Before moving out of my ex-husband’s house, the anticipation of having my own space and living apart was partly exciting and partly terrifying.
I was nervous about finding an affordable apartment and had no idea how I was going to afford all the necessities to fill it. But I was thrilled finally to be starting a life in a separate residence after 18 months of being separated-but-not-living-separately.
I spent a lot of time researching and visiting potential apartment complexes, scouring Goodwill stores and watching Craigslist and Freecycle to secure furniture and small appliances and other necessities for a new apartment.
I’m grateful that my new place was the least expensive apartment complex but the one I most wanted to move into. It’s a wonderful bargain for the square footage, the woods behind the apartment gives me more of a sense of privacy, and I love the layout. I’m also proud of myself for being able to get the furniture and supplies I needed as frugally as I did.
The first aspect of moving out and establishing my own apartment that scared me was my notorious lack of ability to stick to a budget. I’ve continued to rely heavily on Goodwill, Dollar Tree, and WalMart to stick within my budget, and determine what are true necessities. I stick to my shopping list, too.
I cook full meals when the kids are staying with me, but conserve food while they aren’t. I’ll eat more simply and try not to use many resources. I don’t do unnecessary driving. I make sure my bills are automatically drafted from my account. And if I’m going to eat out or get coffee, I use my part-time job earnings for that.
The second aspect that scared me was how the children were going to react to and adjust to living in two separate homes. Our custody agreement is joint, and their dad has them every Monday and Tuesday, I have them every Wednesday and Thursday, and then we alternate weekends.
So far, none of the four kids have cried for their father when they’re with me and they don’t behave as if they resent the changes. Only one of my children has had sleep issues (at both homes) as she’s adjusting, and their teachers have reported no unusual behavior or school performance issues.
They all brought their favorite clothes, toys, artwork, books, and stuffed animals to my apartment. They speak to their friends more in terms of living with me and “staying” with their dad. So far, the transition has been far more smooth than I could have imagined.
Something that really surprised me was how much I enjoy having time away from the kids when they’re with their dad.
I’ve been a stay at home (and often homeschooling) mom for 12 years. I’ve rarely held part-time jobs, and before our separation started last year, I had rarely been out for a girls’ night or ever taken a long weekend away by myself.
It was often grueling and exhausting, and I spent a lot of time in survival mode. There was no real balance or time for me to do any self-care to feel like I had much to give to my kids. As a result of that constant presence and interaction as their caregiver, I had expected to miss them terribly when they are with their dad.
That’s not actually the case. I get much better sleep, I schedule my part-time job hours and my writing/virtual assistant work for when the kids are with their dad, too, so I keep myself busy. I have just enough time to actually watch the tv shows I record, and continue to unpack and organize. I’m rarely bored or lonely.
I’m enjoying having emotional and mental space to work on healing my heart, reading, praying more often, not isolating myself from friends and the community, having conversations that probe deeply and help me regain true perspective without being concerned that my kids are going to overhear.
I know I need to have the time to regroup and refresh so that I can be a hands on, attentive mom when they’re with me. I struggled so much with not losing my temper or modeling severe depression symptoms in front of them, constantly having a wall up and pushing aside my big feelings because I couldn’t allow the kids to see those extremes. Now I have that time to deal with stuff. I feel much better about my parenting now that I’m on my own.
I’m very satisfied and content with the transition so far. I’m doing better than ever, and the kids seem very happy when they’re with me. They speak their minds, and confide in me about how they feel. They speak frankly about “at daddy’s house, I have this..” or “when we’re with daddy, he does this differently than you..” without seeming angry or resentful about the fact that we don’t live together anymore.
The older two are in counseling, and with their healthy modeling of emotions, I’m hoping they can help their younger siblings feel safe and have a positive outlook on the “new normal”. The kids are much closer than they’ve ever been, and that warms my heart and gives me great hope for our future as a family.
When you have moved to a new home/apartment, what have you been most nervous about and most surprised by?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our recently-divorced, highly-resourceful, single-mom of four, Frelle, in North Carolina.
