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January 12, 2023

Parenting after divorce or separation

Nina Bambrey - Mother and child enjoying each others company - family workshop

Solo Parenting for Adventurous Souls

I have been parenting solo for over a decade now. I think the biggest factor which has made this possible and enjoyable for me is community. I have over the years found creative ways to get support and provide my son with a rich variety of experiences and role models. 

My adventurous parenting started towards the end of my pregnancy. My husband and I made the decision to separate but parent cooperatively. It had become clear to us that, after ten years together, things were no longer working for us as a couple. On the bright side, the decision for us to have a child had been a conscious and deliberate one and we are still very dedicated parents. A couple of months before my son was born, my ex and I moved in with a couple whose baby was due around the same time. This meant that we had people to share the joys and struggles of early parenting with. We shared bright days in the forest with our babies in slings and the hallucinations brought upon us by sleepless nights. 

During this early time I bought a camper van so that I could spend the summer traveling to camps and festivals. The experience was largely a positive one, I found lots of people willing to help out. My background is as a circus acrobat, so being on the road felt familiar and exciting. I think this experience helped to deepen the bond I have with my son. After traveling for the summer my housemates and I started our own acrobatic theatre company so that we could work in a way which accommodated our babies. A fabulous adventure in itself.

I don’t want to rose tint things however. While all of this was going on I was trying to heal from severe attachment trauma which was deeply painful and horribly lonely at times. Despite this I feel content with the life I have created for my son: Also the role modeling I have offered by responding to and surviving hard times. How to find the resilience to meet life’s challenges is one of the best lessons we can teach our children.

Ways to make your solo parent journey more enjoyable

Mutual support 

Connect with other single parents either through friends or networks such as facebook groups for single parents. Doing things like cooking for each other once a week, exchanging childcare and going on days out can really help to lighten the load. In the UK there is a facebook page called “single parents camping”, a great way to affordably go on holiday and meet others in a similar situation.

Find an empathy buddy

A friend you can talk to on a weekly basis where you offer each other empathic listening can be valuable, especially if you are struggling. You may want to have agreements in place around how to do this, for example not offering advice unless asked. Here is a link to some helpful guidelines.

Intergenerational Spaces

Places and activities which are enjoyable for you which you can bring your child to are great. For me having enough flexibility in our routine to bring my son to the occasional party has been helpful. He has also been coming along to aerial training sessions and band practices since he was 5 weeks old. Find out what groups are available in your area which welcome children or start your own meetup with other parents where you can sing, garden, craft, discuss – whatever you fancy! Having a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish can be a great way to socialise without having too much prep to do.

Self Care Practices

Daily self care practices such as yoga, meditation and exercise can really help us to stay regulated. My approach is to get up before my son and do some YouTube yoga or a work out. When he was younger we both enjoyed the channel “cosmic kids yoga” ;guided yoga for children while telling a story such as the plot of star wars or a disney movie: This worked well as a shared activity. 

Get to Know Your Neighbours

It makes a world of difference to know the people who live close to you, it can make you feel safer to know there are people you can turn to in an emergency or even just borrow a drill or an egg from! I host a little gathering for my neighbours at least one a year, my son and I hand make invitations and invite them round for cupcakes.

Let Things Go Sometimes

When you are managing a household, raising children and working you are effectively doing more than one person’s worth of work. That’s why it can be exhausting! Give yourself permission to let a few less important things slide. Letting the floor stay dirty for an extra day so you can play with your child or serving pasta with pesto three nights in a row because you are exhausted are perfectly permissible. When things get overwhelming I recommend taking out a notebook and writing down the things which you would like to prioritise that week to give yourself a bit of breathing space.

These are a few ideas, if you would like help crafting a life which serves you and your children I would be happy to talk to you. Having extra support and care as a single parent is something which will help you to give the best life you can to your children. You can contact me via 07507523163 or nina@journeyintoparenting.com

 

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