Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
After the divorce, and after all the dust has settled, you enter a new realm: post-divorce. What this looks like is up to you. Hopefully it’s a time for rejuvenation of your soul and finding YOU again. It should be a time of feeling happier and free of the stress that plagued you and your children for a long while. Of course, there is the adjustment period for all, which can take months and sadly, sometimes years.
Try not to raise your expectations too high and remember baby steps are necessary even if you were the initiator of the divorce.
Here are some tips on moving forward post-divorce.
1) Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge that you have been through a trauma with all the changes you and your family have been through. It’s a time of re-adjusting for all. It can be difficult getting used to what I call, empty-house-syndrome, which is when the kids sleep over their other parents’ house. Keep your own expectations low for the time being by giving yourself permission to recuperate from the experience. Let the house go a bit as you tie up all loose ends. Spend more time doing only what you must do as you take this time to slow down.
2) Reflection is the key to moving forward. This is part and parcel to number 1, but this is where you reflect on what and why the marriage failed. It is a good idea to buy a small journal to track your thoughts and feelings regularly.
3) As you and your children begin to get accustomed to the new schedule, try not to get caught up in the one-upping that tends to happen between divorced parents. This is not healthy for the kids as it tends to make them play against you both, and it spoils them big time.
4) Rebuild the new family. Remember, what was once is no more. Meaning, it’s time to inject different traditions. It is time to rebuild the family as you see fit. Of course, you can keep certain holiday traditions that you and the kids love, just add some. A big winner for many is to pick a weekly game night with pizza and no phones allowed. Or, Saturdays when they are with you, make them become chore days (of course they will scoff and complain) but afterward reward them with a fun treat. These traditions will be remembered for years thereafter and begin to take the sting away from the loss of the divorce and the former family unit.
5) Stay active in your children’s lives. It’s imperative to be an active participant in your children’s lives, whether you are the custodial or visiting parent. They need both parents!! Unless your ex was an abuser to you and your children, do your best to encourage their relationship. It is imperative for raising healthy, happy children.
6) Rediscover some of your talents. No doubt, the divorce took a lot out of you, and you stopped doing many things you enjoyed. Take this time to BEGIN AGAIN! When you have time away from the children, take those cooking classes you’ve been wanting to do, or start practicing yoga; do what makes you happy.
7) Call on your sister friends. Utilize your friends during this difficult transition. Have them over to your place for wine or coffee. Go window-shopping, see a movie (preferably a comedy), anything to take the sting away from your initial lonely weekends.
8) Do not rush into another relationship. Naturally, the sting of divorce leaves us feeling unloved and at times unlovable. I promise that you aren’t! Think of it as a time for personal growth and re-discovering yourself. Take this time for you, and when the time is right, love will find its way to you.
Christine Marie is the author of To Stay or Not to Stay: How to Know When it’s Time to Leave Your Marriage. Available for Kindle or in paperback. She also offers divorce mentoring for the separated or divorced woman who needs help moving forward.
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