How to Feel Less Lonely When You Don't Have the Kids
As a parent, you’re used to having a house full of animated chatter. So, it can hit you with some intense feelings when you first begin to navigate co-parenting terrain. There will be times when the kids aren’t home because they’re with your ex. This can be a difficult time for you, as their absence can leave you feeling hollow and incomplete.
It’s normal to feel lonely, but it’s possible to feel good
It’s natural to feel a stab of loneliness at first. But it’s also possible – and quite common – for divorced parents to learn to embrace and appreciate this time to themselves. You might fill the time with hobbies, new interests, or a focus on your physical or emotional well-being. Or, you might just use the time to relax and chill.
Let’s take a look at some ways single parents can feel good about their free time without the kids.
Use your alone time to plan something special with your child
Use your extra time to plan something for when the kids come back and you’re back in the parenting saddle. With everything that’s been going on, you and the kids might relish some downtime to just hang out together.
- Plan a family movie night. You could go all out and create tickets and a concession stand. Watching a movie becomes an “event” when kiddos have to produce a ticket and can choose popcorn and a drink in the living room “lobby.”
- Create a “welcome home” treasure hunt. Coming home to a fun adventure is a great way to arrive. Draw a treasure map, or write clues that lead them to small surprises you’ve hidden around the house.
- Start a co-parenting scrapbook. Begin it by filling in a couple of pages of their time with you with photos or other items. Then, let the kids take it to their other home and fill a few pages there. This is not only great for them; it also enables some collaborative co-parenting. And, you get to feel like a part of their lives when they’re not home.
- Make dinner special. Take them out to their favorite pizza place, or prepare a welcome home meal for a DIY home restaurant experience. If you’re feeling super crafty, set the table for your “fine dining” experience. Create a menu, and dress up as the wait staff so they can place their order.
- Let them create a customized story from their time with your ex. Help them spin a narrative with themselves as the main characters where they develop – and even fictionalize – the storyline of the adventures they had when they were gone. If you’re somewhat artistic, you might create illustrations to go along with their story and even create a book.
Even when you’re apart, by implementing some of these ideas, you can look forward to your fun reunions. You might decide to make them an ongoing part of their return.
Find new interests (or rediscover old ones)
These gaps in your parenting responsibilities can open doors to new passions or allow you to revisit some old ones.
- Take a class. Maybe you’d like to throw some pottery, take up photography, or learn to play the violin or a new language. You might look at the offerings available at your local community center, or you might check out some of the virtual classes on educational websites like Udemy or Coursera. This is a great time to expand your horizons and learn something new.
- Embrace those household chores. Perhaps, in the past, you lamented over your lack of time to get things done around the house. Now may be the time to dive in. You might decorate, start a garden, build a bookshelf, or paint a nightstand. While you do this, turn on some fun Spotify tunes, or delve into some interesting new podcasts. Or, just enjoy the silence.
- Catch up on reading, movies, and music. You’ve been immersed in your children’s lives and interests for a long time. You still are, of course, but you now have time to pursue some entertainment of your own.
- Focus on self-improvement. During all the overwhelm of the divorce, you may have put off focusing on your health. Now, you have the time to get serious about your nutrition. Join a gym. Or just promise yourself a brisk walk every morning with friends. Without the kids there, you no longer have an excuse to put yourself on the backburner.
Nurture your mental health. See our article, How to Cope with Depression after Divorce.
Make the most of your together time
Remember that it’s quality over quantity. While you may not have your kids full-time as a co-parent, you can make the most of the time you have together by getting creative and making it special.
Furthermore, taking advantage of the time you have to yourself will make you a better person, and that can translate to a more fulfilled parent. The time you spend with your kids as a more whole and well-rounded individual can only enhance your relationship and the moments you share.
Right now, being away from the kids might feel like the hardest part of your divorce. Don’t give up. After working with parental divorces for years, we can tell you with confidence that while this new life may have some hiccups, it can also open a new world for you and your kids to explore.
Creating a co-parenting plan that considers your children's lives and best interests as well as your own physical and emotional well-being is critical. At Hello Divorce, we’ve dedicated ourselves and our products and services to the support of anyone who is trying to navigate life through and beyond divorce. To learn more, schedule a free 15-minute call.