Learning from Being Lonely
You may know moms who are thankful to ship their children to their grandparents’ house or a friend’s house for the weekend. They can’t wait for some alone time—some much needed “me time” as they often say.
Maybe, you can’t relate.
“I have a hard time coping with the days after my son leaves to be with his father. We always have a lot of fun together, but then he goes to his dad’s house on the weekends—when I could finally give him my full attention. I find myself having a hard time focusing on anything or being motivated. I have all this time to myself, but I feel so lonely, and all I want to do is hang on the couch and waste the days.”
Many single moms experience separation blues when their children must leave to spend time with their other parent or with grandparents. While being separated from your children so that they can spend quality time with the other parent is necessary, it can also be challenging. Moms enjoy the predictability and sense of comfort that comes from taking care of your children.
It can also be hard to exchange the “he’s taking my baby away from me” mentality for “I’m so glad they can spend quality time together” thinking.
How do you handle missing your child when they’re at the other parent’s house?
THE LONELINESS STRUGGLE
Loneliness is burdened with associations of emptiness and the absence of social connection. The feeling of loneliness is unique to everyone. Moms can feel it, but often experience it in different ways.
Common symptoms of loneliness that affect mental health are withdrawal and depression. Moms who feel lonely describe the impacts of loneliness as disrupting their focus on work, withdrawing from other family members and friends, or neglecting their responsibilities outside of their duty as a mother.
After spending so much time and energy taking care of your kids, you’ve probably forgotten how to focus on your needs. There are a few practical steps you can take to avoid the walls closing in on you.
3 WAYS TO COMBAT LONELINESS
#1: PLAN AHEAD
Don’t wait until you’re waving good-bye to make plans to keep yourself busy while your child is away. Plan ahead of time to treat yourself to something special, so you have something to anticipate. While COVID-19 has restricted some of the things we would typically do, it is possible to get out of the house and do something.
- Go to dinner with a coworker
- Get mani/pedi’s with one of your girlfriends
- Take a day trip with your best friend
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit
- Read books and cross them off your reading bucket list
- Soak in the tub with candles and quiet music
- Get a massage
- Watch a movie you’ve wanted to see
- Go on a walk and use the time to listen to a podcast
- Stick to a workout regimen
- Catch up on sleep
#2: USE YOUR TIME PRODUCTIVELY
While you’re making plans for something special, go ahead and make a list of things you could do to use your time more productively. Setting goals is essential, and having a list of things to do will help you stay more focused. This is your chance to cook or take-out the “grown-up” foods your children refused to eat. If you don’t like eating alone, call a friend to share a meal with you. Until you adjust to the changes, surround yourself with other people.
- Start a Shepherd’s Village University course
- Do some meal prep for the week.
- Take up a new activity or sport
- Start a side hustle (like a blog or Etsy biz!)
- Pick up more shifts at work
- Try out a new hobby like painting or scrapbooking
- Spring clean or deep clean the house
- Get caught up on emails and texts
- Finish a project around the house
#3: DEPEND ON GOD
Everyone experiences loneliness at some time. No one likes to feel lonely, so our natural inclination is to run from it, avoid it, or deny it by filling our lives with a million distractions.
But God has a better way.
Solitude provides a necessary space for reflection with God. Since God is always with you, you are never truly alone. Loneliness can be a powerful teacher.
Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus withdrew into lonely places, and he prayed.”
Christ may not have been lonely, but He “withdrew into lonely places. His lonely places provided a place of hope for Him, and the loneliness you feel can create positive change in your life. Loneliness is God’s gift that drives us into relationships and enlarges our hearts to love. Without it, we would never value our children, get married, engage in friendships, or endure the numerous problems that are a natural part of intimacy.
Feeling lonely is temporary – it’s not a permanent state. Reaching out to your family and friends for support when you need it or spending time with your community are ways to cope with loneliness in a healthy way.
Take courage, Mama. If you are lonely today, We hope you are encouraged. Remember that God can use your emotional pain to complete you. He has not forgotten you. Our prayer for you is that the next time you are crushed by the weight of loneliness—whether it’s because you miss your child or miss your partner—that you can press into your loneliness and find God’s gift in it until it passes.
Have you experienced loneliness? We would love for you to join our Facebook group, It’s a Single Mom Thing, and share your tips for coping with loneliness with other single moms! It takes a village.
Also, please feel free to let us know how we can pray for you.