This is the next post in my series discussing the importance of maintaining a court ordered custody schedule. My previous post discussed the difficulties that co-parents face with communication and offered tools to help share necessary information with a co-parent. In this post, I will be discussing an issue that many parents struggle with- filling their time when their children are with their co-parent. Many parents experience feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger when their children are away. In this article, I will offer parents advice on how to navigate these feelings.
Many parents struggle with the transition of not having their children with them 7 days a week
When a family breaks up, it can often feel like the death of a dream. Many parents had an image of one family sharing time together, and when a couple breaks up, that image is gone. It can be very difficult for some parents to adjust when their children are away with their co-parent. Complicated emotions can arise; it may be helpful for a parent to speak with a therapist or divorce coach to talk through larger feelings of anxiety or depression. But for parents who are starting a new custody schedule and need tips on how to adjust, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Stay off of social media. If your co-parent is a frequent Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc. user, no good will come from cyberstalking your children. Repeatedly checking to view photos of your children having a good time without you will not do your mental health any good. The same goes for if your children have their own accounts.
- Have a plan. If your children are going to be gone for an entire weekend, do not be left alone with an endless amount of time. Make plans in advance, whether that means working an extra shift, going to a movie that you are looking forward to, or catching up on errands you have meant to run. Whatever your agenda is, if you know the time without your children will be difficult, prepare yourself with a full schedule.
- Practice self-care. When your children are with you, you might not have time to go to the gym, take a bath, read a book, etc. Use your alone time to do something positive for yourself.
- Be social. It is easy for parents to get wrapped up in their children’s schedules. Take the time your children are away to reconnect with friends, spend time with family, meet new people, go on dates, etc. Being a single parent can be isolating. Interacting with other people will help you feel more connected.
- Evaluate your needs. When the kids are present, a single parent can feel like they are in survival mode. The main focus is often put on making sure the children are doing ok. When the children are with their mom or dad it is a good time to evaluate your personal goals. Taking the time for self-reflection can help a single parent from feeling as if they are drowning with no direction.
Contact our parental coach for assistance
As a divorce coach, and parent herself, Lindsey understands the complicated feelings that can arise when it comes to sharing custody. Every parent is different; while some may look forward to their time alone, others have a very difficult time adjusting. Lindsey offers coaching to those who need a sounding board and temporary help adjusting to their new situation. Divorce coaching is a short term arrangement for those who are going through the divorce process and are not sure what to expect. Lindsey utilizes video chat technology and provides service to clients anywhere in the United States. If you are experiencing prolonged feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, or depression, please contact a mental health professional in your area.