Author Topic: What makes life easier?  (Read 743 times)

Dragonfly

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What makes life easier?
« on: March 27, 2017, 07:41:33 PM »
All you widowed parents, what have you done to make life easier now since becoming a single parent? I am looking for ideas.  I am considering moving closer to work so I can spend less time driving around and more time doing things I and my son enjoy. It's a huge change but think it will be for the better. Would also be closer to more people I know (through work) vs being not near anyone to specific.  Just looking for other ideas too.
:o)

Missing AC

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 10:22:38 PM »
I don't know how far you live from your work but if it will lessen your commute time and allow more time for your son than go for it.  I used to not worry about staying at work late because I knew dad was home but now, I leave on time, maybe a little earlier, so I can get home to my son.  My job also allows me to work from home once a week or more if needed.   I definitely think it helps to be close to friends and family.  I've learned to ask for help and say thank you A LOT.  I think asking for help is key to making life easier on us. 

Captains wife

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 06:12:32 AM »
Moving closer to work sounds like a great idea. I'm an hour and a half and it's tough....It's a financial drain but I hired help - help taking care of my son as well as the house plus some cooking. I have help for taking care of the lawn and garden. I try to cook in larger batches so I can easily have dinner (for my son and I)  plus take lunches for several days. Do auto pay for a number of bills. Have a huge variety of books, a leap pad and toys for my young son so he can keep himself busy while I need to work at home or do house stuff - like pay bills etc. I bought new clothes that make it easy to dress for work - I'm up and out the door in 20 min in the am. I pack in appointments on work at home days or off work days and while my son is at school. I use train time to shop online or do finances. I bought tons of pjs and spare underwear and socks for my son in case I don't get to the laundry for a few days. I tried to simplify my schedule and his schedule so we aren't rushing around everywhere. Hope that helps...this isn't easy.

Julester3

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 11:37:50 AM »
I had to think about it. I go to work earlier so I am get home earlier. I cut my hair so I get ready faster in the morning. I added dog cleaning service to my yard service, I pay all the bills online, I menu plan even better and make lunches ahead of time so you grab and go. I schedule cleaning and chores so the kids can help make it easier and we can work together. Also I make sure we aren't overtaxing ourselves so it's not like we're working ourselves exhausted all the time. We keep the house pretty neat and pick up before bed. I have the kids pick out their clothes the night before and their bags are packed for school so the mornings are efficient. When I have days off, I too pack as much in as I can so I can avoid taking days off or altering my schedule drastically.

TooSoon

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2017, 08:18:43 AM »
I read your post yesterday while eating lunch at my desk in my office and it really struck a chord with me.  I also have one child and a career.  It has been a work in progress for a long time.  At the beginning, it was a non-stop whirlwind and in the end I couldn't hold it together and had to get serious about making it work better and fast.  The most important and hardest learned lesson for me has been:  sometimes it is ok just to pay someone else to take care of it.  For multiple reasons, I had trouble with this because I have always been the thriftiest person but I had to pay someone to mow my lawn and plow my snow.  I really had no choice in that.  I should have hired someone to clean for me but I didn't.  It would have taken a huge burden of guilt off my chest those first few years and maybe I would have felt better about our condition if I wasn't constantly feeling terrible that we were living in a perpetually filthy, disorganized disaster area. 

I put my daughter in an after-school program at her school even though we didn't need it every day.  There, she got her homework done, got to play outside with other kids (she's an only) and made some new friends outside of her class.  That was in 2nd grade; she's now in 4th and has some after school activities but still goes on the days she doesn't.  Not having the homework battle has been huge for us and she gets that social and outdoor exercise time that I feel is so important for her. 

I also taught her how to prepare about half a dozen meals for herself.  Nothing gourmet, granted, but on nights when I just couldn't cope, she happily makes herself a burrito or a pizza. 

Buying in bulk also helps - stamps, toilet paper, bars of soap, etc.  Shortly after my husband died, I started buying two of everything instead of one because shopping alone was (and remains) one of my biggest phobias.  It defies reason, but I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago.  Shopping also takes up a lot of time, so I've tried to reduce the time I spend shopping by always having the staples on hand so that I'm usually shopping only for bread and produce and the occasional treat. 

Simplify.  Clear out your clutter when you feel up to it.  Simplifying things by liquidating things we no longer use or need has been super-helpful for us.  For me, it helped me to focus, something that was and remains, to some degree, a problem.  Now I know where everything is, and it is easier to maintain order (though my daughter does have free reign over our spare bedroom to conduct her art making endeavors, the rest of the house is pretty orderly, almost empty even).  In a similar vein, I canceled tons of subscriptions to things I realized I could live without - with each cancelation, one less thing to think about. 

I had what I can only describe as a nervous breakdown around 10 months after my husband died.  It was the result of my trying to maintain life at the pace we lived it as a couple sharing duties and the realization that that was not going to work.  At that point I had to decide if I was going to fall apart trying to keep things up as a solo parent the way we lived as co-parents or figure out a new way to do it.  I chose to figure out a new way to do it, and I sat down and made lists of things that had to be done and also lists of things that really did not need to be stressors in our lives (does it matter right now if she brushes her hair in the morning or is that a battle we don't have to fight? do I need to say yes to this "service" task at work or can I say no for once?  Is it ok to put my foot down on an 8 am meeting (I teach college) and say, I can't be there until 9 because my child has only one parent and someone needs to put her on the school bus?  (the answer to that is yes but the amount of heartache it took to get me to the point of accepting that was pretty ridiculous looking back).  I asked myself what was most important for my child and made that our priority; it was and will always be the guiding principle.  I made some choices that were hard at the time - sometimes excruciating - but that paid huge dividends in the end.  For me the hard part was recalibrating priorities, retraining myself to look at time differently after having lived a certain way along a certain pattern as a family for a long time.  It still catches me off guard sometimes.  But for me, that was the key, retraining my brain to understand time, prioritizing and planning in a whole different way.

