Marriage can be an emotional roller coaster. As you embark on your journey together, you may feel love, excitement, nervousness, happiness, and more. One emotion you may never expect to feel is loneliness, though. After all, isn’t finding connection and a partner to share everything the purpose for getting married?
Eventually, life happens. Whether your spouse works crazy hours, travels for work, or has a full-time hobby/job on the side, you may find yourself alone and thrown into the married single mom role more than you ever expected.
Even if your spouse tried to “prepare you” (my husband assured me that he would only be gone four weeks out of the year to work on the farm – oh, the irony), it’s hard to prepare for something that you’ve never experienced. Whether you’re a military wife, married to a police officer who works odd shifts, the wife of a firefighter who works 24-hour shifts, or have a spouse who travels for extended periods, it’s hard to “prepare” for the loneliness.
Loneliness stinks. It’s not fun. It’s not easy dragging your kids here, there, and everywhere, all while explaining that Daddy won’t be home until after they’re in bed, the next day, or even in six months.
Even so, it’s a reality for many people, and it can crop up even in the happiest marriages.
If you find yourself in the role of a married single mom, here are my best tips to survive (and thrive) even when you’re alone.
1. Only do what you can handle by yourself
I make this mistake more often than I care to admit. I’m always signing the kids up for swim lessons or t-ball, in addition to carting them around for their allergy shots and everything else.
Start saying no.
Be realistic with your plans, and think about all the details before you commit to an activity. I quickly figured out that I couldn’t handle taking both kids to back-to-back swim lessons.
If you’re required to do two different things at the same time with your kids (even if it’s in the same location), trust me, it won’t be fun.
Don’t try to take the kids to something huge, like a theme park, by yourself! Inevitably, someone will end up running away or throwing a temper tantrum, and it won’t be pleasant.
Plan activities where you won’t be overwhelmed. Try to plan short, easy activities. For example, I love taking the kids to our local zoo, which is really small. We can see every animal in two hours (and we leave with our sanity still intact)!
2. Enlist help to combat your loneliness (and help with everyday activities)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Want to take the kids to the zoo? Ask Grandma to come along! Need to take your baby to the doctor but don’t know what to do with your oldest? Have someone meet you.
If all else fails, find a babysitter! I take my toddler to an in-home daycare for a couple hours every week. I use that time to grocery shop, run errands, and get things done that I wouldn’t be able to do with kids underfoot. You could also hire a babysitter to come along if you decide that you’re brave enough to tackle a theme park by yourself. 😉
3. Spend time on yourself
When you’re not dragging the kids around town, life at home can get lonely, too. Take that opportunity to do something that you enjoy. A lot of these activities can even be done while folding that mountain of laundry that never goes away, even when your husband isn’t there to dirty more clothes.
There are many places that offer online classes, but I’ve taken some fun ones through Udemy and Craftsy. Learn how to cook tasty Mediterranean dinners or take better pictures of your kids (I’ve taken both classes through Craftsy). You could also listen to podcasts as you putter around your house (I love listening to podcasts while I fold laundry).
Try a new hobby
Similar to taking a class, you could also take up a hobby. Maybe you used to sew but stopped, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try knitting. Try it!
I used to do calligraphy in high school, so I recently bought a book about hand lettering. Try new things until you find something you love.
When the house is quiet, there’s nothing like snuggling under a blanket with a cup of tea and a good book. Throughout the year, I’ve been pinning books that I want to read on Pinterest. If you’re looking for some great reading lists, check out my Books and Inspiration Board.
Watch chick flicks
After the kids are in bed, take advantage of the free TV remote and watch whatever your heart desires! Pop some popcorn, pour a glass of wine, and catch up on your favorite TV show. If you have an Amazon Prime account, you could also watch free movies from their huge selection.
Take a bubble bath, paint your nails, or do something fun for yourself. Relax and enjoy this quiet time.
Exercise has been proven time and again to boost your mood.
Try a new class (I love Zumba – it’s high energy, and you can have fun while exercising). Many gyms offer childcare, so you won’t have to worry about who’s taking care of the kids while you burn off some steam.
I also enjoy trying new workouts online or using a treadmill while reading or listening to a podcast. It’s the perfect opportunity to invest in yourself.
Loneliness doesn’t have to consume your marriage. As a married single mom, it’s so easy to get bitter, especially when you’re overwhelmed. But if you have an otherwise happy, healthy marriage, loneliness doesn’t have to be the cause of fights. Take this opportunity to bond with your kids and enrich yourself (even if you have to say no to some things or ask for help once in a while).