“There are four speeds in life: walk, run, sprint, and rest.” — anonymous yoga teacher
We live in a world that is constantly evolving. Institutions and relationships once that were sacred are being questioned every day.
Personal goals, professional aspirations, gender arguments, financial issues, pandemics or pure personal conflict are pulling us apart like never before.
The decision for a couple to separate is often emotional. Sometimes it happens too quickly or under unexpected circumstances and it can be hard to stop and consider the emotional outcome of a separation or divorce - on self as well as on the children.
If you have suddenly been thrust into being a co-parent, then supporting your children emotionally while finding balance for yourself may become a hurdle. Keeping your focus on what is important can be harder.
Being a parent is hard; being a divorced or separated parent today is harder than most can imagine. One thing that remains constant is our desire to create a better future for our next-gen. After moving your kids through the initial emotional shock of not-being-together-under-one-roof, it’s important to balance your own needs and desires with theirs. Here are a few tips for staying sane as you find that balance.
Enlist your family members and friends for support: Your children will benefit from seeing they have an extended network of people who continue to provide them with love and care. This will also take some pressure off your shoulders to be present all the time for the kids who surely have different needs than yours. It may be useful to find new friends and acquaintances who have had experiences in co-parenting or single parenting or who can be trusted with your kids.
Do at least one restorative activity for yourself when your children are spending time with the other co-parent. Loneliness can be hard to adjust to. Work, Netflix, and going out with friends may not be able to fill the void. Preempt the loneliness ahead of time with a plan you can look forward to - yoga, cycling, meditation, a new language - anything is possible.
If you decide to enjoy your alone time and are not ready to do an activity outside with others, then pick up on activities that you can do from the comfort of your privacy - plenty of online options are available these days. The key is not to forget about your mental and physical health.
Allowing the kids to explore something new. Just as it’s empowering to plan for your restart, having a fun new thing to focus on can help your kids adjust and feel more positive about the changes. Excitement can come from something as simple as allowing your kids to decorate their rooms, cook a new dish on your week with them or explore a new museum together.
Do not forget that kids usually are smarter and more sensitive than ever before. Discussing the situation in simple words and providing clarity can help address their confusion. This also gives you a new narrative or a novel way to explain the situation to yourself. With older children and teenagers, it might look like ongoing, open conversations about the big changes everybody’s facing. For toddlers, it could be lots of extra cuddles and quality time.
Lean into being an effective co-parent. Raising children under the same roof with another parent is a completely different experience than doing so from two houses. I know what it’s like to feel when you’re trying your best to become a trusted co parent and colliding with realities when things don’t work out well with your ex-spouse.
We frequently think things like “How best to phrase this email?” and “Is this something that we should both pay for?” A tool like #Kiido can help with a number of these concerns (like shared expenses, money transfers, sharing pictures and documents, and shared custody calendar) and could help avoid conflict and reduce stress.
Finding balance post-separation and co-parenting is a personal journey. So while the suggestions above can work for both men and women, you must realize that your situation is unique and may need tweaks or adjustments.
Embrace the new you. Keep moving.
Hugs from the Kiido Team