You have your bachelor pad all picked out, complete with that 65” TV that you plan to mount opposite the bed because wifey said you couldn’t for 7 years. You have the kids’ rooms decorated just like the old house…the less that changes, the better, right? After you coach basketball practice, it’s followed by pizza in the living room while you all snuggle up and watch BIG with your two Mini-Me’s. That is what being free after divorce was all about, being the Dad you always knew you could be.
Except, it’s her week with the kids and you won’t see them for days.
Here are some tips to stay victorious in the Co-Parenting game.
- One is a the loneliest number. Unless you are pro at being without your two little munchkins jumping on the bed at 6:12 am to ask for pancakes with 7, not 6 …not 8, blueberries, being alone will take time to adjust. Make sure you plan something after the kids head to their “other house”. It could be something you’ve always done, like hitting the gym. When was the last time you went to the public library and read about the Art of the Pig Roast. The bottom line is that your kids’ lives have now expanded beyond your understanding. It is time for you to try something new.
- Embrace what you have when you have it. Face it, your kids kind of run the show. Dads are awesome at standing outside in 30 degree weather to watch the kids’ football season finals or a wearing tutu to Miss Fancy Pant’s Glitter-time tea party. Now that you have time to yourself, you might find that you don’t really like the person you had been. It is time for your to dig deep, enlist your friendly neighborhood therapist and jump aboard the Introspection Train. It’s gonna be a long and trippy ride down memory lane.
- It’s not a contest. If your buddy was down $400 at a Blackjack table and reached for his credit card, you would step in and tell him it was time to talk away. Let me be that guy. Don’t compete for your children’s love. If your kids want to talk to their Mom, hand over the phone. If she has a baby on the way, double down on your investment in your kids. And remember, when you say cruel things about your ex in front of your kids, you might as well be running their self-worth through a meat-grinder. Try putting THAT back together.
- You had your turn. Check your license. Chances are your D.O.B. proves that you had your chance at childhood. It’s your kids’ turn now. Even if a divorce wasn’t part of you plan for them, there are a lot of amazing things you can teach them through divorce. If they argue that the rules are different at Mom’s and Dad’s? Guess what, you can’t wear a man-thong to church either. Different environments merrit different rules. When the kids ask Mom to send them to sleep-away camp and responds with “Ask your Dad to pay for it”, teach your child that anything worth having is worth working hard for and things in life aren’t free. Divorce lets you write the rules. Set up extra chores, a part-time job, something that teaches hard work and the satisfaction of meeting a goal. When your child complains to you about your ex’s new boyfriend, listen as if your child were your best friend. Sometimes they just want to vent about the things they can’t change. If you need help with this, give this a try.
- Embrace the time you DO have with your kids. A week has 168 hours. Subtract 45 for your work day, 7.5 for your commute, and 2 hours each for basketball and hip-hop classes, not to mention the 10 hours doing laundry, yard work and being short order cook to the masses. Drop another 77 because those little buggers have to sleep. And leaves your with roughly 3 hours a day to be with your kids. You can do anything for 3 hours, make every second count. You will get to know how neat your children really are.
When your kids see you are happy and settled in your new life, they will be happy and settled. You’ve got this, my friend. You’ve got this.