All of a sudden you’re it!
Your partner has left and what was a shared load, is all on your shoulders. With trying to cope with the emotional grief of a failed relationship, you try to juggle the care of the kids, the limited finances and the household chores. Where to start!
Like most single parents, your care of yourself goes to the bottom of the priority list, when in fact, you need to be at your best health to cope with the load.
The emotional grief…
At the loss of a partner is compounded as you see the emotional impact on the children. You try to stay strong, be their rock, to make them feel safe and secure but it’s a struggle. You find yourself operating in survival mode, not participating in life but just trying to get through each day. Your emotional state can make you think irrationally, that you’re failing as a parent to fix everything that has gone wrong.
It’s a tough time and can’t be fixed overnight…
As you try to create some form of normality in the chaos of creating a new life! You may have felt everything was going to plan and knew where life was headed. Suddenly, blindsided with your partner’s exit, you’re left reeling in shock and wondering what the future holds. It’s important to seek support through a network of family and friends, or professional medical advice for medication or counselling. No matter where you seek help from, it’s ok to ask for help!
Don’t try to do it alone, reach out. You would be there for your family or friends in the time of their need, it’s what is called your support network.
The children will be confused and unsettled as their family unit crumbles before their eyes. They will be wondering what the impact on them will be from where will we live to who will look after the cat, and will I still go to the same school?
They may feel panic that they may not see the exiting parent again.
It is so important to sit down with the children and explain that the parents won’t be living together anymore but the children are loved by both and this hasn’t happened due to anything the children have done. It’s important for the children to see the exiting parent as much as they want to. Custody of the children needs to be in the best interest of the child as the utmost priority. The day-to-day care of the children can be taxing as you miss those extra pair of hands to help with cooking tea, bath time, homework, or picking up or dropping off kids at sport.
It’s important to try to be as organised as possible but it’s also important to know what tasks are really a priority. Don’t stress that the lawn didn’t get mowed this week, or the house didn’t get vacuumed this week, or you didn’t make cakes for the school fundraiser etc. You’re going through a tough time, some things are just going to drop off the radar as high priority this week. As long as the kids are fed, clothed, clean and attending school, that’s the priority. Household chores and maintenance can wait until they can be done.
Quality time with the kids is important…
Reading them a story is far more important than cleaning out the fridge, it can wait till your partner or a family member can care for the kids. Maximise the time you have with the kids, take them to the park, sit and read a book together, or sit and talk with them. Let them know you’re there for them and love them. Younger children may become clingy with the unease of the family unit breakdown whereas older children may display behaviours of anger, resentment, or become withdrawn.
It’s important to help them through this tough time with your love and support and seek professional support from your GP to assess if counselling for the children may help them. It’s always important to let the school know that the family is undergoing changes so they’re aware of the impact that may occur at school. If you and your partner can, ensure that the dropping off and pick up of children to school continues to be in place to avoid the load being on one parent or leave the child in fear of not been picked up. Seek assistance from family and friends who may be able to help out or see if you could share school runs with other single parents at the school in the area to help each other out.
The finances will be stretched as the income into the family changes
Whether that has been withdrawn altogether or limited funds being made available. You will need to assess the changes to the income as it impacts the financial outgoings. The financial outgoings may have to be reduced, some eliminated altogether or supplemented by seeking extra funds through child support. It’s important to seek legal advice on your entitlements. Be armed with all the knowledge of the family income, assets and debts. Gain advice before you decide if you should move out of the family home to know what your rights are.
As you juggle through the myriad of issues, it’s important to ensure your health is maintained to help you get through. This is mental and physical health. Take time out to have a bubble bath, relax while on a peaceful walk, be careful not to comfort eat fuelling your emotions resulting in self-loathing, this happened to me and my life spiralled into despair. Some people stress eat and some lose weight during stress. Try to eat healthy and get regular exercise so you can be the healthy you to cope with one of the toughest times in your life. A visit to your GP can help assess if you need medical or professional help during this tough time.
Remember, divorce isn’t the end, it is a new beginning so you can create the life you deserve.