A Single Mum’s “Weekend Off”

I’ve been asked a few times what I do on the weekends A is at her dad’s (that’s every other weekend) and earlier I saw a post on @frolo_app on instagram about how lonely weekends when your children are at the other parent’s can be so I thought I’d tell you what I do and give some advice.

So here is a summary of what I did this weekend:

Friday 5.45PM: drop off A with her dad at St Pancras, this went badly as she was screaming that she didn’t want to go and wanted to stay with me. Her dad had to physically restrain her and carry her away screaming. People possibly thought she was being kidnapped!

Friday 7.45PM: cab to my friend’s birthday dinner. There were 4 of us and we had an interesting conversation about how much “outsourcing” of your children is OK. As a single mum if I didn’t use babysitters I would have very little freedom, she’s only at her dad’s 4 nights a month so other people than me do look after her from time to time. To be honest I feel lucky to be able to afford babysitters.

Saturday morning: annoyingly wake at 7.30 AM despite going to bed at 1AM and being childless this weekend. Somehow manage to go back to sleep for another hour between 8.30 and 9.30. 2 fried eggs on crumpets, 2 cups of tea and 2 episodes of Marie Kondo on Netflix and I’m ready to face the world and also now have an obsession with tidying up!

Saturday afternoon: I go to TkMaxx and find A a great coat for next winter and then go to one of my favourite places in the world to buy cleaning supplies: Lidl!!!

I spent the rest of the afternoon “Marie Kondoing” the flat and feel much better after filling bags with rubbish and stuff to take to the charity shop. How long it will take me to get to the charity shop is anyone’s guess…

Saturday 6PM: I get on the tube to go to my boyfriend’s, later we go out for very good sushi and my new obsession (in addition to Marie Kondo) green tea ice cream!

Sunday is spent with my boyfriend, we go to a reformer pilates class, which is hard but that I really enjoy. If I could I’d have a reformer machine in my house!

4.30PM: I leave to go back home and get ready for A to come back

5.45PM: A is back, she always gives me the biggest hug when she gets to the door and then the whole dinner, bedtime malarkey begins…

I realise I’m lucky I have a boyfriend and see him most Saturday evenings and usually at least part of Sunday when A is at her dad’s and that clearly fills up a good chunk of the weekend. I’m also lucky that I am very happy spending time alone and don’t really get lonely. Also in the past 2 years since my ex-husband moved out I haven’t given my flat as much love as I should have so always have plenty to do and now I’ve discovered Marie Kondo I’m unstoppable! Also I always do barre or pilates on my weekends without A and using your weekends without children to exercise is definitely something I’d recommend.

On Friday night I mentioned that I feel a bit awkward seeing my friends that have families at the weekend as there is this understanding that that is “family time” and it feels a bit odd meeting up alone without bringing my daughter. However my friends made it clear that I’m always welcome to come over with child or without, not that I ever doubted it. Don’t assume you’re disturbing any of your friends that aren’t single at the weekend.

So here is my advice for any single parents on the weekends you don’t have your children:

  1. Try and be super positive and see this time as a gift as most parents NEVER get a break
  1. It’s the ultimate time for “self care”
  2. Don’t feel bad if you do nothing, I have spent hours and hours watching the Kardashians or my ultimate favourite “Million Dollar Listing New York” and I have no shame!
  3. Follow the Frolo app on instagram, there are loads of interesting discussions on their stories and once it launches it will be the perfect app for meeting other parent’s in the same boat
  4. Try and join your local “single parents” Facebook Group or set one up if there isn’t one
  5. Use that time to exercice, it’s good for the soul and the body
  6. Marie Kondo your house!
  7. I’m always happy to meet new people so if you’re in London get in touch!
  8. When you’re ready, join a dating app, if anything it can be pretty entertaining!
  9. Do what makes you happy and relaxes you whatever that may be – this is your time

When I realised my husband and I were going to get divorced, one of the things that made me the saddest was the idea of not seeing A at the weekend but I’ve learnt to really appreciate these weekends and I actually even need them for my mental health because the rest of time parenting alone is INTENSE.

On that note, remember the following:

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Dad, Here’s What’s Been Happening In 2018

Hi Dad,

I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on 2018 as it’s very nearly over!

