Living Beyond Divorce

By: Alyssa Johnson

Divorce creates chaos. There's no getting around it. Even if the divorce has brought a greater sense of peace and calm into your life, it's still change and with change comes chaos. As a parent, you know that children rarely function very well in chaos, so one of your prime strategies needs to be to create some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. That may just seem like yet another thing to add to your already bulging "to do" list, but the truth is, you'll be able to clear off more than just one item from that list if this gets accomplished quickly.

First of all you need to define what "normalcy" is for your new family. It may not look like it did before. It's important for you to get some ideas of what you want a normal day to look like, and then call in the troops and ask them how they would like a normal day to run. Be prepared for some sarcastic or sad comments that lean toward wanting things to be as they used to be. Don't avoid these conversations. Accepting that what "used to be" is gone is part of the grieving process that your kids need to go through. Try to make it a productive conversation though.

You may need to start off by sharing some of your ideas for a normal day in order to get them talking. You're not looking for earth shaking ideas right now. It's just the beginning of this journey together. This is the starting point and you will grow from here.

Secondly, some type of routine needs to be in place. This doesn't have to be rigid. It just needs to be something that you and your kids can count on. That will provide a sense of security for all of you. Now that school's back in session, part of that schedule has already been created for you. Your kids have school to go to. They will have homework that needs to be done. Dinner will need to be eaten. Beyond those things, decide what if anything else needs to be added. This routine can be daily, weekly or even monthly.

Making time for each other was very important to a family I did some coaching with. In order to accomplish this, they agreed that on the weekends they were with their mother, they would go out for breakfast on Saturday mornings. This agreement was very important to them. The children chose to never stay the night at friends' houses on Friday unless they knew their mom could pick them up in time to do this "ritual.". It was an opportunity to just be together and talk if they felt like it or just "hang" (as the teenage daughter described it).

Finally, don't forget to have fun! Yes, there's a lot that has to get done. Yes, the kids may be sad about their family changing. You may even be sad about the family changing. But life shouldn't always be sad, especially when children are around. Fun doesn't always equate with money. You can still cuddle up on the couch and watch TV, have a pillow fight or throw a ball around, even if money's really tight right now.

Start off by doing those things that you used to do together for fun. Out of those, create new "fun" activities. It's those fun activities that bind us to one another. Even if they aren't showing it much these days, you kids love you. Strengthen that love by investing time, not money to create fun moments with them.

Time is the healer of all things. It will take time for things to "feel" normal. It's just something you have to walk out and experience to create a normal that is uniquely yours now. These three steps will be great guides to help you achieve that prize at the end of this journey.

Divorce and Infidelity
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