If you’d asked me at 20 what I thought 40+ would look like, my answer would have been very different to the reality. Now, at a ripe (middle-aged!! - wow) 45, I can tell you why. I had my first biological child 2 months before my 40th birthday, and did my crazy 40th birthday party (planned before I got pregnant) in a club full of friends with my breast pump on standby in a back room. I then got pregnant with my second child at over 42, having my second son a few months after turning 43 in a few hours at breakneck speed – he was born on my sofa. Due to a hot mess of personal reasons I split with his father when Son 2 was only 9 months old, navigating a separation crisis as the world was plunged headfirst into ‘The Corona Crisis’. I installed a pole-dancing pole in my attic room as a FU*K you to my gym closing due to said Corona, winter approaching and the onset of general single life. Finally, I took up an aerial silks class to learn this new skill as well. My friends would tell you that I’m not the kind of person to take the easy option in life and it seems they are right. This is my personal story of being single, over 40 and living my best life.
It wasn’t my burning desire to have kids, and yet I have three
They say life it what happens to you while you’re making other plans. For me this really turned out to be true. I got to my mid-thirties before I met a guy that I would even consider having kids with, and it was a decision I took because I also met my gorgeous stepdaughter, Cate. She was adorable, cute and quirky, and we got on really well — she was only 5 when we got to know each other properly, and at our first meeting turned up with a bunch of flowers— to say I was smitten is an understatement. Helping to look after her made me realise that I was good at this parenting thing. And that, in opposition to what my mum always said to me when I was younger, I actually did have a maternal bone in my body. I now know via my three kids I have at least three maternal bones in my body. As I was already a parent in one respect, my partner and I decided to go for it and have our own children together.
I ain't going to sugar coat being a single mum
Being a single mum with young kids is extremely exhausting 99% of the time. The separation story is another whole blog post in itself and one I will focus on in the future, perhaps. I can honestly say that the Corona crisis that was 2020 passed me by in a blur of working, separation sadness, and total exhaustion from everything going on. I was suddenly with my kids all the time after their father moved out. Like most mums I speak to, I’ve always taken on more care of their welfare, what they call the mother’s mental load: things like dentist appointments, school reports, doctor visits, passport applications, and anything that requires some actual forward planning and thought has always fallen on me anyway. Suddenly on top of this for 3 kids, I also had the stress of earning all my own money and paying my own huge mortgage since I kept the house. While I get some childcare costs back from the Dutch government, it’s still a chunk of cash paid out every month that equates to another mortgage. I freelance, and did so even when I first had my kids, so having my kids around when schools and day-care close due to corona measures, means less hours working and therefore less money on the table at exactly the time when I need to earn way more money than ever before simply to cover my costs. Somehow, don’t ask me how, I managed it all with a lot of evening and weekend working in 2020 when my kids were in bed. What are the upsides? Ha, ask me in another year. As my kids get older it is getting a little easier. I live in a different country to my family so I really have no help except a good ‘family’ of friends around. I don’t know any different, but listen enviously to the Dutch parents around me whose families help with childcare. It’s not easy but I’m doing it my own way and I get some satisfaction out of that.
Dating over 40 was a revelation
Apparently most single mums out of a long term relationship won’t date for 1-2 years post break-up. I knew my relationship was really over when I wanted to start dating again about 8 months into my decision to separate. The apps are the only real choice to get out there again, not an appealing thought, but I felt ready. I wanted some excitement in my life that wasn’t about me being a mum or about my kids’ welfare and achievements, something outside of working. I wanted to find someone I was attracted to and have a good time with. I found it really freeing I didn’t have to be on the lookout for a father to my children. Pleasure and fun could come back into the equation — which when it comes to dating feels like being 20 again. So a guy I’m dating is not really partner material but I like them – who cares. I’m doing everything myself anyway! What I discovered is that dating over 40 is more about your mind-set than anything else. Yes, it can be hard to ‘get back out there’, but I’m still a woman, I know myself and my body more today than ever before (having pushed two babies out the nether regions perhaps?), and even though I have my days where I don’t feel great about myself, I’m pretty happy with where I am in my life. I’ve met some cool guys so far, and yes I’ve already kissed a few frogs along the way. At least now I’m experienced enough to spot and ditch them quicker. And by the way, the sex is the best it’s ever been — so that's cool.
