One of the first rules of parenting is that you have to meet your own basic needs if you want to really be present for your children. It can be hard enough to make time for yourself when you share a home with the other parent. When you separate, that leaves everything on one parent.
Although you may share custody with your ex, during your parenting time, you are responsible for every single thing the children need. That kind of stress can start to affect you personally and may even impact your relationship with the children.
Prioritizing taking care of yourself throughout the divorce will make it easier for you to be a good parent.
Make some time for yourself
Maybe you need to bump up your children’s bedtime by half an hour so that you can enjoy a chapter of a book or an episode of a TV show every night before you start getting ready for bed yourself. Maybe you need to arrange for your neighbor or your parents to watch the children one evening a week so that you can have a night out with your best friend.
Perhaps you enjoy some kind of creative pursuit, like playing an instrument, writing or painting. Making sure to give yourself time and space for creativity can make processing all of the feelings and stress from divorce a little easier.
Find little ways to be kind to yourself each day
Many people associate self-care with frivolous spending. You don’t need to throw down hundreds of dollars for a lavish spa day to take care of yourself.
Creating a checklist of basic things you need to do every day and then making sure you have time for all of those activities can be an important way of taking care of yourself. Maybe you don’t finish the cupcakes for the school bake sale and have to buy them from the grocery store, but you should not have to sacrifice your sleep or your daily exercise to take on numerous outside obligations.
Recognize that you might need some professional help
Divorce can traumatize you even if you and your ex try to keep things civil. If they cheated on you or emptied your bank account before effectively abandoning you, you may have some personal issues you need to work through.
Professional therapy or counseling can help you make sense of your feelings then find appropriate ways to express them. A professional can also give you insight into ways that you could better support your children, who absolutely need your love and support during this process.
Taking care of yourself throughout your pending divorce will make it easier for you to show up for your children.