8 Ways Not Feel Lonely When Your Child is Visiting Your Ex
After a three-year relationship ended, I was left without a ring and with a baby. At first, I felt ashamed. Was I an embarrassment to my family, Christians who’d each found love, got married and then pushed a baby carriage? Then, I realized having a baby before having a husband didn’t make me believe in God any less. Although I didn’t plan to be a single mom, I sure didn’t plan not to! The journey through co-parenting has made me smart, strong and secure. But in the beginning, I had a hard time splitting parenting time with my daughter’s dad. I would call up friends and tell them home much I missed my baby. I sat at home and wonder what my daughter was doing without me. As the months went on and the visitation periods prolonged, I found out how to enjoy my “me” time without my mini-me.
Here are 8 ways to help you feel okay when your baby is visiting your ex.
1. Discover a New Hobby
I began a blog, Diary of a First Time Mom. Writing was an outlet to vent, to laugh and to share. Now, I’m looking into taking a photography class. Your kid-free time is a perfect time to pick up a paintbrush, a tennis racket or knitting needles. Follow your dreams and pursue your passions without worrying about finding a babysitter.
2. Have a Grown-Up Sleepover
Unless he has long-term potential—and I mean marry me or move in with me, the man I date won’t be sleeping over. I don’t want my daughter to wake up in the middle of the night to a stranger, or worse yet, a strange acrobatic act unfolding in mommy’s bed. An upside to co-parenting is being able to host a grown-up sleepover when your little one is away for the weekend. And you won’t wake up to fix a bottle or change a diaper!
3. Do Nothing
Last weekend, my friend Jason called and asked me why I wasn’t on a date when I didn’t have my daughter. We talked about meeting up for dinner or drinks, but I declined. I would rather do nothing. It’s not often that I can control the remote control and watch a show that doesn’t star Dora, Barney or Caillou. Typically, I check off to-do lists throughout the day, but at the end of that night, I didn’t accomplish anything over the previous 12 hours. I did nothing!
4. Take a Nap
I never followed the advice “sleep when your baby sleeps.” I did laundry and did dishes. I organized closets and scrubbed floors. When I returned to work, I exhausted myself with a long commute to my job and to my childcare provider. When my daughter is visiting her dad, I can turn off the alarm and take a nap in the middle of the day. I can also stay up past my bedtime watching something that is rated R, and then sleep in until noon on a Saturday if I wish. (Although last Saturday, my apartment complex’s fire alarm went off! Did my neighbor not check my custody calendar before burning breakfast?)
5. Make New Friends/Reconnect With Old Friends
Sometimes you split more than custody in a divorce or break up. You split your friends. Instead of counting the hours until your child comes home, hang out with old friends or make a new one. You can check out a Meetup group in your area, volunteer or take a road trip to visit your old college roommate. When my daughter’s gone, I schedule time with friends and even go out on dates. I used to think I was too old to make new friends, but then I met Deesha Phillywaw, another co-parent. She actually wrote the book on it—Co-parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce. We’ve shared laughs and swapped war stories and helped each other realize co-parenting isn’t as horrible as one might think.
6. Plan a Staycation
Recently, my sorority sister came to visit me in Pittsburgh. We rode the Duquesne Incline, a must-see city attraction. The inclined railroad scales the side of Mt. Washington and takes visitors to see a spectacular view. I forgot about the attraction. But her family’s trip reminded me that the city is filled with adventures I can embark when my daughter is away from home. Visit a museum, take a hike, rent a canoe or enjoy a concert. If you can splurge a few extra bucks, check into a hotel and have someone else cook and clean for a change.
7. Start a DIY Project
I’ve assembled furniture, hung pictures and redecorated my living room. I’m not a handyman, at all! Add completing a project without a toddler stealing screws and hiding parts is a major accomplishment in my house. Contact home improvement stores in your area and inquire about DIY workshops. Or, get a green thumb and plant a garden. When you child returns, you can continue the project together.
8. Get a Holistic Makeover
After investing in a new haircut or a manicure, make time to make over your inside. Try a new cleanse, get a physical or make an acupuncture appointment. I read books and even talked to a therapist, which is a big reason why I’m not angry or bitter about the breakup. It has allowed to focus on the most important thing of all—my daughter.
How do you stay busy while your child is visiting your ex?