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Try these 39 things to do by yourself for a fuller life

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Encouraging words from Christie (who learned to ride a street motorcycle by herself):

“Identify one on this list that sounds a little scary and hard, and then chip away at it until you’ve conquered it. That is a goal anyone can achieve!”

This is a list I co-created with the wonderful members of our closed Facebook group Millionaire Single Moms:

Travel

“Travel somewhere where you don’t speak the language,” Cheryl says.

Learn all about house swapping and hiring a petsitter.

If you want to earn perks like airline miles and points you can redeem for cash or free hotel stays, check out TravelFreely's free app to get recommendations on rewards credit cards.

Roadtrip

Read my 7 tips for roadtrips for single moms from my many long trips with Helena and Lucas.

Hike

I've found myself feeling scared, alone on a trail (bears can smell your period, right?), but also exhilarated by the solidarity with nature, the danger of it (a little and only sometimes).

Camp

Especially if you're not experienced with it.

Go to the beach

Negotiate on and then buy a home (or car)

If you're ready, owning a house or condo can be a very scary, exciting, empowering and wise adult decision that you may have never thought you could do solo — even if you have a low income. More on low-income home loans, and grants for homes.

Orgasm

Says Cheryl: “Learn how your body works and what makes you have awesome fulfilling orgasms!” Related: Why dating is better as a single mom

Go to a sex-toy shop

Literally go in to a store and shop for a vibrator or other goodies — don't cheat by shopping online!

Open and own and fund a savings account — in your name alone

Learn more about how and why to save, or find a high-yield savings account now:

Open and fund an investment account

File your taxes

Courtney says: “I’m currently irritated in the process of learning this, and wish I had done it sooner.”

Write a will / estate plan

Whether or not you have kids, pets or a partner, a will and estate plan will be a kind gift to your decedents, even if you don't care what happens to your things and money after you die.

Buy life insurance

You know you need it, and buying it yourself for those who depend on you — or who you would like to benefit — reminds you how meaningful you are, just as you are.

Live alone in your own home

Not being alone a lot because your partner works a lot / travels extensively / is deployed. No – sign your own lease, put all bills in your own name, buy your own furniture. Lola shared: “My mom always said the one she regretted was never living alone. She went from her parents house to married life then kids. Living alone before I had kids was the best time I’ve ever had 😊.”

Fix a major appliance

Decorate your home, just as you like it

Whether you are moving on from divorce, or otherwise living alone, decorating your own home is a powerful experience.

Enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant

Says Kelsi: “For some reason, that was a big one for me. But now I love taking myself on movie and dinner dates. I have no problem being alone now but it took some work to get there.”

Go to a movie

Search “movies near me”

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Attend the theater

Free outdoor shows, expensive Broadway productions in your town, indy theater!

Go to a sporting event or a concert

“Start a fire (campfire or in your fireplace),” Jennifer says.

Go to a bar or club alone

“I was so intimidated but it was such an empowering feeling to be able to do it confidently!” says Jasmine.

Go dancing (salsa, swing, ballroom, whatever sounds fun to you)

“People go solo and it’s no big deal, you get to have fun and meet great people!” — Selena

Go on a date with yourself

Plan your perfect evening: dinner at a restaurant, hiking and picninic, or even Netflix and chill?

Intentionally carve out an evening to stay home alone and binge Netflix / Hulu / Amazon Prime, and savor every minute.

Work a power tool (and yes, that kind, too)

Here is a list of a few basic power drill and tool kit that every adult needs:

Change a tire

This quick and dirty video shows you how to change a tire by yourself:

Home improvement projects

Wallpaper a bedroom, replace a vanity, fix a kitchen cabinet, conquer the world.

Mow a lawn

Says Gina of the three things to do by yourself, above: “Not because any of these are fun but so you CAN!”

Spend a major holiday solo

Says Cameron: New Year’s Eve! I spent it alone last year, and it was the most wonderful, introspective and empowering experience to be alone on NYE and totally okay with it!”

Throw a dinner party

Just because! My roundup of grocery delivery and meal-planning services.

Basic car repairs and maintenance

Says Danyle: “Know how to check your oil/put more in if needed, check tire pressure, and know other basic things about cars so you’re not taken advantage of — and then make a man feel like an idiot when they tell you your cars needs some ridiculous thing and you can set them straight…feels so good!”

