Tips for life

Balancing Work and Family Life as a Single Parent

It is possible to keep one’s sanity and sense of humor, yet still be a single parent in the workforce. The trick is to be extra organized and do as much as possible when the kids are with the co-parent. It is challenging stepping back into a career when being a stay-at-home mom, or changing to full-time. These tips make life a bit easier.

  1. Work more during visitation. I went to my father’s every other weekend and my nurse mother worked at a hospital during that time. She also picked up extra shifts for the two weeks that I was on vacation with my father and at camp. Another woman worked 8-3 without a formal lunch break. She then went into the office for five hours every Saturday while the kids were at visitation. Since the office was closed, it was peaceful enabling her to get ahead with work. See if you can build flexibility into your job. A dad might work extra on the weekend that he is not with the kids.
  2. Make a huge quantity of lasagne or another dish, and freeze single portions (your work lunches) and family size ones. When you are tired – reheat with a prepared salad. Do a cooking marathon when the kids are at visitation. I buy organic, but yummy prepared meals to give to hungry fellows in a hurry. My sons like Trader Joe’s pot pies and their frozen meat which is quick to cook.
  3. Team up with other single parents to have potlucks or share some tasks. Three moms decided to rotate cooking evening meals, each doing one night a week. One cooks enough for the other two families and packs up the complete meals into containers. They are delivered to those houses nearby and for the next two evenings, she is off the hook for providing dinner. These three have been doing this arrangement for years and treasure those blissful cooking-free nights.
  4. Nurture yourself. If you are frazzled, then you are less able to give your full attention to the kids. Pop in for a pedicure or an occasional facial. Indulge in high end, but low cost organic plant based skin care, such as Boot’s Botanic line. My skin is smooth and I feel heavenly. Sitting on the couch reading a magazine with a cat on my lap is so relaxing. Do what rejuvenates you. Some divorced dads got back into sports and enjoy the camaraderie as well as increasing physical well-being.    Please read more …

Anger Keeps You Attached to your Ex

Anger is another way to keep you attached to your ex after divorce. Here are reasons to sever the anger tie that keeps you bound to your ex.

1. Anger can shrink rather than expand your social network. One divorced woman I know was perpetually angry with her ex and his truly awful family. Instead of being pleased that she got out of that mess, got her Master’s degree, and an exciting job, Penny kept harping on her ex. She endlessly kept going back to that subject, even though her friends lost patience eons ago. She drove pals away when they responded “enough is enough” and Penny refused to listen. Anger can turn a friendship from give and take to just being a sounding board for someone’s misery.

2.  Anger is energy that is spent thinking about your ex or plotting various ways of his demise. It may be a two way street with your anger fuelling his, with retaliation. Anger robs people of time and energy that can be used in a more constructive manner. If you are neutral about someone, such as a co-worker or neighbor, there is no specific tie to them. You interact with them, but then go on you merry way about your own business. Anger is a strong emotion – no take it or leave it attitude. Do you really want this attachment to your ex?

3. Anger builds a wall around people. it is like wearing a “No Trespassing” sign around your neck – stay away. One woman who was bitter post-divorce would yell at her daughter over trivial things. Anger towards her ex splashed over into most areas of her life. The girl did not have much of a relationship with her mother until after college when they were more like friends. Be careful that anger is not endangering your relationships with your children and friends.

Please read more…

Lessons Learned from Divorce

Lessons learned from divorce can have a positive impact on life. They can propel us in new directions, such as with careers or help us appreciate what we had taken for granted.

Divorce taught the importance of taking a break and getting out of one’s environment. My sons and I were allowed to go on an already scheduled cruise during my divorce. The other passengers were fabulous and shared their getting through adversity stories. Walking through the souk in Tunis put our divorce situation right out of our minds. Distraction helps alleviate stress.  Our batteries were recharged during this journey.

I discovered how important family is during a crisis like divorce. My cousin loaned me £15000 which I required immediately for part of a down payment on a house I was buying during my divorce. Without that act of kindness, I would have lost the opportunity to purchase it. My divorce split was coming later. I learned who not to count on for assistance.  My wealthy aunt refused the loan.

When I was enduring a bad marriage, I was focused on survival, not bits of joy. Consider thinking of several things a day for which you are thankful. This helps to not take kindnesses for granted. Or pay attention to what increases your happiness and plan these regularly into your schedule. Fun and laughter have health benefits and decrease my headaches. Meeting friends is a necessity and not an indulgence.  This actions help one get through the craziness of life.

One is vulnerable and is prone to put too much weight on other people’s opinions. When I first got divorced most things seemed monumental. I had to learn when to step back and when to charge ahead. I sometimes felt like I was in a fog and relied too much on others. When visitation deteriorated post-divorce, I listened to my mum and other well-meaning people about just letting it go on as scheduled. Instead of filing a motion with the court to suspend it, my younger son was particularly traumatized by going to visitation a year longer than necessary. He has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which may have been less had I heeded his demand not to go anymore. Neither son has contact with their father or his parents. The point is listen to your gut feeling and push for a resolution to a problem sooner than later.

Divorce can be a teacher to slow down.  Instead of reacting, take a pause from the situation to come up with a response.  Reactions are hot-headed and responding is taking in the facts and making an informed decision about what to do. One does not have to make quick decisions in a panic, but can say, “Let me get back to you.” This also applies to family members, work colleagues, or anyone who may try to enlist your time and energy when you are running on empty.

Going through a divorce has increased my social and professional networks. At first the pool of friends shrinks, but then expands as we meet new people. Moving house in divorce  taught me that I do not need so much stuff.  Many people I interviewed, said that possessions became less important and experiences more so. Post-divorce is an adventure with many twists and turns.