Written by: Cally Worden
Long before the ink is dry on the divorce papers, the effects of the separation rumble through your world. Divorce changes your life, and that of your kids, forever. No matter which parent you are, or what degree of access or custody you have, the simple fact that your family is no longer whole is enough to bring you up sharp – we all take our lives for granted. When things change significantly, as they do in a divorce, it brings the important stuff into focus.
If your kids are no longer with you, you may miss them terribly. You may also value your alone-time. Both are okay. But making the most of the time you do have with your kids becomes a big deal for many parents. Here are a few thoughts on how best to achieve that.
Remind Yourself of your Good Fortune
You may not feel particularly fortunate as a newly-single parent, when finances are stretched and you must deal with not seeing your kids every day. But choosing to focus on the times that you do have together can help see you through the rough moments. Many divorced parents who are struggling with the emotional upheaval of the separation from their children, report that maintaining a positive attitude helps them significantly. The more you repeat a truth to yourself (and your children), the bigger place it holds in your world. Simply reminding yourself how lucky you are to have your children at all and telling them so, makes it more real.
Capitalise on Kitchen Time
Divorced or not, we all have to eat. Preparing a meal takes time and effort and is a task that is easily shared with the children. Even the youngest kids can get involved. What you are creating when you’re in the kitchen is far more than a simple meal – you are creating memories, cherished time together with your kids helps build a bond between you that will endure into their adulthood. Cooking is a way of spending time together, which is also free from the distraction of electronic gadgets. It is a task-based activity that relieves the pressure of intense one-on-one communications. It helps to establish your new single-parent-family, as a team in its own right. That’s powerful stuff.
Ease up on the Social Schedule
It’s important for your kids that life remains as normal and structured as possible, both during and after a divorce. But not at the expense of establishing a new family routine. Your kids need to see that while the security of their original ‘nuclear’ family has gone, a new (and probably far less stressed) family structure has replaced it. It will take time for this new reality to feel secure, far longer if your time with your kids is constantly interrupted by play-dates, sleepovers and after-school activities. It’s all about achieving a balance that allows the kids their freedoms and choices, while simultaneously showing them that their presence in your world, and theirs in yours, remains as important as ever.
Make your Own Choices
Courts, mediators and solicitors may have a significant role to play in determining how much time you have with your children following a divorce. But, what you choose to do with that precious time is up to you. It may not be the ideal scenario, or the utopian family reality you’d imagined when your children were born, but that doesn’t stop you from making the time that you do have with your kids amazing. Your aim is to make the most of your time together, building happy memories for your kids despite the difficulties between you and their other parent. Believe that this is possible, then you are halfway there.