Trust your instincts.  You and your son are going to be better than ok! 


Trying

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2017, 09:43:13 AM »
Lots of great ideas here!  For me it was letting go of a lot the volunteer stuff with school, church and sports and prioritizing the things I did say yes to for the ones my kids would be directly impacted by like class trips or working the book fair on the day their class was coming.  Behind the scenes things like baking or soliciting donations took time away from kids so they are now a no.

I have someone mow my lawn, plow snow and clean the house twice a month.  In the early months I would do grocery delivery service for bulk stuff so I could just pop into a small grocery store for produce and last minute dinner items and avoid the large supermarket whenever posssible (a major source of anxiety for me).  Crock pot meals and easy to throw together meals were a necessity.  My middle son was at a catholic high school and I paid to have his shirts laundered and pressed to cut down on me ironing or arguing with him about ironing.

while my youngest was still in elementary school he went to the after school program and homework and outside playtime were taken care of and they also let me drop him at the before school program once or twice a month when I had an early meeting at work. 

I have now changed my career and opened my own small massage therapy practice so I set my own schedule.

cutting myself slack was the biggest challenge, admitting I just can't do it all took me a long time. 

You will forever be my always.

TooSoon

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2017, 10:05:45 AM »
Lots of great ideas here!  For me it was letting go of a lot the volunteer stuff with school, church and sports and prioritizing the things I did say yes to for the ones my kids would be directly impacted by like class trips or working the book fair on the day their class was coming.  Behind the scenes things like baking or soliciting donations took time away from kids so they are now a no.

I have someone mow my lawn, plow snow and clean the house twice a month.  In the early months I would do grocery delivery service for bulk stuff so I could just pop into a small grocery store for produce and last minute dinner items and avoid the large supermarket whenever posssible (a major source of anxiety for me).  Crock pot meals and easy to throw together meals were a necessity.  My middle son was at a catholic high school and I paid to have his shirts laundered and pressed to cut down on me ironing or arguing with him about ironing.

while my youngest was still in elementary school he went to the after school program and homework and outside playtime were taken care of and they also let me drop him at the before school program once or twice a month when I had an early meeting at work. 

I have now changed my career and opened my own small massage therapy practice so I set my own schedule.

cutting myself slack was the biggest challenge, admitting I just can't do it all took me a long time.

Even though our stories and realities are different, everything you say rings true.  This has been my experience, too. 

Sugarbell

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2017, 01:05:17 PM »
My life has simplified greatly since we moved.

Smaller house/smaller yard..less than a mile to schools/ballfields (and I sub teach so work is very close I can run home for lunch) I miss living "out with space" but right now is the season for convenience.

My kids are very involved...and living close to the school/gym/ballfields had made my life so much easier.

Also my kids have to do chores that do save me time...they do their own laundry, take out trash, etc..simple cooking. I have 3 kids ages 9-14...No way could we do everything we are doing without the logistical changes that we made this year.
B.W.H. 9/24/2007

MrsDan

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2017, 01:44:53 PM »
Amazon. I order a lot of things online. Dog food? Yeah, I'm not schlepping those big bags anymore.

I moved to for a better commute and it made a huge difference. It was a positive thing for a lot of reasons.

Crockpot with a timer.

I've hired people for repairs, but Youtube is helpful with some things.


 
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And nothing can take that away.

MR

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2017, 02:44:47 PM »
Great ideas.. I have been doing some of it like decided to call cleaning lady once every 2-3 weeks instead of trying to do the same. Cooking was never my strength but learned some basic stuff like never put too much salt spices and chilly as adding them later is not an issue but can't remove them. Share with chores with daughter. Bought some clothes (pj,socks and undergarments) as didn't have enough laundry every week so can't go for 2 weeks or more. Also biggest thing was stop comparing my work to my wife work as that was killing she was able to keep house too clean and I just can't with my schedule.

bumbleb

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2017, 01:28:29 PM »
What a helpful thread.
I have a lawn service and hire out for a majority of house maintenance/repairs.
The kids (14 and 10) have chores & can use the toaster oven like pros. They are responsible for getting ready for school the night before, setting their alarm and their own breakfast. Each kid does only 1 activity during the school year- Girl is in marching band (late summer thru fall) and Boy plays basketball (winter/spring).
I go into work early so I can leave at 5pm. My commute averages 40 minutes depending on traffic and construction.
My menu is very basic and we eat out once a week.
I do the best I can with house cleaning, but I don't stress about it anymore. I am thinking about hiring a service to do a once a month.
I schedule all our doctors and dentist office visits on one day and just take the day off.

This life after your death is a strange journey. M 1973-2009

Dragonfly

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Re: What makes life easier?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2017, 08:58:35 PM »
Thank you so so much everyone. I love reading your ideas and now don't feel so alone in this.  I think minimizing my commute will be a big advantage also for being close to my son's school and activities. It would be different of I had a lot of family around but I don't so trying to figure what would be best for just us. You are all amazing and thankbyou for your input!