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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When you can’t cut out (their worries), add in (what they need for felt safety). 

Rather than focusing on what we need them to do, shift the focus to what we can do. Make the environment as safe as we can (add in another safe adult), and have so much certainty that they can do this, they can borrow what they need and wrap it around themselves again and again and again.

You already do this when they have to do things that don’t want to do, but which you know are important - brushing their teeth, going to the dentist, not eating ice cream for dinner (too often). The key for living bravely is to also recognise that so many of the things that drive anxiety are equally important. 

We also need to ask, as their important adults - ‘Is this scary safe or scary dangerous?’ ‘Do I move them forward into this or protect them from it?’♥️
The need to feel connected to, and seen by our people is instinctive. 

THE FIX: Add in micro-connections to let them feel you seeing them, loving them, connecting with them, enjoying them:

‘I love being your mum.’
‘I love being your dad.’
‘I missed you today.’
‘I can’t wait to hang out with you at bedtime 
and read a story together.’

Or smiling at them, playing with them, 
sharing something funny, noticing something about them, ‘remembering when...’ with them.

And our adult loves need the same, as we need the same from them.♥️
Our kids need the same thing we do: to feel safe and loved through all feelings not just the convenient ones.

Gosh it’s hard though. I’ve never lost my (thinking) mind as much at anyone as I have with the people I love most in this world.

We’re human, not bricks, and even though we’re parents we still feel it big sometimes. Sometimes these feelings make it hard for us to be the people we want to be for our loves.

That’s the truth of it, and that’s the duality of being a parent. We love and we fury. We want to connect and we want to pull away. We hold it all together and sometimes we can’t.

None of this is about perfection. It’s about being human, and the best humans feel, argue, fight, reconnect, own our ‘stuff’. We keep working on growing and being more of our everythingness, just in kinder ways.

If we get it wrong, which we will, that’s okay. What’s important is the repair - as soon as we can and not selling it as their fault. Our reaction is our responsibility, not theirs. This might sound like, ‘I’m really sorry I yelled. You didn’t deserve that. I really want to hear what you have to say. Can we try again?’

Of course, none of this means ‘no boundaries’. What it means is adding warmth to the boundary. One without the other will feel unsafe - for them, us, and others.

This means making sure that we’ve claimed responsibility- the ability to respond to what’s happening. It doesn’t mean blame. It means recognising that when a young person is feeling big, they don’t have the resources to lead out of the turmoil, so we have to lead them out - not push them out.

Rather than focusing on what we want them to do, shift the focus to what we can do to bring felt safety and calm back into the space.

THEN when they’re calm talk about what’s happened, the repair, and what to do next time.

Discipline means ‘to teach’, not to punish. They will learn best when they are connected to you. Maybe there is a need for consequences, but these must be about repair and restoration. Punishment is pointless, harmful, and outdated.

Hold the boundary, add warmth. Don’t ask them to do WHEN they can’t do. Wait until they can hear you and work on what’s needed. There’s no hurry.♥️
Recently I chatted with @rebeccasparrow72 , host of ABC Listen’s brilliant podcast, ‘Parental as Anything: Teens’. I loved this chat. Bec asked all the questions that let us crack the topic right open. Our conversation was in response to a listener’s question, that I expect will be familiar to many parents in many homes. Have a listen here:
https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/parental-as-anything-with-maggie-dent/how-can-i-help-my-anxious-teen/104035562
School refusal is escalating. Something that’s troubling me is the use of the word ‘school can’t’ when talking about kids.

Stay with me.

First, let’s be clear: school refusal isn’t about won’t. It’s about can’t. Not truly can’t but felt can’t. It’s about anxiety making school feel so unsafe for a child, avoidance feels like the only option.

Here’s the problem. Language is powerful, and when we put ‘can’t’ onto a child, it tells a deficiency story about the child.

But school refusal isn’t about the child.
It’s about the environment not feeling safe enough right now, or separation from a parent not feeling safe enough right now. The ‘can’t’ isn’t about the child. It’s about an environment that can’t support the need for felt safety - yet.

This can happen in even the most loving, supportive schools. All schools are full of anxiety triggers. They need to be because anything new, hard, brave, growthful will always come with potential threats - maybe failure, judgement, shame. Even if these are so unlikely, the brain won’t care. All it will read is ‘danger’.

Of course sometimes school actually isn’t safe. Maybe peer relationships are tricky. Maybe teachers are shouty and still using outdated ways to manage behaviour. Maybe sensory needs aren’t met.

Most of the time though it’s not actual threat but ’felt threat’.

The deficiency isn’t with the child. It’s with the environment. The question isn’t how do we get rid of their anxiety. It’s how do we make the environment feel safe enough so they can feel supported enough to handle the discomfort of their anxiety.

We can throw all the resources we want at the child, but:

- if the parent doesn’t believe the child is safe enough, cared for enough, capable enough; or

- if school can’t provide enough felt safety for the child (sensory accommodations, safe peer relationships, at least one predictable adult the child feels safe with and cared for by),

that child will not feel safe enough.

To help kids feel safe and happy at school, we have to recognise that it’s the environment that needs changing, not the child. This doesn’t mean the environment is wrong. It’s about making it feel more right for this child.♥️

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