Finding how to make yourself feel good for over 40 dating
MyJulie.com.au would be horrified, but while I of course follow @australiasbeautyboss treatments with amusement and envy, it took me being single to find more time to prioritise myself over my family. I have definitely adopted the Dutch way of doing skincare and anti-aging up until now. This involves not giving a cr*p and aging as naturally and gracefully as possible. The Dutch are a beautifully tall and striking race – they’re really lucky. Good genes, good skin when they keep out the sun, and good curvy but toned figures are the norm. While I’ve always taken care of my body with fitness, my main skincare routine up to 40 has been using a decent SPF on my face. The thought of dating and the fact I lost a lot of weight during the separation, meant sudden wrinkles in full technicolour. I’m a smiley person. I’ve got laughter lines, alright?! So what did I go for? I opted for dentist led teeth whitening, which I did over a few nights with my own moulds at home. Botox around my upper eyes to help there with the wrinkling. There are a few treatments I still want to try; micro-needling and a PCA chemical face peel but I haven’t booked the appointment yet. And I will get to use and review some of the products from MyJulie.com.au from my Amsterdam home, so I can keep you posted on those ones. All this made me feel good about myself — and way more confident too, because it’s all about feeling good on the inside and outside ladies. And that comes down to a great self-care routine. My recommendation of the decade is to find the fitness, skincare, and any other self-care routine that you love, and make time to do them weekly just to keep sane in this cray cray world of ours.
Take up a self-care routine that makes you feel great
I’ve pretty much always danced. I started aged 4 and stopped doing 3 classes a week aged only 16 or 17. I’m naturally a good dancer with great rhythm and it’s something I have turned to again and again throughout my life (thanks has to go to my mum here for taking me to all those dance classes when I was little, it paid off!). Dancing makes me really happy. When I’m dancing I can forget my life and my worries, my dreams and my ‘failures’ for an hour and get lost in the music while moving my body. If the dance is strenuous enough, like mine are, there’s no space to think about anything except getting into the next move as gracefully as possible. Over the years I’ve dabbled in lindy hop, salsa, and lately it has been the pole dancing and aerial silks that have inspired me. I have some extra attic space in my house, so when all the classes stopped in 2020 I installed a pole upstairs and did online classes. I’m no acrobat or professional, but for my age and as an amateur I can put a few moves together and look decent. This had the added result that last year my core, instead of getting piled up with corona kilos, became more toned than when I was in my 20's. A great confidence boost as well as great for my mental health. It doesn’t hurt that it helps to keep me fit and active enough to run around after my very energetic young kids.
So what does all this tell you? It tells you to trust in the journey as well as the way you thought your life would go. That life is pretty damn good, and that unlike our parents, we’re lucky to be part of a generation where anything is possible – age is indeed just a number. What happened to you in your life that surprised you? — I would love to hear your stories.
I’m 45 year’s young. I have known @australiasbeautyboss from many years ago in London when I was a writer at a big Advertising agency. I live in Amsterdam and I am now rediscovering myself as a single woman over 40, and a single mum of 3 kids (two biological sons, one stepdaughter). I am a freelance copywriter and content manager, and have run my own successful small freelance copy business in London and now Amsterdam for over 15 years. I like chocolate, the colour red, dance, sexy lingerie and over 40s skincare because it makes me feel good. I’m a guest-blogger and you can always reach out to me via Instagram, myjulie.com.au, or tell me your own experiences in the comments below.
Photography Credit: SJ Breastfeeding captured by Myscha Oréo