Separations are, mentally, an incredibly strenuous time, that can really take their toll on your wellbeing. It might be hard at first to admit that you need a little help. However, in order to best care for your child, one of the most important things that you can do is to also take care of your own emotions.
By recognising the things that you might be finding challenging, the ways that you are gradually overcoming these difficulties, and what makes you feel positive each day, this awareness and knowledge of yourself will, in turn, enable you to provide a far better level of support for your child.
It’s key that you try to understand how your emotions (the full spectrum of sadness through to blind rage) will affect your behaviour, and so how they can best be kept under control.
Divorce is, you won’t be surprised to hear, one of the most stressful experiences that people go through in their lives, for both the separating couple and their family. So taking the steps to minimise this fallout, by taking better care of yourself, can only be a good thing for your child.
This slightly less selfless approach to parenting amidst a separation will be covered in more detail below, along with some great takeaway tips that you can easily apply to your own daily routine.
It is our hope that the advice and ideas in this article will help you to garner your inner strength, and continue to provide the best form of support to your child amidst this turbulent time.
While it’s important for you to recognise that this is a perfectly normal part of getting over the separation, it’s also key that you try to avoid these more extreme emotions translating themselves into direct attacks at your ex. For the sake of good co-parenting, try your best to separate on fair terms that you mutually agree on, in order to minimise those feelings.
If you’re increasingly tempted to lash out at your ex, try to remember that it takes two to tango. By accepting your responsibility in this break up, you will be providing yourself with greater agency and control over this situation, and so will be putting yourself in a better position to let go of these negative emotions. Plus, you’ll be able to establish a successful co-parenting dynamic far quicker this way.
Separations are an incredibly chaotic, turbulent period, messing up both your emotions and regular life, all in one. So, the best way to tackle this disruption is by focusing on the basic, smaller things first, then working your way up.
Start out by trying to go to sleep at a regular (healthy!) time, and by having set times for healthy, nutritious meals. From there, you can work your way up to restore the larger elements of life that you feel have been uprooted. By implementing a structured daily schedule into your life, you can cope better with the emotional turbulence of the period, as your life remains predictable and manageable.
Clear, consistent routines are also a key way that you can help your child to navigate this challenging separation period, too. Funnily enough, the things that we’ve listed in this point to help you, are also great techniques to help support your child.
As we mentioned above, the number one point to make here is to ensure that you’re eating well and getting plenty of sleep – it sounds small, but it will make a world of difference.
It might sound strange to dedicate some time and energy to focusing on yourself, in order to indirectly provide the best support for your child, but weaving these little bits of self-care into your day will help stop the whole separation feeling overwhelming and re-strengthen your nerve and optimism, which will readily translate into a strong, consistent support for your child.
Another self-care staple is, quite simply, taking some time to unwind. Reconnect with your hobbies, whether that’s a treat-yourself evening at home, walking, going for a meal with your mates, swimming, painting, golf – crucially, whatever you want to do. Switch off your phone, avoid social media, and just dedicate a bit of time to chilling out.
It’s so important that you don’t bottle all these things up, or feel like you have to deal with everything on your own. Open up to your friends and family, and they will be able to provide you with a fantastic amount of support.
Talking about how you’re feeling helps you to process these emotions and lighten your burden – so don’t be afraid to pour your heart out to someone you trust, it’ll make you feel so much better in the long run.
If you feel like you’re really struggling to open up to your loved ones, consider joining a support group, contacting an organisation like Samaritans, or, if you feel like it would be beneficial, seeing a therapist can help you through these difficulties.
Just make sure that, when you are speaking about these difficult feelings, make sure your child can’t overhear (or worst of all, be a part of) the conversation. They shouldn’t be put in a position where they have to hear you badmouth your ex, because it’s important that they can still have a healthy relationship with their other parent.
In fact, talking to your loved ones about these feelings will not only provide you with the support that you need, but it will also help renew your strength, to co-parent alongside your ex in a mature, rational way – after you have outlet all of these emotions that you had been battling with. Surround yourself with your loved ones and remember that, as you go through this period, you’re never alone.
Don’t try and suppress your negative feelings – the best thing that you can do is acknowledge and take care of yourself during the difficult spells, and then be proud of yourself for coping with them.
Give yourself a break, too – you might be used to trying to push yourself at work or constantly trying to achieve the best in your life, but now is a time to ease those pressures that you enact on yourself, in order to help yourself heal.
Consciously praise yourself for your strength, endurance and bravery. Also, remember to appreciate how admirable and strong you are as a parent – you are working to provide the very best for your child, even amidst all of these difficulties.
As you navigate this extraordinarily challenging time, keep bringing it back to a focus on the bigger picture – you will soon feel better, and this pain will not last forever. Allow yourself to feel rubbish at points for now, but work towards a future that is far happier.
By employing these tips to help your own mindset, you can keep the emotional well-being of your child at the forefront of your mind. As you gradually feel better, you are actively putting yourself in a better position to care for your child, and can then make this transition period as easy for them as possible. You can hugely help your child by providing them with a reassuring, stable, joyful presence, who they can lean on if they are ever struggling.
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