Strategies for getting through Cupid’s big day
For the divorced Solo Mom, Valentine’s Day can be a day that you’d rather forget. The mushy cards at every turn; suggestions that the purchase of candy, flowers, or jewelry are essential expressions of love; and the hard-to-get restaurant reservations can elicit emotions ranging from mild annoyance to moderate sadness to deep loneliness.
Tears can come quickly when faced with the reality of a quiet evening alone instead of a romantic dinner gazing into the eyes of your beloved. With no expectation of a special gift, the holiday can fill a Solo Mom with dread instead of anticipation. It is easy to feel embittered when it seems like everyone else around you (including possibly your ex) is in love and you start to feel that your “turn” will never come.
Every day, including Valentine’s Day, it is important to remember that love is worth celebrating whether you are partnered or not. Love can take many forms other than romantic love, and, in fact, the foundation of any love we give to others, our children, our parents, or our partners is a love of oneself.
We Solo Moms have so much on our plates and so many balls we are juggling that it’s easy to put ourselves on the back burner. We forget that taking care of ourselves—loving ourselves—is vital for our well-being and the well-being of those around us. Instead of letting yourself sink into self-pity or sadness, why not turn Valentine’s Day on its head and combat those negative feelings with positivity? What is more positive than spending a little time practicing self-love?
1. Be kind. Pay attention to your inner dialogue and the things you say to yourself. ESME’s Kathleen Laccinole, in her article “Guy Winch Wants You to Practice Emotional Hygiene,” encourages Solo Moms to treat themselves with the same compassion as they would a dear friend. When that inner voice is saying something negative, stop and ask yourself if you would “talk” to your girlfriend that way. If the answer is no, then don’t say it to yourself. Instead of thinking, I’ll always be alone or No one will ever love me or Will I ever find love again? try reminding yourself that you are loved and reassure yourself that the right person will come along at the right time.
2. Treat yourself. Do something nice for yourself—anything. Pamper yourself with a pedicure or massage. Take a bubble bath. Visit your favorite coffee shop armed with a good book as company. Go for a long walk. Treat yourself to dinner and a movie. Buy yourself a fancy cupcake or a piece of chocolate. You deserve to enjoy good things. You deserve to spend time participating in activities that are life-giving and create peace in your life. Stop waiting for someone to do it for you—do it for yourself.
3. Create a new tradition with your kids. Valentine’s Day does not have to be all about romance. Take this opportunity to celebrate with your children. Make pizza at home. Decorate cupcakes or watch a family movie. Clinical psychologist and divorce coach Deanna Conklin-Danao in her article, “Coping with the First Valentine’s Day after a Divorce,” suggests that focusing on your kids is an excellent way to combat the loneliness that can creep in around this time of year.
4. Phone a friend. Laccinole cites the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people as a key way to practice what Winch calls “emotional hygiene.” Enlist the support of a good friend and plan an evening or afternoon out. There is nothing like some good girlfriend time to remind you of how wonderful you are.
5. Work out! Exercise is a proven mood lifter and is essential to maintaining one’s physical health. It is an excellent way to demonstrate self-care. You don’t have to join a gym or go to a class—start with a walk outside. Go for a run. Climb the stairs in your house. Rent an exercise DVD. It doesn’t matter what you do—just move your body and you will feel better.
6. Make someone else’s day. Another great way to elevate your own mood and to feel encouraged about your situation is to do something for someone else. Make and send Valentine’s Day cards for our servicemen and women who are away from their families. Plan and host a Valentine’s Day party at a women and children’s shelter. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Serve meals to the homeless. Bake cookies, and take them to your local firehouse or police station. Send thank-you letters to your children’s teachers.
Holidays can be difficult for Solo Moms, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Creating new traditions on these special days is an excellent strategy for combating the blues and building a wonderful new life for you and your children. This Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to start the tradition of celebrating your love for yourself. Filling up your “love tank” will give you plenty of love to pour out on those around you.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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