How do you cope?
How many of you get anxiety as a single parent who works during the school holidays?
What do you do with the kids and still manage full time work or even part time work? After separation this became a constant challenge! Pre-separation I worked part time and my ex and I used to figure it out and manage to make it work, as most do in a “normal” nuclear family (whatever that may mean today!?).
After separation I dived into full time work with the help of an angel for a babysitter so that I could actually go to work, essentially paying a BIG portion of my income to enable me to ACTUALLY go to work to basically pay the bills and the babysitters with not much money left each month. Not everyone is lucky to get a babysitter like I did, she was young but so wise that she saw the devastation that I was trying to navigate through. She had so much compassion that she would turn up so early in the morning despite being sick, because she knew how much I relied on her: I needed her to be my wings! She never let me down!
We all do what we have to do BUT, any impending school holidays used to give me anxiety! For one, because in my situation I could not afford to pay for a babysitter for all the days of the holidays so I was lucky enough to have family that lived around 25-30min away from me who would offer help in looking after my kids. So as young as they were, I would pack them off for a few days at a time to stay with family so that I could go to work. I would then go straight from work to my aunts’ house to have dinner and then back home alone while my kids stayed on so that I can wake at 6am the next morning to get to work again. All this time my ex barely helped! All the sick leave and annual leave was his alone. It was unfair, but it was what it was. I had to find a way to cope.
Why is it that one person always ends up carrying most of the load, the decision to have kids is “usually” a joint decision (this I believe is a totally separate topic that I am currently writing!). The constant back and forth between home and other peoples home used to impact the kids greatly (but only one parent cared!). I used to get home and have a good cry after leaving the kids at my aunt’s but consoled myself knowing that they were at least with family that loved them (despite them begging me not to leave).
NOTE: The kids were 5 and 8 at the time.
I also dreaded this time due to the loneliness when they were not home with me, and also knowing they would rather be home in their own beds (it used to crush my heart)! We spent quite a few years enduring the cruelties of separation, ones that many take for granted in a nuclear home (being home during the holidays with their parents).
A minority of you may have a 50/50 arrangement where you share the care during the holidays. I was NOT one of them, BUT we would love to hear how you achieved this?!? Please share?!?
I soon learnt that PLANNING was imperative so I started to put together a schedule and tried to plan ahead of ANY holiday periods so that the kids were not out of the house for more than 2 consecutive nights. Putting in place a schedule really helped prepare the kids emotionally for the week ahead.
Annual leave was also planned strategically to make the best out of time at home, so taking a day before Easter if the holidays fell during that time, was a key tip! It felt like there was more time.
Packing the kids with their comfort toys Mr T (a beanie kid that we bought on a family holiday in Hawaii when my son was 3) and Baby T (another beanie kid was my daughters). Surprise notes were also included within their bags to cheer them up each day that they were away from home. The surprises weren’t always expensive or huge, they were thoughtful “just us” reminders to comfort them when all they wanted to be was home.
Setting up a TRIBE:
As the kids grew older, I began to meet more single parents although a few years ago there were not that many in my kids’ school, however now there are many more. Meeting others similar to me and even school parents that were in nuclear homes that showed me kindness by offering to help whenever needed. Planning ahead and co-ordinating with people who were kind or just in a similar situation also helped diffuse the weight of parenting this period ALONE! The feelings one endures when one parent walks away and the other has to carry the weight can be quite confronting however, I hope these will help you feel like you are not alone!
RECENT BLOG: Get your MOJO back post separation
There are also many school holiday programs run by companies like Camp Australia. Some of you may also be able to claim the childcare subsidy (conditions apply but details can be found on the Department of Education site.
Whatever your situation is during the school holidays, planning and setting up tribe helped me! Attack each holidays’ like a BOSS and plan, plan! Arm yourself up with courage and a poker face when needed and do the BEST you can! No one will understand the emotional crush that comes with navigating situations like this better than other separated parents, find people navigating through the same situations with our TRIBE at www.theseparationexchange.com
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is general information only and is not provided as a substitute for legal/professional advice. If you have a legal/financial/ any other issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or professional before making a decision about your options or personal situation. TheSeparationExchange.com cannot provide legal/professional advice.
My name is Anju, after going through a “surprise” separation and divorce was a rebirth which awakened me!
After a period of sadness and struggle, revealed a person who was forced to sort her shi# out and find the strength needed to raise 2 young kids without a partner!
And so, a new journey began with new dreams: www.TheSeparationExchange.com
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