Your friends may be envious. They may say things like, “Wow, a weekend without the kids”, but when that weekend comes and everyone else is busy with their families, sitting home alone isn’t that much fun. Then, there’s the longer breaks – for example, when it’s your ex’s turn to take the kids on a vacation. It’s hard to quit being a parent 24/7 and give up the children so that they enjoy the company of both parents. Here are 5 tips that will help.
1. Make Plans to Stay Busy. If you sink into the couch and wonder why the house seems so empty – after all it’s really quiet, you may find yourself just moping around the house. So, make plans. Maybe you can schedule a business trip that you need to take. That’s a win – you get the job done and you stay busy. See friends – especially those that are single like you. Don’t be afraid to plan a little vacation. A day trip to a town that’s nearby and a night in the hotel isn’t expensive. Spending a day soaking up the local ambiance and enjoying local restaurants may be just right. Or, if money is tight, go visit your sister or your mother and father. No charges for their guest room and you can relax and catchup with the family.
2. Let Yourself Relax. When was the last time that you stayed in bed until 10 a.m. or even noon? Pile up your unread magazines or a favorite book and just relax. You’re a single parent now and that means you’re doing double-duty much of the time. Allow yourself to take a deep breath and pamper yourself! Balance that “me time” with busy time so you can indulge yourself and have enough activities to look forward to doing so you don’t end up being sad and feeling alone.
3. Get Rid of the Guilt. What’s done is done and what’s past is past. Don’t beat yourself up and think you’re being punished for getting divorced. You made a decision that you felt was the best one for your family. It wasn’t easy. And, if it was your ex who decided to divorce, you can’t blame yourself. Sharing the kids isn’t a punishment – it’s what is best for them. The blame game will only make you feel more alone so give yourself credit for dealing with a difficult situation – and get back to making plans for your time when the kids aren’t with you.
4. Stay in Touch. Work this out with your spouse when you’re establishing the child custody arrangement. Make sure that you both have the right to call and talk to the kids when they are with the other person. It takes two to have children. Acknowledge this and don’t lock each other out when it’s the other parent’s time. Make sure you can contact your kids and check in with them. Buy them a cell phone if necessary, but make sure you and your ex are on the same page with this one as you agree on the custody arrangement.
5. Be Flexible. Your ex is supposed to have the kids all weekend, but he or she got an unexpected call to go to the office. Maybe you’ve already made your own plans, but the right answer isn’t “find a babysitter”. Tally up extra time with your kids by saying, “No problem; I can have them.” You want to create a give and take relationship that is best for the kids. So be flexible when parenting times need to change because the day may come when you need the help of your ex.
Acknowledge that it won’t be all freedom and fun when your kids are with your ex and, on the other hand, acknowledge that you can plan to put that free time to good use – whether it’s catching up on work so you have more time with them when your parenting time comes around again or planning to enjoy the time with family, friends and activities. Set the stage by hiring an experienced divorce lawyer who understands how to craft a custody agreement that is fair to you and your ex – and the best one for the children. Ask that family lawyer to help you address shared parenting so that it is a workable situation for everyone.