One of the things I have become very aware of as a part-time single Mum is how hard it is to remember to carve time out to have fun with my son. I am just not as good at it as his Dad is. They will sit for hours and chat about nonsense, playing games, making things, discussing Star Wars on a scene by scene basis, playing cards, debating the musical merits of AC/DC versus the Beatles, physics, sport, geography, maths, Lego, Fortnite… whatever really. I am acutely aware that I need to make more time and save up enough daily patience to engage in this often tedious chat now that there is no male role model in the house to take it on.
It’s especially hard when there are still all the other jobs to do and roles to be fulfilled. Chef, chauffeur, housekeeper, homework supervisor, disciplinarian, nurse, model maker, life coach, confidante, feminist role model, joke teller/listener, DIY expert, cultural attaché … whatever needs doing I’m trying to do it without a.) losing my temper, b.) being a martyr or c.) going stir crazy. This is no easy task and I fail at it daily.
It is all too easy to get caught up in everyday chores and forget to make time to actually chat and hang out with this little person who is growing up fast and needs a bit more support now that he is down 50% of the parental equation. I’ve had to try and adapt my parenting style to the new situation whilst keeping things stable and familiar and it’s made me really sit up and think about how hard that must have also been for my own Mum for all those years when my Dad was away working. Its also increased my admiration for all my friends who are out there raising amazing children on their own for one reason or another. If that’s you, then whatever stage your children are at, all power to you. You are doing an awesome job. Nobody can be all things to all people and no family is perfect, but on balance I think it’s actually been a really positive thing in our relationship and has made me stop and think about the roles we all play in the family dynamic.
I’ve never liked being cast as ‘boring’ Mum who makes the rules and stops the fun, but always grudgingly accepted that somebody ‘had’ to do it. At the moment, I can be both the joy killer and the fun maker, but I have to consciously find ways to make sure that happens.
They are only small changes but they make a big difference. Stopping what I am doing in the morning to sit down and have my cup of tea or breakfast with my son rather than eating on the run whilst packing the school lunch. Making an effort to try and be ready early enough a couple of times a week so that we can walk or cycle to school. Not having the phone at the table. Asking Alexa a daily question together. Going for an evening stroll now that the days are longer before bed instead of doing the ironing. Basically, just carving out a bit more time together where I am present and not just doing my ‘Mum’ jobs. It makes me feel a whole lot better and I hope it makes a positive difference to his life too.
One new thing that we also try to do is have a regular ‘date’ night, although I am not allowed to call it that! This means there is at least one evening a week (normally a Friday) where I do not cook and we do something fun together. Usually a meal out at a place we have both chosen, sometimes a trip to the cinema, a concert, an event or a fun activity that we will enjoy. If time, money or energy is short, then it might just be a ready meal, a game of Scrabble and a movie on Netflix. Whatever we choose, it has to be something that gets me out of the kitchen, and my self-made Mum box, and means that we spend some time together each week that is just for us. It’s something to look forward to at the end of another busy week when we both know Dad isn’t going to be there to get the weekend party started. It’s also a treat that makes the time between visits go more quickly and I’ve discovered it’s a mother/son relationship game changer.
We try new foods together, we laugh at stupid movies, we sing songs in the car and explore new places. It makes me wonder why I didn’t make it more of a priority before now. It’s a new stage in our family dynamic born out of less than perfect circumstance and a realisation that something big and important is missing in both our lives, but I have a feeling it has actually given me an opportunity to mend something I didn’t really realise needed fixing.
Our Top 5 ‘Date’ Nights so far in 2019:
- Fantoosh Nook – excellent local fish restaurant and our go to choice!
- Benihana – Teppanyaki drama to indulge our love of Japanese food
- Marvel Endgame – Big movie, big bucket of popcorn
- War Horse – we both loved the touring production of this amazing show
- Blue Planet 2 Live – inspiring live orchestral version of the series on the big screen