Starting Over as a Single Parent (and Co-Parent)
Single parenting after divorce might be the best thing to happen to you in years!
A new chance to reconnect with your kids and be the parent you always wanted to be, making your kids your priority instead of focusing so much energy on a partner. Meal times and bedtimes, when and where you shop for groceries, you get to decide all of these things without needing approval or feedback from a spouse.
Single parenting isn't always a bed of roses. Here are a few tips to help make the transition easier for you and your kids, while keeping your sanity.
Change is hard. Be patient with everyone. Understand things might not go according to your plans and that's ok.
Restful sleep helps your brain work better. Set bedtimes that create 7 hours of sleep for everyone.
Turn off electronic devices a minimum of 1 hour before bed. Unless you are a first responder or on call, you'll be ok with keeping your phone or Ipad charging in the other room.
Make time for family fun night every single week. Eat at least 1 dinner together at the kitchen table, if you have one.
No tech at the table. Use this time to reconnect with your kids and learn about their lives at school and with their friends.
Give yourself a play date. One night or afternoon a week devoted to you and only you.
Secure a list of babysitters. If you don't have family or neighbors who can babysit, interview babysitters. High school or college students are perfect.
Pick a night to plan meals for the following week and go grocery shopping. Involve the kids as appropriate. Encourage your kids to make dinner from a recipe one night per week. Offer to do the dishes and clean up afterwards.
Give your kids chores so you are not stuck with all of the housework. Show your kids how you want tasks completed, then supervise, monitor and check. Don't forget to look under the bed!
Make time for grown up time with friends.
Set specific hours and appropriate modes of communication with your ex/co-parent.
When your kids are with your ex, plan fun stuff to do that occupies your time and brain. Refrain from calling your kids unless you have a specified call time.
Add exercise or joyful movement into your weekly schedule. It's a great stress reliever, good for your heart, and releases "happy chemicals" in your brain.
Sara Minges, B.A., M.S., is a former Child & Family Divorce Therapist, Life Coach, Keynote Speaker, Parenting Blogger, and Author. She has 20+ years of experience helping parents, kids, and teens live happy, fulfilled lives. Sara has also been featured in yahoo parenting and worked with Lady Gaga's Foundation, Born This Way. Sara can be reached via email at email@example.com.