Why "putting your children first" doesn’t mean what you think it does (i.e., get your own life after divorce)
When you are a parent going through a divorce, you have to endure the pain of ending your marriage, while doing what you can to minimize trauma to your kids. This is an uncertain time for all of you, and it can be exhausting trying to protect your children while also attending to your own self-care. After it's over, you may feel like helping you kids heal from the pain of losing their family is your only priority. While “putting your children first” can be essential in some instances, getting your own life after divorce is the healthiest choice for everyone.
Take Time for Your Needs Too
During your divorce, you may have shifted into crisis mode when it came to parenting and caring for your children. When your kids had strong reactions to this unpredictable and emotionally-jarring experience, you probably did all you could do to put on a brave face and reassure them. While being a soothing presence for your children is vital, taking care of your own emotional needs is equally important. Divorce can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. It's crucial that you devote time and energy to yourself in order to recover. If you neglect your own needs, you won’t have much left to offer your children. Taking time to heal is a vital part of being there for your kids.
Placement Time can be Your Time
After everything is done, you and your ex are still going to interact as you make decisions about your kids and share placement. As all of you adjust to this new dynamic, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of having everything in your world revolve around your children’s happiness and well-being. When you forget to concentrate on yourself, your thoughts and energy can be too focused on your kids. They can pick up on that and end up feeling as if they are responsible for your well-being. Your children are watching you and looking for reassurance that you will be okay when they are gone, and you want them to be able to leave you and not be worried about your happiness. When your children are away, this is the time that you can use to devote to yourself, your interests and building your own life.
You are Setting a Good Example
When your kids see you taking care of yourself, you are teaching them to value themselves and honor their needs. You are also sending the message they most need to hear—everything is going to be alright. Your children want both of their parents to be happy and well. When they see you not putting yourself last, they are learning about healthy boundaries and that self-care is a positive thing to have in their lives.
Moving on after divorce with children takes time, but by stepping out of crisis mode and focusing on your own needs, you can work towards achieving the balance you need in your life. Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso has experience helping clients with all aspects of divorce. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let us take a “first look” at your circumstances.