A Week Of Reluctant Freedom


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?

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  1. Laura (@_g3) wrote:

    Good god. I can’t even imagine the potential bliss. Oscar doesn’t spend any time with his father and I know too well that feeling of near suffocation, often. Yet when he is away for a night, I feel very odd. I would spend much of it horizontal. Preferably a bit drunk. Enjoy mama!

    Posted 1.3.14 Reply
    • Milena wrote:

      Lucky you! Lj never spends a day with his day let alone a week. But here are some suggestions of what i would do:
      1. Deep clean the house and get rid of any toys, clutter and clothes that are not needed.
      2. Go shopping and upgrade my wardrobe
      3. Spent two days in a spa with a friend and get all available treatments done.
      4. Go out with friends.
      5. Have a day trip to Paris alone to reflect on things (eurostar is great for that)
      6. Lat but not least, miss Lj dearly.
      Have fun alice! !!

      Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      For some reason I never sleep very well when the kids are away. Because they’re usually there protecting me from the big bad burglars perhaps?!
      I am going to take your advice on the horizontleness and you just know I’ll be half-cut most of the time… x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  2. Kirsty wrote:

    A week is a long time to suddenly go from full-on parenting to being on your own. I would book a reflexology session, have a pedicure, have a bath and sit in the peace and quiet with a hot cup of tea and read a good book. I know you will miss the kids but enjoy all the same

    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I’m definitely going to enjoy the silence… it’ll be a struggle not to turn the tv on to fill it but I’m going to try!

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  3. Marianne wrote:

    Hi Alice,
    When I had a spa day before Christmas I was really looking forward to it, but like you found it difficult to switch off and relax. I think I would have needed a few days of relaxation to properly get there! Perhaps the pressure to relax meant I didn’t feel it? Who knows?!

    As for your week alone rather than filling your diary with things, see how you feel in that moment and just do it.. Its impossible to be spontaneous as a mother and focus on what *you* want. Listen to what your heart wants to do and it will be much more satisfying than doing stuff for the sake of doing it or because its on your to do list.

    Let us know how you get on!

    Can you tell us more about the book?

    Marianne x

    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Yes, I think maybe relaxation is such a strange state for us these days that we find it very hard to get there… maybe we need not just a spa day but a spa week?! I’d be worried about being bored though!

      I’m going to take your advice and try to be spontaneous though it goes against everything I believe in ;)

      There’s more about the book here… https://morethantoast.org/2013/04/on-finally-writing-that-book/ x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  4. Kel wrote:

    I would snuggle up on a toy free sofa and catch up on all the films I haven’t watched… Followed by lazy walks into town when you stroll through shops without having to drag a 2 year old and “drive” a pushchair… I would also try to stay awake until at least 11 o’clock, it’s been a while :-) most importantly just keep occupied because it will go really quickly x I hope you’ll switch off and just enjoy it x

    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Thanks Kel! I might even push the boat out and go and see a film at the cinema ;) x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  5. Becky wrote:

    Oh god, I’m so jealous!

    Pub, pub, sleep, sleep, lie in, crack on with book, pub, sleep, pub, pub, pub, shopping, sleep, lie in, stay in bed all morning, pub lunch, then bit of gym and a trip to the spa to get over it all, maybe throw in some house bits and bobs and I would try out my new bread maker in peace (the instructions appear taxing to read in the presence of small children).

    As you can see I’m such a well-rounded person :-D


    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Hahah, I’m enjoying your brand of well-roundedness! I promise there’ll be plenty of pubs in my week!

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  6. Josie wrote:

    I’ve got a week child free too when Antonio takes Amelie to Madeira and I am equal parts excited and dreading it. I have a feeling once the initial shock wears off the sheer bliss at being 100% selfish for a change will be rather wonderful!