Nobody has killed Trump yet

Brexit is the biggest shambles in UK history, nobody knows what the fxxx is going on

Liverpool are top of the Premier League

France won the World Cup (England did surprisingly well, we all got very excited and started singing “Football’s coming home” multiple times a day, we even won an important game on penalties!!!!)

Bitcoin went down the toilet (not sure it was a “thing” before you died but as you read The Times every day, you probably had heard of it)

Everyone also got very excited about using the space bar on iPhones as a cursor, who knew?!

Lana and I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z and they were AMAZING

I got divorced on July 4th, Independence Day!

Arabella turned 4 a few weeks ago and you would have so much fun with her, she’s absolutely crazy, some weird mix of all of us, she can draw like mum and Sandie, is a drama queen like Lana and she loves attention like you (and me). You would be so proud of her, she really is the best girl in the world (obviously drives me absolutely round the bend).

Lana lived with us for a few months, which was really nice and has now moved back to France to be with the Love of her life, you need to know she is really happy, doing very well and is now my rock (I know it’s hard to believe but true!). Dad, she turned things around, you’d be proud of her too.

We spent Easter at Sophie’s with the boys, which was super nice and Louise, Tallulah and Ellie are coming for Christmas.

You would love “A star is born”.

Very very sadly both Solly and Richie (last year) lost one of their sons.

On a happier note Billy had a baby and Carrie got married!

You are the one, who gave me my love of Christmas, you made such an effort, often with limited means. Your old smelly work socks as stockings, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and brandy butter – some of your traditions that I will carry on for ever.

We’re all OK Dad, we miss you terribly, especially at this time of year but there is a little bit of you in all of us. The world has gone mad that’s for sure and I hope you get to watch the show.

Merry Christmas Dad, I’m sure many glasses will be raised for you next week.

I love you

Xxx

For Those of You About to Fall

A friend of mine recently told me about one of her friends whose husband had suddenly left her for a colleague. She described feeling like she was at the top of a very steep slide and she couldn’t stop the fall. I know what she means and I want to tell her and anybody else who is ever at the top of the slide that yes the fall hurts but you land, you always land and you might land somewhere better than when you started. To quote La Haine “ … Mais l’ important n’est pas la chute, c’est l’atterrissage.”.

I was recently lucky enough to attend a brunch where Jo Malone was speaking (this was at The Ned, which I am obsessed with so it was definitely one of the better Saturdays of my life! Thanks again Ruth), she is very inspirational, I was on the verge of tears at least twice, there really is nothing better than strong positive emotions. One thing that she said that struck a chord with my divorced self was “Struggle takes you to such great heights”, think about that for a minute the next time everything seems to be going wrong (you know like when your hike hates you, the dinner has burnt, everything went wrong at work and there is wine in the fridge….). The old cliche of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is true”, indeed I’m pretty sure anybody whose marriage ends badly is a little wiser the next time…

Anyway back to the slide down. I’ll never forget my first meeting with my solicitor, having to explain why I was there, what had happened, what the financial situation was etc. That was the rope of my slide. It made the end of my marriage very real and was the beginning of the divorce process which can be horrendous, mine wasn’t easy but it could have been so much worse, I didn’t have to move for a start so I know how lucky I am. Realising I had to share my daughter was heartbreaking as was the day I had to transfer a lot of money. But guess what? I actually enjoy the weekends when I’m alone and my flat is now 100% mine and best of all I had a divorce party with a divorce cake that tasted better than my wedding cake and I have a very big smile on my face on the picture of me cutting in…

So my advice is : find your “separation/divorce village”. You need your family, friends and a good solicitor. You need wine or chocolate or both, you need spa days with your girlfriends, you need lipstick, you need a new bra or two, you need dancing in the kitchen with your child, you need sunsets in Ibiza, you need to listen to Beyonce’s Lemonade on repeat (“Becky with the good hair…), you need that feeling on the first New Year’s Eve after separation, you need to remember “mieux vaut etre seule que mal accompagnee”, you need Bumble for when you’re ready to come across a load of weirdos but some good ones who will help you move on, you need a haircut, some pink shoes and you need to believe you can get down that seemingly never ending slide and land on your feet. Not only will you land on your feet, your divorce will be pronounced on the 4th of July, which is Independence Day and you’ll have your delicious cake and eat it.

Girl, you can do it, at some point you have to let yourself fall. The single mum club ain’t that bad, I welcome you into it and it doesn’t have to last for ever.

