On Sunday I was trying to unsuccessfully fix the hoover while listening to the radio.  As the hoover continued to splutter, a life counsellor on the airwaves talked about the importance of doing an annual life audit.  This seemed to involve listing 10 key lessons you have learnt over the year.  So to keep myself from smashing the hoover into little pieces with a very large hammer, I tried to think of the annual lessons for me.

1) Become self reliant.  People talk about developing a range of family and friend resources who will help support you.  From my experience that support is either not available in great levels or not at the times you need them.

2) Old Career plans are scrapped.  As a couple we were able to fit the family around our careers now it’s fitting my career (whats left of it) around my family.

3) Live in the real world.  As a couple we would have big dreams, now the focus is just on trying to pay the bills and put food on the table.

4) Don’t take things for granted.  In the past a passing conversation would seem unimportant, now it’s a vital component of my often secluded lifestyle.

5) Occasionally the planets line up and you do get some free time.  Make use of it on yourself, everybody needs a bit of ‘me time’.  

6) In some of our of daily newspapers, single parent families are often portrayed as one of societies ills, somehow second rate. We are still a proper family, just a bit smaller now.

7) Lots of people have said this, but it’s so true.  Dealing with bereavement is awful, it can completely consume you, it can take you to some really dark places.  But its often forgotten that bereavement is really a sign of continued love for someone and that’s something to be cherished.

8) Bereavement and/or parenting is stressful. I quickly realised that I needed some form of release to keep me from going under.  Something which I would book in every day and stick to. For me it was fitness.  I try to get up a few minutes early each day and do some exercises.  Often it’s just doing some sit-ups and then a few minutes on the battered old exercise bike.  Unusually for me I’ve stuck to the regime, has it made me into an athlete – NO, but equally I’ve not cracked yet, so maybe it’s working.

9) I quickly discovered the key benefit of single parenting, you get to spend more time with your kid(s).

10) Never to retrain as a Hoover repair person.

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