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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Learning from my daughter

Back at the end of February, we loaded the car and headed north, carrying our youngest's gear up to her new flat in Manchester. It felt like a bit of a rushed move due to her work commitments, and I don't think the enormity of it had sunk in with any of us.
March passed in a blur , by the beginning of April I decided things had to change though now, looking back on the month, I realise they didn't. I was so unprepared for this new empty nest phase, but it was only when reading my daughter's blog posts on the same subject that I understood how badly I was coping.
In a series of posts my daughter has been talking about this new phase of life from her perspective, the problems encountered and how she's starting to overcome them. It's nice to know she's starting to feel settled and learning how to cope with her new responsibilities BUT it highlighted the fact that I'm not!


As a long-term stay-at-home mum, my life has revolved around my daughters, with routines dictated by their needs - from afternoon naps, to school run, or taxiing to the station. When my elder daughter left home, I still had a small child to look after, so I didn't notice this emptiness. This time round, things are very different. What I've realised is that without anyone (ie my youngest daughter) checking up on how I'm living my life, I've dropped into some lazy habits. You'd think having a husband around would make a difference, but men don't notice that inch of dust building up in a corner, or the ever-growing ironing pile (or, at least, mine doesn't), and see ready meals and takeaways as just a convenience rather than a lack of enthusiasm for cooking.


So, I'm going to take some advice from my daughter. Her post about What Is and Isn't Self-care made me acknowledge that basically I'm just slobbing about. High and Low Level Adulting had me thinking that I'm going about things back to front, avoiding the basics but trying to do the clever stuff. I have no real NEED to get up and about in the mornings, so I frequently get up late and waste an hour or so on social media before doing anything. I spend a lot of time looking at holiday sites - AirBnB, Canopy and Stars, anything that includes the word 'glamping' - even though I know that realistically I can't take holidays this year because of my parents' health. My staycation days out, while fun and at times a necessary bit of relaxation, are just procrastination tactics. Basically I think I'm looking for distractions to fill the daughter-shaped hole in my life, but going about it the wrong way. From now on, there'll be no more leaving the housework till I'm expecting a visitor, I'll re-apply myself to book blogging (which I've shamefully let drift) and try to discover what I want to do with my life for the next twenty or so years ...

If anyone has any helpful ideas on how to get through these first few awkward months, please share them!

10 comments:

  1. Mary! Well done for writing this. There is nothing quite like that feeling and you do know that you are not alone here, don't you? This feeling comes to us all. Never more so than at times of change. When everyone goes off to do their thing and it's just us. You have so many passions and we are all in awe of you here at #tweensteensbeyond and often wished we had some of what you've got. I'm interested to read your daughters other posts too. A lot of this comes down to being accountable - particularly when there is no one cheering you on or even telling you you've done wrong. Just nothing. For the last three years whether I've been working or not, I've had an accountability partner. Someone who is also wanting to be with a like-minded soul that needs and wants to be held accountable for getting stuff done. This can be anything from work goals right through to the minutiae of getting a little job done. It is the latter that is quite often the hardest. I find it works very well and spurs me on. Is there anyone that you know that could be a mutual support?

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    1. That's a very interesting idea, Nicky. Thank you. I'm going to think who might be a suitable person to ally with, as it were. Meanwhile, I think that having committed my thoughts to paper (or at least the blog) I feel like I've taken the first step out of this rut. I know what I need to do;now I just need to do it!

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  2. I'm a little way behind you Mary as I still have two daughters living at home but I spotted this scenario in the distance for me some time ago and have started putting things in place to try to avert a total crisis when it eventually comes. I'm focusing on physical things for a start and now do either yoga or pilates every day and run (well actually it's jogging interspersed with some fast walking!) a couple of times a week. I have never done this in my life before and scoffed at people who did but now I'm a convert. Creativity is another great outlet, so I've been told, so perhaps you could experiment with that? Whatever you do, please keep blogging!! I love reading about what you are getting up to and you have always been an inspiration to me! I love the way that you are following your daughter's advice - I have always thought that education is a two way street and I too have learnt so much from my girls. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. It's a difficult life-phase to negotiate! I think I was more prepared for the big departure for uni, but part of the shock this time is definitely the speed with which things moved. Finding something creative to do is an excellent idea, Sharon. Thank you for pointing me in that direction. A lot of needlework/arty things I used to do have dropped by the wayside over the years so it could be time to take them up again. My running is equally lapsed, as I was doing it with my daughter's help, and, unless I can persuade her to come home for more weekends, it might stay that way!

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  3. Mary I think we all look forward to those days of freedom in inverted commas without our children but the reality is they give us structure and it is a scary thought to lose that scaffolding so to speak. I am guilty of that on a very large scale. I dream of those halcyon days but secretly I know it will be a shock. I miss my eldest and with my youngest at home for another 4 years I need to be honest with myself about how I will cope once she has gone. Getting back into writing and blogging was supposed to alleviate that process. I am not sure it is or will completely. Sometimes I find it takes me away from what matters most which is the joy of the time I have left with my family all at home. I had a blip last week which really made me reevaluate my life. I think we all go through these times. It's ok to go down but the challenge is in getting back up and I know from reading your posts that you can do that better than anyone. We are all here with our challenges and that is what makes us a great community in those beyond years. Sending you much love. #TweensTeensBeyond
    #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. Oh Jo, make the most of those four years! Though you might have the eldest back at home by then :) I definitely think being able to share thoughts and worries helps. Through toddler tantrums and waiting at the school gates, there were always other parents around to bounce ideas off. As children grow, we lose those casual friends, and a valuable peer group. Thank goodness for social media and #Tweensteensbeyond :)

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  4. Both of my boys are still home but I have thought about what I'm going to do when they are no longer living at home. I am still putting together my bucket list but one huge thing on my list is to travel. I know that's not something you can do right now though but maybe making a list of places you want to travel (if it is what you want to do) might be enough to get you excited again. I wish you the best of luck:) #TeensTweensBeyond

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    1. A bucket list is a very interesting idea, Michelle - and maybe I could check some of it off as part of my 60 things for 60 years :) After all, it doesn't have to be about travelling the world, there must to be things I've always wanted to do which can be done 'from home'. And if that fails, I can start a dream list of what I would do if I didn't have to worry about responsibilities, time and money. Thank you :)

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  5. Gosh, I probably have this to come, but so far I can't say, as I haven't hit that stage yet, myself, but thank you for sharing, as it is something a lot of us will face. I am off to read her blog now. It does sound like you have done a good job though, that shes doing so well out in the world herself! #tweensteensbeyond

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    1. The strange thing I'm finding is that she seems to be coping better than I am! I suppose that despite the added responsibilities she's got lots of new and exciting things going on, whereas I'm stuck in my same old routine. I must get out more :)

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