Going through a separation when kids are involved is often described as a whirlwind. The pieces of your life are picked up, thrown around and all land in a different order. It’s only once everything has settled that you can begin to find a new normal.

For many, the process is draining – emotionally, financially, even physically.

Yet, there ways to dampen the disaster that comes with divorce, although unfortunately most people don’t discover these until it’s too late.

In this article we provide sanity saving tips to get you through your separation. By taking onboard just a couple of our ideas will help to lessen the stress and allow you to come out the other side strong, happy and in-control.

1. ACCEPTANCE

Whether you instigated the separation or you were against it, your life has taken an unexpected turn. This can be difficult to accept and can lead to confusion, frustration and upset. Whilst you may not be ready to embrace your new life as a single parent, accepting the situation and moving forward from this point will help banish negative thoughts.

2. CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

You may already have a support system in place, however now is the time to consider if this is right for you while you navigate your separation. Friends and family who are emotionally involved may not be the right people to help you find clarity at this time. Surround yourself with people who understand you and want only the very best for you and your children.

3. EXERCISE

Really? Does exercise matter when my world is falling apart? The answer is: Yes! Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins which make you feel good and improves the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Not only that, taking time to exercise will give you some well-deserved me-time in which to clear your head. Do not underestimate it.

4. DIET

Following on from exercise, diet is also extremely important while you are going through a family breakup. As tempting as it may be to order take-away so save the time and energy of cooking a meal, don’t get into the habit. Instead, focus on three balanced meals a day, healthy snacks, plenty of water and limited alcohol. Staying healthy on the food-front can cut levels of stress hormones, strengthen your immune system and lower blood pressure.

5. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR EX

It is understandable that you may want to run a mile from your ex-partner and never see them again, but if you are planning to co-parent, this is not an option. In fact, now is the time to rebuild the relationship with your ex but in a different way which will allow you to successfully communicate and co-parent for the benefit of your children. This may be hard but smoothing the way for open communication will benefit everyone.

6. STAY CHILD FOCUSSED

Agreeing on property settlement and childcare is emotionally and mentally draining. The sooner they are agreed upon, the better. Instead, stay child focussed with all the decisions you have to make with your ex-partner – big and small. This will keep you both on the same page, speed up the separation and give you common ground to co-parent to the best of your abilities.

7. LETTING GO

Similar to acceptance, letting go is a crucial part of the new you that will emerge from your separation. Whilst it’s healthy to remember your married life, it is also important to learn from it. There may be things you desperately miss and you want to turn back the clock at times. However, you will have separated for a reason so focus on this and let go of anything holding you back from being the best version of yourself.

8. MONEY MANAGEMENT

Money is one of the biggest worries during and after a separation or divorce. Once the asset pool has been split, there may be little left to start over leaving you feeling stressed and concerned for the future. For this reason, getting on top of your financial situation is imperative. You can do this by building a new budget, creating a savings plan or getting help from a financial advisor.

9. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Even if you have never practiced gratitude before, now is the time. And it is simple. Once a day – perhaps first thing in the morning or last thing at night – recognise one aspect of your life that you are grateful for. Health, kids, happiness, a friend, your home. This is also a handy tool if you are feeling down. There is always something to be thankful for and focussing on it creates a positive, healthy mindset.

10. THINK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

If you are a social media fan it pays to think about how you will use it over the coming months. Are you still friends with your ex-partner and mutual acquaintances on Facebook? If so, you might want to consider unfriending them or taking a social media break. Don’t spend time agonising over whether it’s ok to unfriend people – they will understand and you need to put yourself first.

11. PERSONAL GROWTH

Personal growth might be the last thing on your mind as you navigate your separation, but this is actually a great time to put ideas into action. You are on a new path in life and only you can decide what this will bring. Consider your work, financial and personal goals then set them in motion. Many people have their biggest spurts of self-development during and straight after a divorce.

12. LEARN TO MEDITATE

Learning to meditate is a useful tool for your separation tool box, and the best bit is that it only takes about ten minutes a day. Meditation can be used for relaxation, to focus your attention and to eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that crowd your mind and cause stress during divorce. Guided meditation is easily accessible through online apps such as Headspace and Calm.

13. HUNT DOWN RESOURCES

It is important to remember that you are not alone in your separation journey. There are many people who have ‘been there, done that’ and have provided wonderful resources to support you. Online you will find various blogs and social media groups to learn and connect. There are also plenty of great books that will help both you and your children to understand and better navigate the separation journey.

14. GIVE YOURSELF TIME

According to Psychology Today there are seven stages of grief in a relationship breakup. They are:

  • Desperate for answers
  • Denial
  • Bargaining
  • Relapse
  • Anger
  • Acceptance
  • Redirected hope

You will need to experience and work through each stage and this is going to take time. Don’t expect to run before you can walk. Give yourself the time you need to work through your breakup.

15. KEEP TALKING TO YOUR KIDS

How your kids cope with their parent’s breakup is really important, both for them and for you. All children are different and need different levels of support. Keep your children in the loop and talk to them in an appropriate manner about your separation. Let them know what is happening next so they can prepare. Allow them to ask questions and explain it is understandable to be sad. Most importantly, ensure they are safe in the knowledge that the separation is not their fault and that both parents still love them just as much as ever.

Belinda Eldridge
Posted by Belinda Eldridge
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