Divorce: How Self Care Impacts Your Children
Posted in Divorced Parents, Personal Work
Did you know that how you handle your divorce directly impacts your children? Sociologist Paul Amato has studied divorce and the effects of divorce on children for decades. “Stress impairs the quality of a parent’s childrearing skills,” Amato writes. For that reason, the “well-being of children is positively associated with the post-divorce psychological adjustment of the custodial parent.” In other words, there is a direct correlation between how well you handle the stress of your divorce and how well your children will do after your divorce.
No matter where you are in the divorce process, yet to file or divorced for years, how are you doing with self care? How are you handling the stress; of anticipating divorce, the emotional roller coaster of the process, balancing the responsibilities of single parenting, co-parenting with your ex? Did you make New Year’s resolutions to take better care of your self? How are you progressing with your goals? We often have good intentions to take care of ourselves, yet how easy it is as parents to forfeit our own needs to take care of everyone else’s needs.
Have you ever learned something after the fact, that if you would have known the information sooner you would have made better choices? And no, I am not referring to the person you married. I am talking about the stress of divorce, self care and how it will impact your children. Now that you know there is a direct correlation between how you handle the stress of your divorce and how it will affect your children, will you do anything differently? What if the best thing you could do for your kids is to take better care of yourself? It is never too late.
Below you will find tips on how you can take better care of yourself, reduce your stress and make better choices.
Divorced Parent Self Care Tips:
1. Time for yourself. Allow yourself some time to journal, read an encouraging book or devotional, take a walk, or exercise, sit quietly and drink your favorite beverage at the beginning or end of the day, without having to attend to anyone’s needs.
2. Emotional Health. Be sure to get the support you need to heal and recover from your divorce. Work through the emotions, suppressing your feelings or denying them will only cause more problems. Find a therapist, coach, counselor, or divorce recovery group to help you process your divorce. Surround yourself with supportive, encouraging, loving friends and family. Avoid or limit time with people who bad mouth your ex or spread negativity. You may need to set some boundaries. Having a trusted friend who will listen and let you process your feelings with out judgment, or leading you down a destructive path, can be invaluable.
3. Accept and/or Ask for Help. Often time’s people will want to help you out by offering to baby sit your kids, help out with driving your kids to practice, school, or cooking a meal, or taking over a commitment for you (ex. volunteer, or service task), let them. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling emotionally and need a break, hire a baby sitter, or see if a friend or family member can watch your kids for you. Some people may want to help you but don’t know how. They would be more than willing to help you out. Now is not the time to try and handle “everything” when you could use a break. No need to feel guilty, or think you are weak. Remember the acts of kindness you receive and pay it forward when you are in a better place or position to help someone else.
4. Gratitude. I know this can be difficult, especially when you feel like your whole world is falling apart. No matter what your circumstances, there are always things you can be grateful for every day. Taking time to focus on gratitude daily gets your mind off of the negative. It raises your awareness of the good things in your life. You may find it helpful to keep a journal to reflect back on and to observe your progress. Some days you may only be thankful for your children, breathing, sunshine, clean water, a roof over your head, food, a smile from your child or a stranger. Try to write down at least 3 each day. If you are able to write more, go for it.
5. Be Kind To Yourself. Now is the time to cut yourself some slack. Realize that divorce is emotionally draining. You will likely not be able to do everything you normally do as effectively and efficiently. Be gentle with yourself. Often you can be your own worst enemy. Don’t judge yourself, feel guilty, or weak because you are not accomplishing everything as normal. It’s okay to lower your expectations of yourself.
As Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Make taking care of yourself a priority. During and after divorce, self care is more important than ever, for your sake and your kid’s. Your children are learning and watching by how you handle your divorce and take care of yourself. What are they learning?
Take a minute and ask yourself what you are doing to take care of yourself. Are you making self care a priority? How can you take better care of yourself? What action will you commit to doing for yourself beginning today?
Copy Right 2012 Shelley Grieser All Rights Reserved.