A few years ago, my husband decided to move away from our family and live in Germany for 6 months by himself. Don't worry -- we didn’t have marital problems or separate. It was for work reasons, and only for four days a week. We lived in Brussels at that time. And there was a promotion awaiting my husband in Frankfurt. The girls were very happy in their school in Belgium and we didn’t want to move in January. So we decided to have a long-distance relationship for half a year.
I hated it. The timing wasn’t good. I was working for the European Commission during the week and on weekends I was taking a course to become a life coach.
My supportive girlfriends told me how fun it is to have the bedroom to oneself. “You don’t have to compromise about what show you watch in the evening.” But I hate sleeping alone and we usually agree on our entertainment in the evening. Also, with a lot of studying and peer coaching needed for my course, I didn’t even have time to watch TV.
I dreaded the prospect of waking up ill and being unable to take my daughters to school. Or having to take one child to the emergency room while the other was alone at home. There were no grandparents or other relatives we could count on. Single parents: you have my utmost respect for doing it all on your own. Luckily, we had our amazing nanny who helped me get through the toughest times. And occasionally another babysitter in emergencies.
Probably the hardest moments were mornings, when my girls and I had to get ready for school and work. I’m not a morning person and dealing with two grumpy kids at 7AM is a lot of work.
Three things that helped me get through those 6 months smoothly and without too much trauma were:
1. Preparing as much as possible the night before. That involved making sure we had breakfast planned and sometimes partly prepared in advance. My girls had to wear uniforms to school so we needed to have the right number of white socks handy. PE, swimming and school bags needed to be packed. Morning snack had to be chosen and ready on the kitchen counter.
2. Morning routine. The most important element was waking up on time to take a shower and be somewhat ready when the girls got up. Another key part was turning the house-alarm off downstairs before the kids crawled into the kitchen. Otherwise, a whole neighborhood would hate us for at least a month.
3. Telling a joke. Do you know what the most important thing in comedy is? Timing! Ask my husband if I’m good at telling jokes and he will politely smile😉. My daughters will laugh out loud. Still, that didn’t stop me from printing a list of jokes and attempting to make my kids laugh in the morning. I would tell one or two while they were eating breakfast or getting dressed. It didn’t matter if the jokes were good or not. I probably killed them all anyway. But it made us all giggle and the atmosphere got less tense. And suddenly the morning was a little bit more manageable.
If you ask me what I remember from those 6 months, the answer is not a lot. It was so intense that somehow it went by very quickly. And I definitely didn’t get better at telling jokes. But I was a semi-single mom for half a year and the whole family survived😁😁😁.
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