When a woman goes through a divorce it is easy to get trapped in looking backwards thinking “Where did I go wrong?” especially if her husband left her for another woman. She may think her marriage could have been saved if she were prettier, thinner, smarter, more affectionate, more sexually active, a better mom, etc. etc. Her self-esteem plummets and now she is thrust into a world of being single again. This can be a tumultuous time for her especially if she has children to tend to. Most mothers’ natural instinct is to put their children first and this is where many newly divorced women fall through the cracks. The truth of the matter is, if you don’t take care of yourself both physically and emotionally, you will be of minimal help to your children. They are looking to you to cope with divorce in a healthy way. If you are depressed, bitter, frustrated and let yourself go downhill physically or emotionally, this will only make them feel ‘alone’ going through this difficult time.
Taking care of yourself requires effort as does any other journey in life. You will have to make the decision to move forward and not live in hindsight. If you are unhappy with yourself, make changes. If you are not happy with your appearance, then do something different. A new hairstyle or make-over is a great quick change that can give you an instant ‘pick-me-up”. If you need to lose weight then start a new healthier eating style. This will not only benefit you but your children who also need to be eating healthy during this stressful time. Change up your menus and make it fun. Take a nutrition class or join a weight loss program where there are other people with the same weight loss goals as yourself.
I know moms don’t have a lot of spare time but you should always be able to fit in some time for exercise. This will not only help you physically but emotionally. Get those endorphins pumping! If you have the time and money join a gym or hire a personal trainer. If funds are tight, then start a ‘walking’ group with friends or take your dog out for long walks and bring the kids. This could be a great time of exercise as well bonding . At the very least, in the tightest of schedules, do something – stretching exercises at home or pop an exercise DVD in the player to do and workout. There are many times I blast my favorite music and just dance around while I am cleaning house! Whatever you do, don’t commit to an exercise that you don’t enjoy. You will not follow through and set yourself up for failure.
Being a newly single mom you will have to make time for yourself. It’s amazing the hoops we will jump through to carry out play-dates for our kids but will not do the same for ourselves. Yes, it will be hard to fit this into your busy schedules but again, this takes effort. You will need adult companionship to stay balanced. You cannot be ‘mommy’ all the time. Go to a movie with a friend or meet up with a relative for coffee. Make sure that you keep up your social life, because you will need it. Don’t isolate yourself because of business. The truth is, we are all busy! You have to make an effort to get out there and maintain or establish some healthy adult relationships in your life and I don’t mean just family. If it’s too soon after your divorce and you are just not up to socializing then still take that time for yourself. Go get a pedicure, see a movie, shop for a new outfit, just get away and have time for yourself away from your children. You’ve made a huge transition in your life from being a married woman to being a single woman (sometimes not even by your own choice). Discover who you are during this chapter of your life and embrace it. This does not make you a bad mom it makes you a mom that knows she has to stay healthy and balanced for her own sake and the sake of her children.
It might also be a good idea to pursue your education. As a single mom, you may or may not have support from dad but it is always good to be able to depend on yourself if at some point dad can’t or won’t come through financially. It is hard to live with your lifestyle being dependent on someone else and thus out of your control. Finish that degree that you may have started years ago or start to pursue the education for that career that has always been in the back of your mind. My sister was divorced with two kids and took night classes to finish her BA. She finished and accomplished her goal of becoming a children’s librarian. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way.
The point is, you MUST take time for yourself. We women are nurturers and caretakers yet we often forget to bestow this nurturing and care-taking upon ourselves. When you start doing this you will not only be happier and healthier but in turn be a well balanced mom for your children.
Take a look at AboutTheChildren.org for more.