there were moments when I was spinning so many plates, I contemplated whether I’d bitten off more that I could chew, but this was a social media course aimed at mums, created my mums who knew exactly what their students (who were mums) would be juggling.

The struggle was real but knowing I was riding it out with women all in the same boat as me took the edge off. I wasn’t the only one working, studying and mum-ing at the same time and when you see everyone else managing it you realise it’s not such a struggle after all, it’s simply a case of being box clever with your time.

And I did it….still here to tell the tale of ‘the time I became a Digital Mum’ ready to set out on an exciting career managing social media from the comfort of my kitchen table/sofa/bed/

The commute doesn’t get more perfect and my co workers a dream.

I managed to juggle family life and working while studying to become a social media manager completing a Digital Mum course

If you’re a small business looking for a social media manager please do get in touch or pop over to my website for more information (click here)

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5 things I’ve learnt as a single parent 

If I’m honest, this whole single parent title still doesn’t feel real. I know  that I am one, but I try hard to not to let it define me or what I do. I just get on with being me, mum to three amazing boys. It is tough at times; you can’t make plans at the drop of a hat knowing you’ve got a partner or husband around to hold the fort. Far from it tbh, any occasion which requires childcare takes careful consideration and planning.

On the plus side, you know you do have certain times where you do have a day or night sans kiddos and this is where you really get a taste of a valuable life skill;

I time manage like a pro

I know that for the next month at least, I have definite days where I’m child free and I use those days wisely. These are the snippets of my week where I schedule the pants out of every hour to get as much as I can done. On the flip side, my weekend day with my boys are precious. Week days are spent running errands, working my butt off to keep the wolf from the door, keeping on top the housework, making sure the kids are doing homework and carring out their chores while I get the sole pleasure of any house maintenance which doesn’t require a professional.

In a nutshell, my week is chuffing, great, supersized busy with sparkles on . My planner in my co pilot and  off days just aint happening.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I roll with the punches

From the outside, I probably look like I’m occasionally lacking in emotions. (aka Cold-Hearted-Bitch) taking situations at face value, assessing the damage & rocking on. My close friends and family will tell you otherwise. But what I do have to do is be very careful not to let stress define my parenting. I compartmentalise those tricky situations and deal with them in my own time, putting them aside while I do mum stuff. If a drama doesn’t seem worth the effort I don’t give it the time of day. I’ve been through immense emotional stress, hit rock bottom and that’s my gauge. I know I can roll with the little punches as I’ve hardened up to the little stresses and as sole carer I can’t afford to give in and crumble.

I don’t feel guilty taking my mum hat off

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always a mum and even on my child free days I’m thinking about my kids. But I’ve learnt not to feel guilty when I’m not with them. That one took a lot of soul searching and long phone calls from my go-to family and friends, but I got there. Tough love (from them) wise words, hugs, tea and sympathy got me to a position where I know I need a me-time recharge for the week ahead and fun times to ease the responsibility.  I make use of every minute I’m away from them and when it’s pick up time, I;m straight back into my mum role. It’s also given me the confidence to let go little, my kids are safe and happy with their dad, and I that’s all that matters.

I’m a budget queen

Being good with your money is a must whatever your relationship status, but when you’re on your own and you have mouths to feed, children to clothe and entertain as well as a house to run, every penny counts.
Not having 2 wages coming in is completely pants but in some ways it’s actually easier managing your finances as a single parent. I have complete control of the finances. I know exactly what’s going in and out. Every silver lining and all that jazz.
I’ve learnt to rein in the impulsive spending sessions, and when I do splurge. I budget the rest of the month. And I’ve had to learn to say no. It kills me when the kids ask for things I know I can’t afford, I’ve had to drag out that tough love again and again and bargain with alternatives.
When I first took on this whole new adventure I sat down and went through all my outgoings with a fine tooth comb. I changed electricity suppliers, got rid of insurances I didn’t need. Switched to a water meter and set up a buffer account to handle emergencies. I also listened to the advice of other single parents.

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

I am stronger, braver, smarter than I think

Wise words from Mr Pooh. Sometimes that chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff knows his stuff when he utters those little words of wisdom. Being a single parent has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was. The thought of running the helm single handed once terrified me.

How will I cope at the end of the day, when my energy is at its lowest, my patience is waning and I have no one coming through the door to share the load?

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s tough. There are days when the sofa has a magnetic pull so strong I have to fight every urge to curl up and hide from my duties. But that’s simply not an option. When those times hit, I dust myself down, push through the wall of ‘I can’t do this’ and get on with it.

I’m stronger than I think.

On the really tough days I pop a pizza in the oven, justify the lack of fresh, nutrition with a few slices of cucumber & chopped pepper on the side and we eat.

I ask for help, something which I was never very good at before. But I got brave to admitting I need help for the simple reason that I can’t let things slip, especially my health.  Sick days are not an option, I’ve just got to get on with it and look after my body and mind in the best possible way; I eat healthy, I keep fit and I practice mindfulness.

I’ve braver than I think!

And I stop beating myself up that I’m failing at this single parenting lark.

My house is clean, the bailiffs aren’t knocking on the door, my boys are happy, healthy and I haven’t hit the social services radar. I’m not doing too bad in the grand scheme of things, time to have few words with my self and see the glass as half full.

Seriously lady, you’re wiser than you think!

There are some valuable life skills I've learnt since becoming a single parent, here's 5 of them;

 

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