One Year Older…

I turned 36 a month ago and was reminded today that Sex and The City is 20 years old…time is flying! I am going to start with saying that I have really been finding it quite tough recently. Indeed the life of a single working mum is bloody hard and I am one of lucky ones as I have a job and support. Also it was the anniversary of my dad dying, which didn’t help. Still I am feeling better, maybe it was because today was sunny or because I ate loads of M&Ms or because a few things reminded me of how lucky I am and am going to try and keep dragging my mood and confidence upwards over the next few weeks (slowly does it).

I have never been great at self care and have a tendency to not only keep my emotions in but also to “catastrophize” ( ; ) TM ) and then I closed a car door on my thumb, got really bad PMT, somehow convinced myself I was rubbish at my job (I am not), felt fat, wasn’t sleeping properly, got post holiday blues, indeed who wouldn’t feel sad at leaving this:

And ended up in some kind of downward spiral. A good and wise friend of mine asked me what I was doing about improving things and basically concluded that I needed a “win”. He was right so I spent a ton of money on Amazon buying all sorts of books, my mum arrived for a week, I looked at my performance at work and realized I am not rubbish, got some encouraging words from an old friend, spent Saturday evening at The Ned, which I love, slept more, bought some bargain shoes at TkMaxx, watched TED talks, discovered Love Island, cried and cried again and I am very happy to report that things are looking up! There were always going to be some tough moments during a divorce and following losing a parent whilst bringing up a feisty child to say the least:

So yep, I do have my vulnerable moments, moments where I actually wondered if I wasn’t depressed but took time to analyse the situation and make adjustments such as trying to sleep more and accept that I get really bad PMT since I gave birth. Losing a night’s sleep because I was in A&E for my thumb really didn’t help and was one of the catalysts for this not so great period.

Anyway, it’s time for Love Island, which is basically self care. Bisous everybody (bright dresses and smiles are a good thing!):

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Quick Note To My 15 Year Old Self

You wanted to be one of those business women you used to see walking through airports, it seemed so glamorous and high powered. Well guess what? It’s not glamorous, especially not when they make the dreaded announcement that all bags have to go in the hold because this means you will have to wait at the other end for the bag to come out on the carousel, which means it will take longer to finally get to your hotel when a big comfy bed awaits (and a lovely bar it turns out in this case). All you’ll be thinking about is if your daughter is going to behave well and be OK whilst you are away and if your meetings will go well. You won’t feel glamorous drinking a tea from EAT in the departure lounge. However you will feel pretty pleased with yourself at how efficient you are at travelling by now: timing, packing, security, you know exactly what you are doing. One thing you still haven’t mastered is getting out of Zurich main station, still getting lost after going there for over 10 years, it’s your travelling nemesis!

Still you will enjoy watching French TV when you go to Geneva and drinks by the lake. You’ll fall in love with the Helvetia Hotel in Zurich and crave their scrambled eggs after client dinners. You’ll always steal gummy bears from the SWISS departure lounge and drink apple juice on the flights. Going to NYC for work will become your favourite but that stops in 2014 unfortunately!

You’ll exchange your Eurostar points for Selfridges vouchers and go on many a free flight with your Avios.

Anyway those women you used to see rushing through the airports were probably tired and definitely unaware of the strong impression they were making on teenage girls.

One last thing, you’ll have a very cute daughter and a fun (but sometimes hard) life ahead of you and don’t worry about the BAC, you’ll do really well.

2017 When You Were Up You Were UP But When You Were Down, You Were Seriously DOWN!

This is my first blog post of 2018 and I just want to mention the bad bits of 2017 first so then I can MOVE ON.
This time last year I christened 2017 the Year of Fun and in many ways it was but it was also the year of heartache. My dad died, I have 3 colleagues, who also lost a parent, 2 of my dad’s best friends lost a son and I started divorce proceedings. So there you go, 2017 was definitely a rollercoaster of a year, it’s not ideal to lose a parent and a marriage at the same time to say the least… Strangely seeing my dad very sick gave me the courage to say enough was enough and finish my marriage. Indeed when you see someone’s life slipping away, it gives you that kick up the arse to move yours in another happier, healthier and better direction. My dad would approve and would be proud I’m sure. My dad would also be very proud of the changes my sister has made, I won’t elaborate but the way she is turning her life around is one of the highs of 2017.
Last year, I made 17 goals ( 17 Goals For 2017 ) and here’s a recap of what I achieved and didn’t!
Listen to more live music (lots of different genres) anybody want to be my concert buddy?! FAIL: I did see Adele, which was great and Bananarama but not much else. Must try harder this year!

