7 Tips To Keep Yourself Busy When Your Kids Are Away.
One thing I pride myself on is my ability to tell the hard truth. I am by no means a “yes man”. If you ask me my opinion, you’re gonna get it… That wall paper choice is ugly, a Moscow Mule is a waste of time, Tom Brady is super annoying, and it’s not okay to cuss unless you really really mean it. There is a decent chance I’ll offer up said opinion without you asking. Telling the truth can be type of charity while sugar coating a harsh reality can be cruel. Which leads me to my first point…. Yes we took the long way to get to this first point but here it is. IT SUCKS TO SHARE YOUR KIDS WITH AN EX! That’s the cold hard truth. In a divorce you might lose half your retirement fund, maybe you lost the house you loved, and you definitely lost the future life you had planned when you got married. But the most difficult thing you lose in a divorce is time with your kids. The silence when they are with their other parent can be deafening and the void feels inescapable. Hey, I’ll admit it, those first few hours when they’re away can seem like a gift. I could go get a pedicure or go to the Target to mill around for hours and buy stuff I didn’t need. Heck I could go to the bathroom without interruption, Praise Jesus! But the luster wears off very quickly and we are left mentally ticking time away until our babies return home. You check your watch repeatedly because that always helps time go faster. It feels lonely and depressing. Don’t even get me started on holidays alone. I officially give you permission to wallow…. a little. But another hard truth is that this is your new reality. I’m sorry your new normal looks so different than you had envisioned. So what can we do about it? We could curl up in our bed with a cheap box of wine (no judgments here) or we can busy ourselves with fun tricks and tips. I like both options but let’s go with option 2 for the heck of it. Here are 7 ideas to (hopefully) make the time tick by a little faster and in the process maybe you’ll end up with softer feet or learning you like Chinese turnip cakes.
1. Mission Impossible? Or mission possible.
Make a list of fun “missions” to send yourself on. Here are some examples: who has the best burger in town, who makes the best donuts, which restaurant has the best happy hour, find the best foot massage, which museum in town is the most interesting. Pick one mission per weekend and challenge yourself to be a sleuthy secret agent. Not only will it occupy your mind and time but it gives you a plethora of interesting things to share with your kiddos once they are back. Plus, you’ll be super great to talk to at parties with all this new found knowledge. Come sit next to me!
2. Personal spa day
No reason to break the bank here ladies. You are BOUND to know exactly 4.3 friends on Facebook or Instagram who sell beauty products like Mary Kay, Rodan+Fields etc. Call up these lovely ladies and ask for samples. Maybe it’s a lip scrub, facial mask, or new mascara. Test drive everything you can get your hands on. Pull those samples out from the back of your bathroom drawer and start working some magic. Maybe forgo the lipstick you bought in 2003, but otherwise experiment and indulge yourself with new (or old) products. Quit saving that stuff for a special occasion. THIS IS A SPECIAL OCCASION! And of course, finish with a long hot bath, a bath bomb…. And a cheap box of wine. If you can’t waste AT LEAST half a day doing this, you just aren’t trying hard enough.
3. Rediscover your town
I’ve lived in the same city all my life yet there are places and things I’ve never seen or tried. I bet the same applies to you. Make a list of local attractions you either haven’t ever visited or haven’t visited in a long time. For me, I’ve never been to Reunion Tower restaurant… honestly it may not even be called that anymore. I’ve never been to the Cowgirl Museum or Southfork Ranch where the TV Dallas was filmed. Take the weekend to rediscover your town without being rushed, without whiny voices or having to hold a sticky little hand.
4. Spring Cleaning. It’s go time!
I don’t know about you, but my anxiety levels went up about 3 times their normal levels when I typed that sentence. Let’s be honest, cleaning out and organizing can be an overwhelming, daunting task. Start small if you need to. Pick the junk drawer; you know the drawer in your kitchen that has your kid’s flash cards you had every intention to use, 2 rubber bands, a stick of gum, ten thousand takeout menus and your retainer from 1987. Yep, that’s the one to start with. Revamp a coat closet or organize your pile of shoes. Pick one area and clean it out thoroughly and get that crap organized. Not only is it satisfying but you’ll likely find some great stuff you forgot you had.
5. Learn French… or juggling… or both!
Pick up a new hobby or skill. Pick something wild that has no practical application other than you think it’s interesting OR choose something that’s been on your to-do list for far too long like learning a new language. Back in 2015, I went on a mission trip to Mexico. I came home and decided I really wanted to learn Spanish once and for all. I Googled some apps that would help. I spent hours on those suckers playing vocab games and “learning” Spanish. I put that in quotes because it’s now 2019 and I couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish to save my life. But the good news is it’s a time waster and that’s all we’re looking for here people. Something to pass the time until your chicks come back to the nest. Nowadays you can Google anything and YOUTUBE is the best for teaching yourself new things. Heck, there is probably a weekend course to become a heart surgeon. My point is, the world is your oyster (whatever the heck that phrase means) so just pick a hobby and go learn to be an awesome basket weaver or balloon animal maker.
6. Adventure is out there!
Travel. Go somewhere new or old but just go. Get the heck out of Dodge. Don’t think that traveling means you have to spends tons of cash. Be sleuthy and find some amazing deals. You don’t have to go to Fiji. Heck, you could find cheap airfare to Cleveland or Tulsa. You could drive until you’re tired and that becomes your destination. Wake up the next morning in your new locale, find a cool little diner, visit one or two local attractions and then head back home taking a secondary route. The idea here is to just go and occupy your time and your mind with something new. The kissing cousin to the travel tip is the travel planning tip. Consider that tip 6a. Travel planning can be a great way to pass the time but also create a sense of excitement for you and your kiddos. Back in 2013 I spent months planning a trip to Disney World for me and my girls. I was obsessed! I researched hotels, airfare, transportation, park tickets and itineraries. Maybe select a road trip destination and then plan each step of the trip. Roadtrippers is a great app for doing just that. I’ve used it myself and it was an awesome tool.
7. Binge, Baby, Binge!
That’s right, you have my permission to pull on your stretchiest pair of sweatpants, lose the bra, grab your comfiest blanket and a cheap box of wine and binge watch Netflix for an entire weekend. Eat only what’s in the house or order take-out. Get serious and obsessive about your binge watching. This is the Olympics of binge watching here people. Here are a few binge worthy ideas (this is a judgement free zone so no judging my suggestions…yes I can be a Star Wars nerd): Friends, The Office, Ally McBeal, Parks and Rec, The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, House Of Cards, Goliath, Grace and Frankie, Schitt’s Creek, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Gilmore Girls, the Avenger/Marvel movies (in order), the Star Wars series (in order), Rocky movies, Indiana Jones movies, Jaws movies, the Hunger Games movies. Okay this should at least get you started, if not get your through the first 5 years. That’s a lot of boxed wine!
The bottom line and the cold hard truth is that you will be sad when your kids are away. But your life shouldn’t cease to exist. Your experiences and your joys and your adventures can exist and you can thrive while you are apart from your babies. There is no shame or guilt in enjoying your life with and without them. This list is meant to inspire you. If you are struggling to find what will spark hope and excitement please give me a call. As a Divorce Recovery coach (and survivor) it’s my passion to help you find your inner sparkle.