Hi...I'm Renee!

I'm a busy mom who uses mindless-creativity to easily calm my mind, ignite my joy + savor life. Learn more here.

How I Survived 10 Weeks a Single Mommy

This is a post that's way overdue.  Like way over a year ago overdue.  I'd written that I survived 10 weeks as a single mommy in January, 2011.  When I wrote that post, I said I was going to write HOW I survived.

So, here we are, June 11th, and I'm finally positing it. :)  But, good news!  I'm still doing all of these things to this day.

When D left me for 10 weeks, I learned so much about myself and things I needed to change in order to feel calm and sane as a mama to a young one.

First, we had just moved to a new city to live.  Second, C had just turned one. Third, I didn't know anyone in the area - no family or close friends (I was just starting to meet a few moms through C's gym class).

So with that...here's HOW I survived.

1.  Mommy + Me Classes and Mommy Groups: Once we settled and before D left for his training, I began searching for mommy groups and classes for C.  I went to a few and I signed C up for a few more classes than I already had her in.  I thought this would keep us busy and the weeks would go by faster.  Well, as we started going, I started getting more exhausted.  Because I was doing everything (cleaning, cooking, bathing, entertaining and everything else that comes with taking care of one-year-old on my own), I grew more and more tired.  I realized that I needed to cut back on the classes and we needed more "chill" days at home.  Once I did that, life went a little more smoothly for us and I didn't feel so drained.  So we only went to once class per week and the other days we hung at home.  It was the best decision I could have ever made.

2.  Food: Before having my daughter, I was making pretty much every meal from scratch.  I was still doing this when my daughter was born.  Once I was alone for 10 weeks, I cut back on this BIG TIME.  It was getting to be too much and it didn't help that my daughter's major fussy time came during cooking-dinner-time.  I began to make one or two big meals that I could use for leftovers.  We ate the same exact meal for many weeks...chicken thighs or drumsticks, mac and cheese and rice and veggies.  This became our staple and I didn't mind because it was easy and there were lots of leftovers so I could easily heat it up for the next few nights.

3.  Clean As You Go: This goes along with #2. I started doing this when I was in college.  While I'm cooking, I clean up all the dishes and pots and pans I can before the meal is served.  That way I don't have as much to clean up after dinner is done.  I find myself doing this around the house, too.  Like when I get up in the morning and I'm getting dressed, I'll pick things up around my room and put them back where they belong.

The only thing, I began doing this SUPER FAST (which brought about my Slow Down, Mama! eBook).  When D came home, he said I was a "cleaning machine" because I zooming through the kitchen like a mad woman while I was cooking.  The reason being is that I was trying to get everything DONE before my daughter started fussing and needed my attention.  I've since slowed down, but, of course, there are MANY times I'm still doing this SUPER FAST!  But, it helped me SO much!

4. TV: You may relate to this one...before becoming a mama I swore I wouldn't let C watch TV that much (or at all).  Well, the television became my new best friend.  Especially when I was cooking our meals.  I had to let go and let her watch more TV than I ever thought I would (and yes, there are MANY more things I could talk about that I now let my daughter do that I said I wouldn't do before becoming a mama - blog posts coming on this!).  When she watched TV, I was able to make our meals in a calmer environment (something I NEEDED!).  I knew where she was and I didn't have to worry about her getting into anything and getting hurt while I was focused on cooking.  So, yes, she watched and still watches TV. :)

5.  Early Bedtime For Mama: At the beginning, I was staying up late after C went to bed so I could just BE with myself.  I'd catch up on reading blogs, emails, Facebook and anything else that had me feeling connected to the outside adult world.  Well, those nights that I stayed up super late left me tired and even more exhausted, which meant for tougher days while taking care of C.  Deep down I knew I needed to go to bed when she did. I finally started taking a soothing, candle-lit bath as soon as C went down for the night and when I was done I went straight to bed.

Yes, it was HARD doing this because I wanted to do so many more of MY things.  But, I saw how much better I was at being a mama to C and how much better I felt the next day so it was worth it in my book.  I was more relaxed and could handle the stressful parts of the day with more ease. When I was overtired, my patience was nowhere to be found and I snapped more easily and I was wanting to pull my hair out and I was shedding more tears than ever.

Also, I'd wake up earlier, before C was up, and I take my shower and get ready for the day.  It was SO nice having these quiet mornings to myself before the day started.  And, I ALWAYS feel SO.MUCH.BETTER when I shower before the day starts as a busy mama!  HUGE difference from when I don't shower and fix myself up.  Before, I was doing this during her nap time and it left me feeling oh-so-sleepy.  But, of course, you gotta get your shower in when you can.  ;)

6.  Daily Outside Nature Walks: I had debated back and forth on whether or not to join a gym, which you can read about here.  I thought, yes, I could get some ME time, but at the same time, I wasn't ready to leave C in the daycare. I finally said NO to it and started taking walks around the neighborhood every morning with C and our dog.  I can't even explain how nourishing this was for me.  C was loving it too and she was SO content.  The neighborhood was quiet and being out in the sunshine uplifted me.

