When You’re Alone at Special Times of the Year

There are certain times of the year when being alone, perhaps without your children, can feel especially raw. Christmas Day, long Bank Holiday weekends, holidays and key social events can be a real struggle if you’re on your own, especially for the first year. Being separated from your children, when you’re used to spending lots of time with them, can be really tough.

Tips for being alone at special times of the year;

- Remind yourself that it's just one day.

If you miss out on a Christmas or birthday together it can be easy to get caught up in a cycle of gloom and despondency. Try to detach from those feelings, arrange an alternative day to celebrate and really focus on making your times together special.

- Acknowledge time alone

Acknowledge that some time alone can be a great opportunity to catch up on chores and essentials, but also dedicate some time so you enjoy a few treats. Have a leisurely bath, light those lovely scented candles you've been saving, watch the match, read a book, listen to some good music, prepare your favourite food. Relish having the place to yourself. Relax, de-stress and treat yourself well over Christmas or the holidays.

- Avoid guilt-tripping your children

or regaling them with details of your distress. Children are not stupid, they're good at sensing how you're feeling and will usually be very aware of what's going on. Yes, they'll allow the other parent to bribe them with holidays and expensive gifts - why wouldn't they! But they'll also appreciate your daily efforts to feed and care for them, the things you suspect go largely unnoticed.

- Maintain an involvement

in other areas of life so that you’re prepared for Christmas and significant times of the year. Keep your identity and establish interests away from the home. Keep up to date with the news, popular TV, what's happening in your neighbourhood, so you're confident enough to participate in conversations, build new social connections and be interested and interesting, so attracting new friends.

- Is it time to accept an offer

from friends or colleagues to be introduced to someone they know? Might it be fun to meet someone new and take a chance on something different? Mixing and talking to new people, particularly potential dates, is a great way to improve your confidence and self-esteem, motivate you to dress up, look after yourself and remind yourself that you're more than 'just' a parent! Plus conversing socially with new people is an important skill, quickly lost if we're out of practice and haven't socialised independently in a while.

- Are you ready

to consider dipping a tentative toe into the official dating scene again? Online dating sites are a popular way of meeting new people and also offer great practical safety advice. For example, be careful how much personal information you divulge, limit a first meeting to an hour and in a public place, and trust your gut instincts if you start to feel uneasy.

- Make invitations.

Take charge of the parts of your life you have some control over, like your social life. Be proactive and join mailing lists for details of what’s on over the holidays. Source free exhibitions, two for the price of one offers and early doors specials on meals. Become the go-to guy for fun and also accept when others reciprocate and invite you along. Keep in touch with what's happening around you.

- Provide reasonable options.

Your friends and inner circle may wish to socialise but may need to be careful about their expenditure, especially over Christmas. You could suggest a pamper evening at home, or a supper party where everyone contributes a dish and/or bottle. Or retrieve your board games and have competition evenings; I know several people who started games evenings over the winter months and enjoyed them so much that they became a regular part of their calendar.

- Also, try to make time

for some of the things that interest you. Volunteer, join a class, walking group or activity you enjoy. Many voluntary organisations are desperate for help, especially over Christmas. Maybe alternate child care with other parents and dedicate some free time to mixing and meeting people with similar interests to you. Enjoy sharing conversations, becoming friends and, who knows, maybe meeting a potential new love interest too.

Remind yourself that each situation has pros and cons. Being single isn't the end of the world! Alone doesn't have to mean lonely. In fact many people in unhappy relationships will envy you your freedom and the fact that you're now starting out afresh. Relax and enjoy your Christmas!

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor. She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon. For more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net

If you found this article of interest, you may also enjoy “The Loneliness of Divorce”.

If you are going through separation or divorce and need help to sort your finances out, please contact Tamsin by email tamsin@smartdivorce.co.uk for a no obligation conversation.


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