The photograph used in this post is credited to Mishelle Lane, a personal friend of the author.
You continue to inspire me, Frelle! I’m so happy that things are working out so well for you, and am very excited for you in the new chapter in your life. I know you will continue to thrive and do well.
thank you so much for coming to read and comment, and for the support you’ve given me, Alison!
I like your attitude about all this, and hearing about all your newly found free time has me a tad jealous. 🙂
Thank you 🙂 And the newfound free time is weird and will take some getting used to.
Frelle, I enjoyed reading this because you took us on your journey, and we can see how you chose to look at things in a positive light. I loved the realization that you described — “I struggled so much with not losing my temper or modeling severe depression symptoms in front of them, constantly having a wall up and pushing aside my big feelings because I couldn’t allow the kids to see those extremes. Now I have that time to deal with stuff. I feel much better about my parenting now that I’m on my own.”
What a bonus you discovered. It sounds like you found time to let yourself be yourself and that makes you a better mother when with your kids. I think mothers in every situation can learn from this — it’s so important to take time out for ourselves and just be “us”. I think staying true to ourselves along our motherhood journey is such an important piece!
Jeanelle is going to love this post…I’ve got to go tweet it to her now!
Thank you so much for your sweet words of validation and encouragement, and I hope what I’ve said makes a difference to others in similar situations.
I enjoyed this post. You are truly inspiring with an awesome attitude. All the best to you on this journey as a single mom.
I am so proud of you. I know how scary it is to suddenly live “on your own” (you know, with kids part time) but you have kept such a wonderful attitude. Kudos to you Frelle!
Thank you for letting me know you’re proud of me, it means a lot to me every time someone says it. *HUG*
Cheers to new beginnings, Frelle! Your grounded, positive outllook will benefit everyone involved…you, your kids, even your ex. Way to stay strong and look ahead!
As for your question, we moved our whole family to a new house last year, and I was most worried about selling the home we were leaving. But we had a plan and got incredibly lucky. It sold quickly. I think because my husband and I were so excited and positive, the kids followed our lead. The change of scenery has been the best thing for us.
Thank you for your sweet words.. and I think the change of scenery is a great thing for my kids as well. and Ive been excited as well, and can see that they’ve been positively affected by that.
Beautiful, thoughtful post. This January will mark five years since my mom, my brothers and I moved out on my dad – I moved into my own apartment (a few months before getting married) and my brothers stayed with my mom (though my twin is now also in his own home). In my mom, I’ve seen some of the positive changes that you mention here. She was also a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom (though for closer to 20 years) and worked hard during those years. Our move was tough and there’s still a split in my family over it – Dad hardly talks to me and only talks to mom through his lawyer. I’d like to say that because my brothers and I were older that the split was easier, but I’d almost say that your children probably have it easier – children adapt quickly. And don’t get drawn into the fight as much when they are younger. Blessings to you as you continue to adjust to your new life. 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting, and for your insight and validation in telling me some about your own family story!
What a brave post about something that happens to many of us but we often don’t talk about. I went through this process many years ago before I met my husband and moving out on my own with a 3 year old was scary stuff.
Your children can only benefit from a balanced and amicable split and a mum who now has some ‘me’ time. Good luck with the new chapter in your life
Thank you so much for reading and commenting! what encouraging words!
Absolutely EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight. Thank you so much for sharing. xoxo
You’re welcome. *HUG*
It is amazing what little things about a big change surprise you for the better. I’m so happy that you’re rediscovering your happy.
Thank you so much, and for all the support and encouragement you’ve been giving me!
Frelle, you are amazing and inspiring! I so happy and proud of you. From one single mom to another, I can so relate to your post but the difference is I had to moved back in with my parents. Not easy but that will have to do for now. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post. Sending you big hugs!
Thank you for your sweet words, especially as a fellow single mom. Grateful we can share this season in our lives, even though it’s hard. *HUG*
It’s amazing how, when we have a partner we don’t have any me time, yet, as a single mom you have some alone time, which gives you the time you need to become a more balanced, happier person and mother. Enjoy every moment of it. Good luck with this new stage of life!