I didn't walk FAST...just at a pace that felt oh-so-good to me and had me smiling from within.  I realized that this was perfect for us and it didn't leave me feeling even more depleted - when I did fast-paced cardio on my treadmill I'd feel even more exhausted than when I started.  I realized it was because I was on my feet 24/7 taking care of my daughter.  So if I went to the gym, I'd wouldn't be doing my body good by adding more movement to my day. My body was craving this slow nourishment to balance out all the things I was doing as a busy mama.

7.  MORE Water Please:  I began writing posts on how I needed more water in my life because I used to be glued to my water bottle before becoming a mama.  I began to feel more sluggish because I was lacking water, so during this time, I made sure I was getting more hydration in my busy mama life.  I'm also a big hot lemon water drinker, so I made a point to make this throughout the day.  It reminded to stop and take a breather and to sit still for a moment while my daughter was content for a little bit.  I also made sure my water bottle was ready for me as soon as I woke up in the morning, too.  Doing this, helped me feel more energized than ever before!  So if you're feeling sluggish while chasing around your kiddo (s), try adding more water to your day.  It'll help!!

8.  Ask For Help: This one was super hard for me during this time.  I even wrote a blog post about it here. I never hired a sitter until after D came back home and if I could back in time and do it all over again, I would have hired a sitter. I didn't SEE how important this is back then, and now I see HOW amazing it is to have help, even if it's just for 2 hours.  My main reason for NOT asking for help is because I had to hire someone I didn't know.  I was wishing we had family or close friends around so I didn't have to go through a stranger.  But, because of our lifestyle, I now know that this is VERY important for me to do.  Since I finally broke down and hired help, I now know what I'm looking for in a sitter/moms helper.  So, yeah, I could kick myself for not doing this sooner.

9. Mindless-Creative Activity:  During the last 2 weeks of my single mommy time, I came across doodling and my mentor, Whitney Ferre.  I took her course and I fell in love, which, if you've read my story, you probably already know this.  I signed up to become a Certified Creatively Fit Coach because doodling and doodle painting changed my entire, stressful, life.  It didn't take much of my time, so I was able to soak into mindless-creative nourishment when C was napping.  Because of this, my business and my outlook on life changed (especially as a military spouse!) changed for the better.  I owe it all to my husband leaving me for those 10 weeks because it helped me become an even better mama and helped me align with who I really am - a person who is passionate about using creativity to destress.  So good things came from all of us! :)

10. Let GO and Just BE Mommy: When kiddos come into your life and you become a parent, life definitely changes.  Changes that include very limited ME time.  These changes can be SO hard because we're SO used to doing things we always want to do, but now those things have to come only at certain times and not exactly when we want them to.  I realized that at this time in my life, it's my time to just BE a mama and I really have to take care of myself...which meant, make sure my daughter is feed, bathed and happy and make sure I'm all of those things too, but well rested.

I let go of blogging...I let go of mommy groups...mommy + me classes...and staying up late to do ALL things I want to do.  And, instead, added in slower days and earlier bed times.  I also let go of making huge meals from scratch and even started eating more packaged mac-n-cheese (yes, something I never thought I'd do).  I had to do these things so I could be a better mama.  I know my day will come again when I can do more and more of MY things.  But, because I was alone, I really saw how important it is to take care of ME by resting and not trying to do all things I did before having my daughter.

I definitely learned a lot about myself and I became more connected to my passion of slowing down.  And, in the end, when D came back, we were all, so, so happy!!  So now, when he leaves me, it doesn't seem so bad because I've figured out exactly what I need to do so the days go a little more smoothly.

Those 10 weeks were the hardest 10 weeks of my life.  And I have a new found respect for all parents out there or anyone who takes care of kids all on their own (especially the military spouses who deal with deployments).

I still have many days that I want to pull my hair out and days that I'm crying because I just want to run and have some alone time that lasts longer than an hour so.  But, I also know, that when those days come, it's a sign that I'm doing too much.

So I try to listen, and allow myself to take it easy.  The days of cooking home cooked meals more often...my daughter not needing my attention 24/7...having LOTS of time to work on things that I absolutely love...will all come back to me again.  Because right now, in this stage of my mama life, it's more important that I rest when I can so I can BE the best mama I can be.

Does your spouse ever leave you for a few days for work?  Deal with spouse deployments or long trainings?  Would love to hear your tips and how you survive...share your comments below! :) 

Until next time...

{life is colorful}

Photo Shoot {Liv + Justice} | Slidell, LA Child + Family Photographer

{Photo of the Day} Daddy's Shoes