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I know my friends give me a lot of kudos for being a single parent, and yeah it can be hard work. The relentlessness of it all can really get to me at times (how long are these pre-school holidays?!), and if you throw in two concurrent illnesses that render you all housebound for a week and therefore full of cabin fever, well that’s a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.
But there is one fact of single parenting that people don’t often take into consideration when they’re feeling sorry for me. And that is the fact that every other weekend I get two whole days and two whole nights to myself. As in, the children go away for that time and I am left to my own devices, to leave the house on a whim if I want to, to go to the gym, to catch up on work, to do anything I like. It’s madness, liberating, and so unlike anything I’ve been used to as a full-time stay-at-home mother.
It’s usually just the ticket after two weeks of full-on work, kids and running the house. Last weekend I went to London for a lovely Friday night at Hoxley and Porter followed by a long Saturday gym session, a grocery shop and a lie-in. Two days and two nights seems to be the perfect amount of time to have a bit of fun and re-charge batteries ready for the next fortnight of full-on life.
But this coming Monday, for the first time ever, the children are leaving me for a whole week. A WHOLE WEEK. Their dad is taking advantage of a quiet January at work to come up here from Monday to Sunday, take the little ‘uns off my hands and spend some quality time with them. Let me reiterate, because I still can’t believe it, they won’t be with me for A WEEK. That means a week of no Weetabix cemented to the kitchen table, no wailing tantrums in Waitrose, no need to wake up pre-6am.
Aside from being absolutely terrified at the hole in my heart that is going to emerge in their absence I’m completely stumped in terms of how on earth I will fill my time. So far I have a hot stone massage booked, drinks with a local friend and drinks with London friends. I want to do a bit of work and write at least three chapters of my book. I have a couple of mystery stains on my rug that I want to get rid of and some dry cleaning to tend to: but what else can I be doing?
I had the thought of taking myself away to a lovely hotel for a night but as I appear to be physically unable to relax on my own I thought it might be a bit of a waste of money. Plus all the smooching in love couples would do my head in (sorry to all the smooching in love couples out there). I’m planning on getting to the gym a couple of times, trying a spinning and yoga class, but it looks like I could be in serious danger of going every single day out of boredom. I’ve spent so long with two little people permanently attached to me that when it comes to working out things to do alone, I’m completely stuck.
It feels like I’m going to be going from 100 mph to a snail’s pace in one week and though I’m looking forward to re-discovering what ‘me’ time is like again I’m also terrified of feeling so lonely without my (shouty, messy) babies that I will just take lots of naps and mope around the house. I need some perspective and some ideas; Internet, what would you do? How would you spend a whole week of alone time?