Being a healthy divorced mom

When my daughter was 18 months old I made the difficult decision to leave my husband.

I moved to a new city and started over.  We had equal access, but she spent 60% of her time with me or sometimes closer to 80%, as my ex-husband traveled for business.  It was a busy, hectic and stressful time, but also a wonderful time.

Content Mother and daughter blowing bubbles

I remember feeling like I was on a treadmill managing a full-time job, a townhouse, night school and motherhood. My number one priority was my daughter and I was really tired when the weekends came.

To manage through these times I begged, borrowed and paid for help.  My parents, who were out of town, would often come to help me and I would hire a babysitter when I needed to do errands or work later than normal. I remember one time my daughter was suddenly ill and I needed to go to the drug store.  I could not take her with me and I could not leave her, so I called a neighbour and asked her to watch her for “just 15 minutes” as I zipped out to the store.

All this hustle and bustle meant I needed to look after myself, so in turn, I could look after my daughter.  Since I was a health care professional, I had the knowledge needed. So I practiced what I preached and modelled to my daughter many healthy lifestyle behaviours.

I aimed for balance between the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of myself. This is what I did:

  1. I maintained a healthy weight via my exercise and eating habits. I was physically active, every day, somehow, whether it was biking, hiking or going to the gym. It helped to relieve mental and physical stress. I ate well too, making sure I prepared meals from scratch, as often as possible, and worked at meeting the Canada’s Food Guide
  2. I didn’t smoke tobacco or use non-prescribed drugs. I watched the amount of alcohol I was consuming.
  3. I had social time and interaction with friends, especially on the weekends when I did not have my daughter. I also made time for me, by relaxing at home crafting, renting movies or reading a good book.
  4. If I was stressed, I talked to a professional to keep my emotional health intact. I also shared situations with friends, so they could help me out too.
  5. I tried get my seven hours of sleep a night and slept in when I could.
  6. I saw my family doctor and dentist regularly to assess my physical health and deal with any issues.
  7. I kept doing what was important to me, such as going to church regularly.

But most of all, I allowed myself to be human, as I could only do so much in a day and on my own.

Today, as my daughter turns 16, I am happy to say I still do all these things and now she does too!  In fact, she asks me to go to the gym with her or to pick up more fresh fruit or baby carrots for her lunch.  So far, so good, now to just get through the rest of adolescence unscathed!

Do you have any more tips to share? We’d love to hear them:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000

About this guest blogger:

Jennifer Jenkins-Scott: I have been a health professional for 34 years, but more importantly a mother for the last 16. When I am not ‘on-the-job’, I can be found at Mohawk College working towards my certificate in Interior Decorating, on the bike trails, in the gym, skiing, crafting, entertaining or at home either reading a good book or binge watching Netflix.

This entry was posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, stress and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Being a healthy divorced mom

  1. Deanna Stirling says:

    Great blog! As a divorced Mom myself, it’s so important to look after ourselves so that we can be the best parent we can be for our children. Thank you for writing this. There aren’t a lot of resources targeted to divorced/single parents.

    • Jennifer Jenkins-Scott says:

      Thanks Deanna! I’m glad you enjoyed my story and will work at providing more submissions from the divorced mom perspective.

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