    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I’m the same – I keep having moments of excitement and moments of ‘WTF AM I GOING TO DO?!’. I am looking forward to the selfishness for sure, but I’m going to miss them like nothing else x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  7. Alice I am incredibly jealous, even when I have an hour on my own I get so excited. I think I would go to the gym lots, snuggle on the sofa with a glass of wine and read my book/magazine/other blogs. See friends and have at least one tipsy night out, clean the house from top to bottom (its hard with kids), get my hair done, and go shopping for clothes on my own. Oh the envy! x

    Posted 1.4.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Aghhh, you know, the thing that winds me up the most about my lovely lovely children is the fact I always feel like I’m tidying and cleaning up the wake of destruction they create. The one thing I’m looking forward to the most next week is having a beautifully clean and tidy house :) x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  8. What a week of mixed feelings – yay, time for me/miss my little ones. The top of my list would be reading books and visiting museums – two things that are hard to do properly with little ones around. Enjoy and I hope it’s not too hard at the same time (meant in a non-sarcastic way!).

    Posted 1.5.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      That’s exactly what it is, mixed feelings. Great idea to read a book: can’t remember the last time I did that!

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  9. Oh wow…enjoy every minute!
    I’d have the girls over for a good old movie night, with wine, treats and giggles! Spend the time relaxing, reading, writing, sorting and planning for the new year ahead!

    Katie x

    Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  10. Camilla wrote:

    The thing about children is that they make you live in the moment. As you know, there is no pause button. You can’t plan to do something they like now in a few months or years time with them as they are growing and will have moved on by then. But this week is like a pause button. You will spend the week reminiscing about the past with friends or planning for the future like tidying the house up or filling the freezer for their return. Don’t! It will be back to square one once they’re back anyway! I like the thought of the massage. Employ mindfulness. Instead of reflecting and thinking of others – before you know it both children, your mum, your friends etc will all be in the room with you – just focus on the heat, the stones and the blissful ness of it all! Sit, chill, chat to a stranger, be out after 7pm, sleep, read, write, miss them and enjoy! You deserve it . Keep up the blogging. Is always my go to read x

    Posted 1.5.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      This is brilliant advice, thank you Camilla. I think mindfulness is something that is missing in our lives as they are so hectic these days, it’s something I try really hard to employ day-to-day. It’s so easy to look ahead to our deadlines and appointments rather than living in the moment. Thank you for reminding me of this and making me think! x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  11. Esther H wrote:

    My Mum looked after my 1 year old for two days a few weeks ago and it felt so weird. It’s the first time anyone has had him for more than a couple of hours. I felt so naked and like life had just slowed down by a million. After about half a day I got into it and found all sorts of fun things to do!…I almost felt bad for trying to cram everything into such a small window. I got my nails and hair done, went Christmas shopping, cleaned the car out and did loads of boring admin house things…all unplanned and just happened. It was so good! My Mum sent me pics of how much fun they were having so I felt completely at ease. I loved it!!! x

    Posted 1.5.14 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      That’s a great way of describing it… you feel naked. Sounds like you had a great time though! I cleaned out my car when I had a day to myself before Christmas too ;) x

      Posted 1.5.14 Reply
  12. What would I do? I would arrange lunch every day with a different friend, I’d go for a run every morning, and possibly an exercise class in the afternoon (well, unless I’d had wine at lunch). I’d do lots of jobs that need doing, but that are hard when kids are around (like going to B&Q to buy lights or painting the front door step). I’d arrange wine-fuelled nights out with friends and then just sleep on their sofa at the end of the night – just because I could!
    Hope your don’t miss your little people too much & enjoy yourself x

    Posted 1.6.14 Reply
  13. Honest Mum wrote:

    Oh I can understand it will be a real transition but try and take advantage of it-I think I would go to the cinema EVERY SINGLE DAY (how I miss that place), museums, theatre, read, read then read some more, see lots of friends and a bit like those early days of motherhood x1 where you crave a schedule and purpose, arrange to see different friends for meals, cocktails, lunches to keep you busy (as others have said!)

    I think it’s time to enjoy alone time too-it’s only the last few years I really enjoy my own company and I think that comes from always having so many family members and friends around but it’s a great skill almost to learn and you will LOVE it after a while!

    Also take this time to work on your book, develop new ideas, blog posts and simply have baths without toys sticking into your body parts. Go enjoy ‘you time’ girl, you deserve it!

    Posted 1.7.14 Reply