10 Things I wish I knew when I was going through a divorce
Divorce SUCKS! This episode of the Impactful Parent is raw, truthful, and OH SO HELPFUL! Kristina Campos, founder, gives her top 10 tips for the newly divorced so that you can do more than just survive this stage of your life, but THRIVE!
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10 Things I wish I knew when I was going through a divorce
“Put the kids first” is what everyone says when you are going through a divorce, but what about everything else? I’ve been divorced. I know. It not only sucks, but it’s scary, stressful, and embarrassing. Divorce can feel overwhelming, and then you throw kids into the mix- and your stress levels skyrocket. You can barely hold yourself together. Now, you have to think about the well-being of the kids, too.
Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of the Impactful Parent. Every week, I give you parenting videos to help your parenting journey. If you have a particular topic or parenting question about your school-aged child that you would like me to address, please submit it at [email protected] or by messaging me on social media. All submissions are kept anonymous.
This is part 2 of the Impactful Parent Divorce series. In part one, I gave you 10 pieces of advice that were surveyed by several of my own divorced friends and relatives. Today, I give you my top 10 pieces of advice I wish I had known during my divorce.
I was married for 13 years. All 4 of my children are from my ex-husband. I met him when I was 18, and we married when I was 24. Not every year of my 13-year marriage was a fairytale. Still, I was as happy as a peach for most of my marriage. 😊 Then, after my 4th child, and sometime between my 37th and 38th birthdays, things fell apart. I was heartbroken. I was so out of my mind with sadness that I could barely function, let alone take care of my children, but somehow, I found a way (just as most parents do.) I could hardly think straight during those emotional times. I wish I had someone to advise and lead me in the right direction. Unfortunately, I am one of the only divorced people in my family, and my friend group at the time was also happily married.
So, if you can relate to a similar feeling and situation, this episode is for you. Today, I am giving you my top 10 pieces of advice I wish I had when I was newly divorced. Let’s get started.
Newly Divorced Advice 1: Prepare Yourself To Eat Shit
Call it “taking the high road” or “Doing what is best for the children.” Still, either way- this usually means feeling like you are the one always compromising, always giving in, always holding your tongue, and basically, eating shit.
You see, doing what is best for the children and taking the high road looks like this:
- Not talking badly about your ex even when they have told your children lies and they are openly talking crap about you.
- It means spending many nights alone and missing special events because your ex has the kids.
- Sometimes, it means keeping the kids longer, canceling your plans, and being held on home arrest because the ex can’t take them even though they said they would.
- This often means talking to your ex and communicating well with them, even though you never want to speak to them again.
- And in the beginning, sometimes this means getting out of bed, making 3 meals a day, taking the kids for a walk, and exercising, even though all you want to do is bury your head in bed pillows.
The beginning is tough. I am not going to sugarcoat this. To make matters worse, it is difficult to feel confident and empowered when you constantly feel like YOU are the one compromising, losing out, or getting the short end of the stick.
*Extra tip: Be wary of friends and family who try to build you up by putting your ex down. This isn’t going to be helpful in the long run. It will just make you even more bitter and vengeful. Instead, take comfort in knowing that if you feel like you are the one eating shit all the time, you are probably doing what is best for your kids (and not yourself.) To that, I say, Good Job. It’s not easy.
Newly Divorced Advice 2: You Have to Forgive or At Least Make Peace With It
Forgiveness does not mean condoning your ex’s behaviors or saying the divorce is okay. Forgiveness is for yourself. Not for them. The sooner you can accept your new reality, the sooner you can move forward and leave the past behind you. At least make peace with what happened and how you got here. Even better, if you can do this with your ex through mediation or counseling, resolving what happened to yourself is more important. Holding on to hurt feelings will only make you bitter and vengeful. Neither of these is good for you or the kids.
Newly Divorced Advice 3: You Just Lost Control, So Let It Go.
You’ve heard it before from your own divorced friends. They will say things like, “I can’t believe the ex is letting the kids stay up past 10 p.m., or I hate how my ex handled things when my daughter hurt.” I think exes will always complain about how the other is doing things.
The truth is: You don’t have any control over what happens to the kids when they are on your ex’s time, so don’t sweat the small stuff and let it go.
It is okay to parent differently from your ex. After a divorce, it is common for parents to have different parenting styles. Remember, you can only control what is happening in your home, so instead of trying to micromanage your ex’s parenting (which is impossible now,) get hyper-focused on being the best parent YOU can be for your child.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. After a divorce, it is easy to get caught up in minor disagreements and conflicts. Remember that not everything is worth fighting over. Choose your battles wisely and focus on the big picture: your child’s well-being.
Newly Divorced Advice 4: Your Kids Are Not the Mailman or the Messenger
Don’t put your child in the middle. It is essential to avoid putting your child in the middle of any conflict between you and your ex-partner. Children should not be used as messengers or spies. They should not be forced to take sides or choose between parents. Doing so can cause emotional distress and damage the child’s relationship with both parents.
