As a single mom of a single child, I have two reasons to need some time on my own: to have time to focus on my own activities and to let my 4-year old have some guaranteed time playing with other people.
A simple swapping kids at a specific day with a friend works wonders. In Brazil, I do this all the time with a friend that lives close by and have a son the same age as Luísa.
I also have another single-mom friend that has a 10-year-old and doesn´t mind watching Luísa for me when I need. Luísa loves that boy too and it´s really positive for both of them to share some time together with a friend from a very different age.
I always wondered how it would be possible to organize the help in such a way that we could schedule a lot of mom-alone activities.
An example to follow
In Argentina, moms help each other in an intelligent way. It´s called “Jardin Ambulante” (Moving Kindergarten). Four moms (the number varies) get together and decide who will take care of all the kids for one afternoon (or morning) a week for a few hours. Each mom takes care of the four children for one day and gets three days off. This is such a simple, easily doable and great idea.
Another thing I found out that is huge is simply offering yourself first to take care of other children. When I see a mom that can be in need of some free time (all moms, in reality), I say when I´m available, and that I can happily take her child along with me and my daughter. The truth is that not many moms take the invitation, but they all feel like doing the same right away. The reciprocation rule at work.
It´s our hectic modern lifestyles that made us have so little time to share in a community style, but we can make the community rebirth with simple gathering actions like the Argentinean initiative.
Back in Brazil, we started a group of moms to go out once a week, without the children. It´s brilliant, it´s not even a late date. The married moms usually get their husbands to watch the single mom’s children as well. We all wait for the Wednesdays to come and we all go home recharged. When it started, we weren´t all that close friends, we just saw the need for us all to have fun without the children and this need united us. I really miss our Wednesdays together.
Luckily enough, I already have a couple of mom-friends I can count on to watch Luísa for me if I need here in Costa Rica as well. And I used my new local support system to go surfing one afternoon, a real need after two months of just watching the waves break from far awhttp://cutusabreak.org/travelearning-with-your-children/ay. Next time, I should be out at night and party party party (although it´s hard for me to be awake after 9 pm, I´ll work it out).
Cooking lunch for each other
One of my dreams just became true: not worrying about lunch every single day.
For three days a week, there are three kids staying for an extra hour in the kindergarten and having lunch there, Luísa is among them. So I organized with the other two moms that each day one of us sends lunch for the three of them. Sweet deal.
This not only frees us some time, it makes our children eat different food and spices than what they are used to on a weekly basis.
Strangely enough, we can go through a lot of time without much of a community life and it doesn´t make it any easy. Actively seeking for help and helping makes a very positive change in our lives.
If it is difficult for you to ask for help (it is for most of us), here´s 5 ways to do so.
How about you? How do you help and get helped by other parents? Is there any other simple idea that you practice and can share in the comments?