The Best Things About Being Single on Valentine’s Day

If you’re single, Valentine’s Day can feel as though its sole purpose is to point out that you’re the only person on the planet not intimately tied to another human. Every other day you’re a happily independent, completely contented lady human – then February 14 shows up in your week like it lives there and you’re reminded that lovers of each other get their own day, but lovers of both sides of the bed (at once), Saturday night Sex and the City DVD marathons and not-being-with-someone-just-for-the-sake-of-it get nothing. 

Let’s not fall for it. Being alone on Valentine’s Day does have its perks. As you’re reading the list that follows and noticing the glass half empty turning into a glass half full, remind yourself that whatever the glass is – full/ empty/ wine/ water/ delicious chocolate coated snacks – it’s yours, all yours – and you don’t have to share it with anyone. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate being single this Valentine’s Day. Here are eight of them.

  1. The delirious joy of knowing you won’t be disappointed by the questionable quality of presents or the lack of. (Seriously – a vacuum cleaner? Yes. I know mine’s broken but for Valentine’s Day? Vacuum this. Pffft.)
  2. The giddy pleasure of not having a Valentine’s Day argument. On Valentine’s Day, expectations have a way of soaring to dizzying heights and from there the only direction is down. The potential for disappointment is enormous. It’s exhausting having to estimate the exact heaviness of the sigh to exhale as you’re lying upset and angry along your edge of the bed. Too much and it’s fake and clearly designed to manipulate. Not enough and it’s wasted – he just won’t hear it and there’s no chance of manipulation at all. It’s hard work pretending to be asleep, or upset, or is that asleep and not upset? See? It’s too much. Who needs it? Give me a family size meat lovers with extra everything and that Sex and the City box set any day. 
  3. The potential for new love. Nobody is suggesting you break that online dating website with your enthusiasm but someone out there is waiting to meet someone like you. Now, thanks to your vision and the fortunate stroke of serendipity, you’ll be available when he finds you. Should he meet your exacting standards, he’s a lucky lucky man. Yes. He is. 
  4. The money you save. Valentine’s Day is so expensive. Outfit, fancy knickers, present, cab fares, babysitters, food, drinks, all leading to the glistening finale of sitting crowded restaurant wondering how he could ever think you’d thrill over a vacuum cleaner and bumping elbows with the giddy young couple next to you who are discussing whether the $40 leak soup entree would do as a main for two. Save your money for something less painful. Maybe a full body wax. 
  5. The satisfaction of knowing – with perfect certainty – that you’re not with the wrong person. Being with the wrong person is infinitely worse than being with nobody at all. When you’re stuck in the wrong relationship, the potential for something better is stuck too. Well done for freeing yourself up for the relationship you deserve when it finds you. And get ready. It’s coming.
  6. Flowers. They have a life span. I love flowers. Love them. But when they’re given by someone special, or by someone who wants to be thought of that way, there’s always the problem of when to get rid of them. Too soon and you’re cutting across the sentimentality of it all, but leave it too long and they’re shedding bits and pieces like they own the place. No relationship. No flowers. No problem. 
  7. You’re saving the planet from packaging and paper that’s on its way to landfills and contributing to the slow, dusty demise of the planet. As for your wine bottles and pizza boxes? That’s different. Food and drink are necessities. And besides, everyone knows they’re recyclable. Here’s to you eco-warrior.
  8. You can relax during dinner without fear of being a massive disappointment. Get into that tv-dinner-for-one, safe and sound in the knowledge that should an allergic reaction unfold, you’re not disappointing anybody. If the worst happens, nobody is going to get in your way while you pack yourself with antihistamines and fall asleep on the couch. Go for it Sleeping Beauty. And for those on a date – best of luck and remember that if he really loves you, those puffy eyes won’t bother him at all.

Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s Day, enjoy it. Nobody deserves your loving more than you. 

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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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