I became a single parent to my two children almost four years ago. Now, I write about lone parenting and relationship breakdown.
10 Good Things About Single Parenthood
Becoming a single parent after separating from your partner usually seems like a negative. Indeed, there is no doubt that it can be a very difficult period in life. However, there are two sides to everything, and it's always better to adhere to the 'glass half full' motto than to view life as an uphill struggle. With that in mind, let us celebrate the many positives of becoming a single parent:
1. You Can Do It All YOUR Way
You can be as laid back as you choose. Basically, you get to prioritize everything on your own terms, and that means total freedom from having to please anyone else. It doesn't matter if you leave the dishes until the morning because you were preoccupied with something else, or if the living room looks like someone turned it upside down and shook it around—children don't care too much about mess (they'll be in bed), and there is no one else to moan.
You can live exactly the way you choose, and if that means arriving home late because something else was more fun and vegging out for the evening, so be it. There's always tomorrow. Your own well-being comes first. And sometimes our well-being is improved by doing exactly what we want to do when the moment strikes. Autonomy is a wonderful thing!
2. It's Easier to Be Spontaneous
When you are on your own, you can be really spontaneous. And being spontaneous is fun! You can get up without even an inkling of a plan and only the vast open space of 12 hours to fill, and, as soon as breakfast is over, have the car packed and be on your way to who-knows-where. No one will complain—well, the kids might, especially if they don't like being hurried or are addicted to Xbox - but kids are easily persuaded and they'll be on board in no time. Especially when they think they might actually enjoy themselves.
Disorganization and a total lack of planning are traits often frowned upon by partners and spouses. But you're on your own now and no one will nag you. You can get back home whenever you like and you can even stop en-route for food and eat it by the seaside as the sun sets (if you live near the beach, but you get the drift) knowing there won't be anyone wondering why there's no dinner planned when you finally get home. Freedom is bliss.
3. You Can Be as Self-Absorbed as You Like
In the evenings, when the kids are in bed, you can relax and not have to consider anyone else. Your time is your own - and that's a brilliant gift! You can watch really bad TV shows in undisturbed bliss without being berated. You can selfishly spend all night on the computer without so much as making someone else a cup of tea/coffee.
You can go to bed whatever time you like without disturbing anybody . . . and then read with the light on when you get there. You can lie diagonally across the bed because your side got too hot. The list goes on.
4. You Get to Choose Where to Go on Vacation
You, and only you, get to choose your travel destination - every single time! Yes, that's right - you can go to that place he always refused to visit because he didn't like the language, the weather, the food, or the time it takes to get there. You can go back to that place you've always wanted to visit again but never could because he didn't like visiting the same place twice. You're in the driving seat. The world is your oyster. Do it!
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5. You Can Have 'Proper' Evenings In
You can invite your girlfriends round and talk freely without anyone listening. Girl talk is the best, but having to censor it because your other half is in the next room is definitely not. You can laugh until you ache, spill all your secrets and listen to everyone else's, and even too much Prosecco won't catch you out.
6. The Future Belongs to YOU
Your view for the future needs no compromising. You are in charge of your own life. If you want to move to a rural farm in France and live off the land when the kids move out, you can. Why not? Life's too short to give up on those dreams that beat inside your own heart. There's no one to talk you out of it, no one else's wishes to consider, and no one to tell you it's an impractical, impossible dream and you can't speak French.
Life is for living, your way! (And if you meet someone else between now and then, make sure they're on board from the beginning . . . )
7. Some Things Are Cheaper
Even though you might have taken a financial hit when you become a single parent, some things are cheaper. Days out, for example - other grown-ups have to pay adult fares and admission fees, they don't eat off the kid's menu, bigger families need bigger hotel rooms, transport costs add up, and so on. Yes, your bank account might take a bit of a dive now you're on your own, but so should your leisure costs.
8. There's Less to Annoy You
Admit it—there were habits that really got on your nerves. Like, really, really ticked you off. Trying to list them here would be presumptuous; everyone has their own little gripes, from snoring to leaving stuff everywhere, to not loading the dishwasher, to loading it all wrong, to not feeding cat or starting to prepare dinner when you're held up in a really hot traffic queue—the list is endless.
And you don't have to put up with it anymore. Now, you are practically living in a sanctuary of tranquility—and if you're not, you can only blame yourself.
9. You Can Drive YOUR Way
There is no one to nag you about your driving (which, just to clarify, is perfectly adequate). You can be hesitant when you need to be, take the route you want to take, get lost without a full-scale argument erupting and even enjoy the scenic route that takes half-an-hour longer but allows you to drive stress-free through glorious landscapes of green hills and fields, and let the kids litter the car with crumbs with no one to frown upon it.
What's more, you can become completely absorbed in the music of your choice as you hit the road, with no one telling you how awful it is. Driving—a necessary event that used to ignite full-scale marriage breakdown—is now a positive delight (well, maybe that's a bit strong, particularly when the kids are tearing each other's hair out on the backseat, but you get the picture).
10. There Is No Resentment Over Chores
There is no one to resent for not pulling their weight. You won't have to squeeze by, vacuum in hand and teeth gritted, whilst waiting for the cooker to bleep and ignoring the mewing, hungry cat while he sits in THAT chair because 'work was really hard today'. Yes, there is only you now, so that effectively means you will have to do everything anyway (unless you can persuade the kids that working for a salary that is a quarter of the minimum wage is acceptable).
But that is not nearly as bad as biting your tongue as that familiar rage simmers away inside you and spoils any chance of spiritual harmony. Negative emotions aren't healthy.
Celebrate the Positives, and Celebrate Yourself!
As you can see, there are many positives for becoming a single parent. So get it together and don your best smile. Onwards and upwards! On your own, you can be the uncompromised version of 'you'—the real you!