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Have a girls night out at least once a month MIXED: I haven’t kept track of this but I do feel like I’ve seen girlfriends at least once a month. This is something that is important to me so I think I might host a girls’ dinner once a month at least and plan ahead so then I know this will happen!

Go back to Ibiza DOUBLE SUCCESS: I went back twice! White sangria on a beach on a Sunday afternoon, staying in the same hotel as Eva Longoria, Lychee martinis at Nobu and sunsets at Experimental beach – there isn’t much else to say!

Sort my hair out without becoming too mumsy FAIL: I haven’t changed my hair, it’s still the same mid-length kind of brown…

Go clubbing in Berlin with my friend M FAIL!

Be more stylish – Not sure I can be the judge of that!

Do something really out of my comfort zone – not sure what yet! SUCCESS-Spending time with people that are SO different to you and going to places you really don’t normally go to and going to Ibiza twice – enough said
Regain confidence, I lost some in 2016, need to get it back! SUCCESS: a picture speaks a thousand words

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Taken on New Year’s Eve 2017

Keep the blog going and make it better and get more out of it- MIXED It’s still going but that’s about it, except for some free (but very nice by the way!) Polish bread and cakes…

Reduce meat and dairy consumption by a third (have a veggie hello fresh box one week a month) SUCCESS!

Go to reformer pilates at least 4 times a month FAIL

Get a subscription to Vanity Fair and the Economist SEMI-FAIL: I now have an Economist subscription, don’t always read the whole thing…

Speak to Arabella in French 95% of the time FAIL: I need to decide to speak to her in French or not, it’s just not 100% natural but I know she will thank me later…

Feel more goosebumps SUCCESS: listening to Adele live, admiring the beauty of Santorini, watching A at her first ballet class

Cry more tears of joy – Well…let’s just say that there have been tears in 2017 and mostly not of joy but I have definitely been happy despite everything

Have more “this is amazing” moments – SUCCESS: despite the double D situation well I definitely have had those moments I was hoping for. These were the highs:
The weather being perfect the day of my dad’s funeral, I mean unseasonable warm and not a cloud in the sky. Admiring the view from a hot tub in Santorini, sledding down a mountain at midnight in Switzerland in absolute silence, cycling round Formentera, taking selfies with Eva Longoria, brunch at The Ned on a Sunday ( I know I am slightly obsessed!), yellow tail sashimi at Nobu by the sea in Ibiza, watching the most amazing sunset on the first night of my holiday in Mauritius with my mum and daughter and being proud that I could take us there. Spending the day at a country hotel with very old girlfriends, watching Arsenal at the emirates in the best seats, seeing so many of the people I love at my birthday drinks, seeing friends become parents and so many of the funny things A comes out with. Getting drunk on Sangria on a Sunday afternoon in Ibiza and having to walk for an hour through fields because there were no cabs whilst laughing your head off, watching A dance in our hotel in Mauritius with the traditional dancers, an area at Reading festival being named after my dad

Spend New Years Even 2017 thinking back on what an amazing year 2017 was, ideally on a beach or a ski slope. MIXED – I didn’t make it to a beach or a ski slope but I was happy on New Year’s Eve, happy 2017 was over but also much more at peace emotionally than I was on the 31st of December 2016, which really was a low low. 2017 was as amazing as it could be given the circumstances

Obviously I have no idea what is going to happen in 2018 but here is what I hope for:
• To learn how to relax more, every time I go to reflexology I get told that I seem unable to switch off
• For all the pregnancies around me to go well
• To stop feeling the sense of failure I have at being a single mum
• For A to be happy despite the change in her circumstances
• For more highs and less lows
• To kick arse at work
• To be there for all the people that were there for me this year
• To keep meeting new lovely people
• To dance more
• For anybody I know considering a big change to find the courage to do it

And finally I want to thank all my friends and family for every call, every text, every email, every thought and every minute they spent with me last year. For being there for me when things were really tough. It took the worst of circumstances to remind me but I can tell you that I am very lucky and have many amazing people around me. I hope to see them all more this year. You know who you are, you are my family.

On that note, I am closing the door on 2017 with my head held high and my heart open.

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