How to get a free car

Take out the trash cans to the street

Cynthia says: “I use to hate doing this. But now I feel so strong doing it without a man. Such a simple thing but so powerful for me.”

Spend several days alone — not visiting or speaking with anyone else

Learn more about affordable travel through sits like HomeExchange or TrustedHouseSitters.

My experience taking a solo vacation as a single mom

When, my kids are in Europe with their dad for weeks, I take advantage of the time alone. Everyone kept asking what special things I was going to do with all my free time. I had a long list of friends I hoped to see, work and home projects that had gone unattended to, and for the most part I can say I didn’t make a dent in any of that.

But I did fixate on getting away for a few days. Recently I’ve fantasized about a writer’s weekend. I envisioned myself in a cabin in the woods where I could escape city noise and filth and lavish in the gruesome loneliness that creative people know fuels great art.

But then that fantasy started to feel like garden-variety loneliness. After all, I spend much of my life writing, alone, and feeling lonely. Doing the same in a prettier location is no vacation!

Enter my recent lover. We started planning a weekend at an inn upstate New York. At the last minute he sprung a fever and took to hibernation, and I considered canceling the getaway all together. But I just could not squander the precious kid-free time away. So at 4 p.m. Friday I booked an AirBnB property – a funky cabin in the woods upstate New York – tossed my hiking boots, swim suit and a going-out dress (you never know) in my overnight bag. Grabbed some croissants at my corner bakery and fruit at the weird Pakistani bodega that sells more or less nothing you would ever need but has fantastic melons and avocados — and I was outta there. 

Less than two hours later I pulled up to the cabin, secluded from the road and just big enough for one or two people — and it was all mine for the weekend. I was greeted by my friendly host who invited me to join him for dinner — pasta made with swiss chard pesto from his garden. As we drank cold beer and chatted about work (he’s an exhibit designer), and romance (he just wrapped up a two-year affair with a local college boy whose name he does not know) I was brought back to my own many solo travel adventures in my teens and early 20s — the way people and experiences magically unfold when you are on the road.

The next morning I woke up in the windowed sleeping loft surrounded by the vision and smell of green. Took my time enjoying black coffee and figs on a chaise lounge the stone patio (close your eyes and imagine me as Cleopatra – I did) when a flock of eight or nine wild turkeys emerged from the property’s many raspberry bushes.

I then jumped in the car and headed to a forest preserve a few miles away. Thrilling in an outing unencumbered by kids and the many accruements they require, I all but leapt out of the car with nothing more than my keys, a tampon and a $20 in my pocket.

The preserve was perfect and empty of any other people. Golden late summer sun shone through the giant trees. A quiet lake where I sat and sat — silver fish intermittently leaping out, here, there (did they sense me?). It felt so good to move my body, climb up mossy hills and over logs, fill my lungs with clean air. It was delightful to be totally, completely alone.

“I’m completely alone,” I thought. “Wait, I’m completely alone.” An edge set in. I wasn’t sticking to the marked trails. I had no food or water. I’d left the map in the car. Bears can smell your period, right? I started to think about The Blair Witch Project.

Needless to say I found my way back – and in a way, back into my old self.

This weekend — like those years ago, backpacking around South America and Europe, jetting off for last-minute weekends to see friends — the experience was just being. Just being in the quiet. Just falling asleep looking at the stars through the skylight. Just napping without guilt or a wakeup time. Just sitting in the cool mountain sun and being so grateful that there is time and place and money to luxuriate in the opportunity to recalibrate.

I thought about how in the past bunch of months I have felt a disconnect from my kids. There are parenting tasks I do not enjoy — I do not enjoy playing make-believe (hello — I’m a journalist. Real life is really interesting, kids!). I do not enjoy hanging out at the playground or engaging in a game of tag. No. But I do enjoy travel. And exploring, and meeting people and talking and learning about the world. And that is what I plan to do more of with my family — without guilt for my disinterest in the other stuff.

And so, in my ongoing gratitude exercise I am grateful for this time away. Time away all by myself. Because being alone doesn’t always have to feel lonely. In fact, it can give you the perspective you need to connect with people in your life in new ways.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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