Nothing in the world prepares you for the feelings that come the first time your kids walk out the door to stay with your ex-spouse. You expect to miss the little hellions, but the overwhelming anger, guilt, bitterness, and shame? Well, those can come as a total surprise.
Basically, it feels like your insides are being scooped out with a melon baller, one muscle at a time.
But your kids need and deserve time with their other parent, so you have to find a way to survive. This post is about that: you and me finding some creative ways to handle the time alone.
- One of the first things you notice when the kids are gone is the black hole of silence that seems to envelop everything. If you don’t like leaving a radio on and it’s too cold to open the windows, consider a white noise machine (bonus: this one doubles as an air purifier).
- You might also feel the void of having someone or something to care for. I adopted a cat, who has become a valued addition to our small family. She keeps me company, is perfect for our apartment (ie., quiet and poops indoors), and helps teach my son some of life’s most important lessons.
- If you need to get away from the house for something more fulfilling than a walk, consider volunteering. All my fellow introverts just gave a collective groan, but if you’re like me, some days are better than others. So choose a day you’re feeling particularly strong and visit your nearest shelter. No matter the focus, they can always use the extra help!
- Keep a diary. Or a journal. Or whatever you want to call it. Having a place to get out all the crazy frees your mind and settles your emotions.
- Read. Always.
- When night comes and you don’t have any particular desire to leave the house, try Netflix. I’m stingy with my money, so paying AppleTV for content doesn’t happen often (though their selection is the best), and I personally haven’t been able to find much on Amazon. But Netflix? It’s been my low-cost BFF from the beginning, and it never judges me for making questionable choices. (Just don’t binge-watch; sleep matters.)
No matter how you choose to occupy the stretches of time alone, make sure the choice is beneficial to both your mind and your body. Falling into unhealthy patterns only makes more work for you and takes away your ability to be your best self.
(What’s missing from this list? Is there anything you’ve found to be particularly helpful? Add it in the comments below!)