Pets are Essential

Many people don’t like pets. Maybe they don’t like the dog hair or having to walk the dog or clean out the litter box every day. Or maybe they travel and find it a hassle to deal with pets when you just want to get in the car and drive. Or maybe they’re allergic to cats. I get it. There are lots of good reasons not to own pets. But I feel like they are essential as a single mom.

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Holidays as a Single Parent

If you’ve been divorced or separated recently and haven’t gone through a holiday alone yet, it will be tough. These are the days you most remember being with your spouse and spending them partially alone can get depressing. So, how do you survive the holidays? What can you do to bring back the joy? Here are a few suggestions.

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Safety as a Single Mom

Maybe it was an illusion, but I definitely felt safer when I was married. It is comforting knowing there’s a strong man sleeping next to you at night. Now? It’s just me and my docile beagle. I don’t live in a dangerous town or in a sketchy neighborhood in the least, but it’s always smart to think about safety any way. You never know what could happen.

When I was twenty-two, I lived with three girls on a nice street in Madison, Wisconsin. One morning I was getting ready for work and a man dressed in a black running suit and wearing gloves broke into our apartment. I didn’t know he was there until he approached me in the bathroom. It was then that I realized he was carrying a knife. I screamed uncontrollably and he put his hand over my mouth and told me to stop screaming. That he wasn’t going to hurt me. He closed the door to the bathroom so only he and I were in there. It was the scariest moment of my life. He eventually asked us girls for money. We gave him some and closed the doors to our bedroom and pushed a dresser in front of it. We then jumped out the window to escape. The police were called and they came into my apartment with guns drawn. I had to describe the man to an artist and tried to identify him in a line up. He was never caught. 

Luckily no one was hurt physically. Emotionally, it was a different story. This experience made me realize how vulnerable I was. For a year after this incident, I couldn’t be alone in my house. Whenever I walked into my apartment, I’d grab a knife and walk around to make sure no one was there. I hung bells on all my doors so I knew when someone walked in. I’m pretty sure that my anxiety started around this time. I feared the worst case scenario because I had lived it once before.

So, I’m pretty conscious of safety because I wouldn’t want anything like this to happen again, especially to my children. So, the first thing I’d suggest if you are a single woman and want to be safe is to get a security system for your house. I chose SimpliSafe. I spent about $250 for the equipment and they charge me just under $25 a month for monitoring. I have sensors on all my doors, a glass breaking sensor next to my sliding glass door, a panic button in my room, and a camera. Every night I lock all the doors, close all the blinds, and turn the security system on. It gives me a lot of peace of mind.

I’m also a runner and in the winter I sometimes run at night. I always carry pepper spray when I run or walk at night. I also have some in the night stand next to my bed.

Get to know your neighbors. If they know you’re single, they’ll watch out for you. My neighbor across the street has closed my garage door for me at night when I’ve forgotten. It’s nice to know people are there to check on things if you’re out of town too.

Traveling alone or with your kids brings safety risks too. I suggest not traveling in the dark if you can manage it. Always have your cell phone and make sure it’s charged. Tell friends or family where you’ll be and check in with them whenever you reach your destination. Lock your doors.

All of these things help me to feel safer. It’s not good to live in fear all the time, but it is good to be smart about safety. As my experience has shown me, scary things can happen. But even though I’ve lived through them, I’m still able to live alone and feel relatively safe.

Exercising and Single Parenting

For me, exercise is essential. I can blow off steam, work out anxiety, or calm myself down with a 45 minute run. It relieves stress and keeps me active and fit. I’ve been a runner for seven years. Prior to that I hated running and said I’d never do it. I only walked. But then I had my second child and I couldn’t lose the weight fast enough. So, I decided to start running I ran two miles almost every day for 2 years. I’d run a 5K on the weekends. Then I started running four miles three times a week. I wanted to keep up with my sister so I could run with her. Now I run twice a week, attend a zumba class once a week, and do weight lifting twice a week. Even though I’m a single parent and don’t have much time, I manage to squeeze these sessions in anyway. Here’s how I do it.

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Get Your Kids Reading

My oldest son really enjoys reading. And he’s a twelve-year-old boy. That’s pretty rare. I think there are reasons why he enjoys reading and scores high on reading tests. It’s because his parents have instilled a love of reading in him since birth.

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Screen Time

In this day and age, kids love to be on screens. They love video games and always seem to want some sort of new system. For us it was a Wii U at first. My son and I sold $2500 worth of Cub Scouts popcorn to get a free Wii U system several years ago. (I think I would rather have just bought one for him!) Then it was the Nintendo 3DS. Then the Xbox. And most recently this year, it was an Oculus Quest VR system. It’s always something. I have even put a TV in the boys’ bedroom so that I can still watch HGTV at night and not have to share the TV. I think it’s safe to say I have been sucked into the tyranny of the screen.

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Buying a Car as a Single Woman

If you’re a woman, you are freaked out whenever something car-related happens in your life. If your car needs repairs because you’re hearing a weird noise every time you accelerate, then you get freaked out. If your lease is up, like mine was this past December, you freak out. Why? Because women routinely get taken advantage of by car mechanics or car salespeople. It’s a given if you’re a woman.

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Before and After School Routines

I like my systems. If there is chaos in my life, I systematize it, organize it, and conquer it. One of the areas of chaos for us as a family, and for most families, is before school times and after school times. It’s especially hard to be single and have to get your kids out the door in the morning all by yourself. It takes a long time for me to get ready in the morning, let alone my two boys. I really don’t want to get up unnecessarily early to get everything done…I like my sleep…so I have to make everything as efficient as possible.

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Fun Things to do with Kids

I found that after my separation from my husband, I no longer took my time with my kids for granted. When I was married, I’d do my own thing, and maybe complain about the kids from time to time. But when I no longer saw them as much, I’d want to see them every chance I got. And I wanted my time with them to be really special. So, we’re always doing fun things. For this week’s blog, I’ll list all the things that my boys and I have done to give you some ideas for fun family dates. Even if you aren’t separated like me, they grow up so fast. I can’t believe that in nine short years I’ll have two adults on my hands! So, take advantage of the time you have now. Even if those days seem long…the years are so short. Here are some ideas for making those moments count. Some you can do now during the pandemic, others have to wait.

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Creative Lunch Ideas

Your child may be getting their lunch at school. And that would certainly be a lot easier than packing their lunches at home. But if you have a kid like mine, who won’t eat the school lunch because he thinks it’s disgusting, you’re going to have to pack lunches. And they might get bored if you pack peanut butter and jelly every day. 

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