I get it. The last thing you want to do is talk to your ex about anything, but just because you loathe having a dialogue with them doesn’t mean you should hand off that responsibility to your kids. This brings me to Number 5…
Newly Divorced Advice 5: Figure Out The Best Way To Communicate With Your Ex
You are stuck with this person for the rest of your life. Even after your kids are 18, there will be future weddings and celebrations where you will see your ex again and again. Figure out how to communicate with them NOW so that you don’t become one of those couples that refuse to be in the same room. Again, this only hurts the children. Find a mediator. A mediator can help you discuss the big stuff with the ex so things don’t get overheated. Use parenting apps to communicate schedules, drop-offs, pick-ups, and everything logistical about the children. The great thing about parenting apps for the divorced is that it documents and keeps all communication logs. This allows you to refer back to past conversations or even use those conversations to settle arguments if you have an ex who says one thing and does another.
Set hurt and anger aside and figure out how to co-parent. The beginning of this journey starts with finding an excellent way to communicate.
Newly Divorced Advice 6: Cry, Kick, and Scream NOW
Stuffing down emotions is only temporary. Eventually, all that anger, frustration, embarrassment, sadness, and fear will surface. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your marriage. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you process your feelings. Allow yourself to FEEL. The quickest way to happiness is through sadness. There are no shortcuts.
Newly Divorced Advice 7: Routine Will Be Your Saving Grace
Figure out a routine for each day and stick with it! When you feel like you can’t get out of bed, the routine will give you purpose and something you must do. A routine also provides predictability and security for children when everything feels unhinged to them. Create consistency for your child. It will reduce their anxiety and stress caused by the divorce. Routine can also reduce how much pressure, planning, and things you have to think about. This was especially helpful when I felt like I couldn’t even find my car keys most days. And lastly, the routine will reduce your child’s urges to act out. Your children are stressed and uncertain, so you can’t eliminate all unwanted behaviors. Still, you can reduce naughty behaviors by giving your child a predictable schedule that allows them to go on auto-pilot during this turbulent time.
Newly Divorced Advice 8: The Kids Are Watching, So Be Careful
Kids will see EVERYTHING. Here is your opportunity to be a positive role model.
Remember that the kids are unhinged right now, too. They don’t know how to feel or behave. Children will silently look to their parents for guidance. You teach your kids a lot through this process, even if you don’t realize it or want to. They are watching.
You are role modeling:
- how to deal with people you don’t get along with,
- how to handle a breakup,
- how to recover and get back on your feet after a breakup,
- what to say and do when you are full of emotions,
- The best way to cope with sadness, fear, and anger,
- how to move on,
- how to forgive,
And more. Take this role modeling seriously, and be careful about everything you say and do in front of your kids.
Newly Divorced Advice 9: Create New Traditions
Consider how you want the weekly routine to look. What new traditions do you want to implement for special holidays? Is there anything you want to implement into your family life that you never did before because the ex wasn’t onboard? Now is the time.
Creating family traditions helps children adjust to the new family dynamic and provides a sense of continuity and stability. It shows kids that life continues and unique activities that unite families remain important.
For example, you can start a new tradition of going to the park every Saturday or having a family game night every Friday. Whatever your new traditions look like, begin implementing those now.
Newly Divorced Advice 10: Prioritize Yourself
The bottom line is you can’t take care of the kids when you are tired, stressed, and run down. This is not the best version of yourself. To be a good parent, you need to prioritize yourself. It may feel counterintuitive, but consider the old airplane saying, “Put your own oxygen mask on first so you don’t pass out before you put the oxygen mask on your child.”
To use another metaphor, you can only be a half-ass parent when your glass is half empty. You need a full cup to pour your kids your love and energy.
You do NOT need to prioritize yourself all day, but it does mean you need to prioritize yourself sometime during the day. Laying in bed and resting may be all you want to do. Still, hopefully, you know when that inner voice is telling you to get up because you have been lying horizontally too long.
For me, prioritizing myself looked like,
- getting 8 hours of sleep,
- exercising 3 times a week,
- talking on the phone with the bestie at least once a week,
- slipping out of my yoga pants and actually getting into jeans to lift my spirits every once in a while,
- getting a babysitter so I could have some extended time alone once a month,
- being intentional about making NEW friends,
- and joining a volleyball league.
These all made me release anger, sadness, and frustration OR make me forget my situation and feel like myself again for a few hours.
Whatever your self-care looks like, start your regime ASAP. Do it to be a better parent. Do it because the kids are watching. They need to see their parents prioritize health and wellness so they will do the same.
Divorce is tough, but you can do this. Prioritize your child’s well-being and work with your ex to make the transition as smooth as possible. Following these tips can help your child adjust to the new family dynamic and ensure they continue feeling loved and supported.
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But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.
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