Are you a divorced dad that has recently gone from seeing your kids every day to now having to divide time?
Are you trying to navigate the journey of coping with your emotions as well as “alone” time after your separation?
If so, I have a few tips for you on how to live a happy, healthy, and successful life while your kids are away from your home.
How to Cope with Missing your Children: A Dad’s Perspective
I decided, after several years of my first marriage, that I was no longer interested in the constant bickering that became part of my everyday life with my children’s mother. My children deserved to be raised in a home where they could be surrounded with love and laughter, as opposed to constant arguing and disagreement, even if it meant living in two separate homes.
I will never forget the day that I decided to leave, Father’s Day…I know, out of all 365 days of the year, I chose that one. Well, rest assured it was because of my work schedule.
I remember sitting in my truck after the move, and tears began pouring down my face as I thought I had lost my kids forever.
Are you a divorced dad in a place right now where you feel the world is weighing down on you? Well, I am here to tell you that things will get better as long as you push forward!
Let’s explore my top three tips to cope with the emotional stress of missing your children when they are at the other parent’s home.
Tip 1: Make the Moments Count
The first and most important suggestion that I could offer would be to make the moments count!
I mean put down your phone! Turn off that TV! Get out there and make some memories, ones that the kids will remember as well. No one knows their children as well as you do, so you already know what they like.
Spend QUALITY time with your children.
Occasionally, I find myself slipping into a mundane routine, scrolling through social media, while they are browsing the TV guide (at 4 and 6 they can successfully operate the DVR as well… LOL!). The next day I find myself sitting in the school drop off line thinking, “What exactly did you do with them for the past two days?” This is what drives me to interact with them almost constantly when they are with me.
Quality interactions can range from playing a game, letting them help you mix the Kool-Aid, singing and dancing in the living room, to helping “fold” the towels.
There is no rule that says you must go spend money, in fact, some of my kids’ favorite things to do are free and include empty boxes!
So, are you going to WONDER tomorrow if they have any positive memories from today, or are you going to KNOW they did?
Tip #2: Focus on You!
This next tip is going to have a few variants, as it will differ from person to person depending on your situation. Focus on YOU!
Are you fresh out the relationship that caused the divided time with your children? Or, are you a divorced dad, or a seasoned veteran with a new spouse? Maybe you find yourself somewhere in the middle.
If you are new to this situation and single, it has definitely crossed your mind, “What am I going to do for the next 10 hours?!” Get out there and take some time for yourself! Go to that restaurant you always wanted to try or that movie you have been wanting to see.
It’s healthy to decompress and prepare yourself for the next set of days your kids are going to be with you. Remember some parents would kill for this alone time, so use it to your advantage.
Now, let’s say you have fallen into the same category that I am in and you have found a beautiful, intelligent, and caring woman. This is when you can really take full advantage of the time away from your children.
Let’s face it, a little time away is not always bad. If you are going to be away from them anyway, why not make the best of it?
Focus on making your new, or not-so-new, relationship a little stronger. This will benefit you in more ways than you could ever imagine.
You will first be making a strong and healthy connection between you and your significant other, but more importantly, you are laying the foundation to a successful stepfamily. When you show your significant other attention when the children are away, both of you will be more apt to spend time with the kids together.
This is what makes both of you a happy, healthy, family-oriented dynamic duo! I promise you will see great results if you put forth the effort!
Tip#3: Don’t Think about the Children
The third tip is going to seem a little harsh, but I’m not here to sugar coat this! Try not to think about the children.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Okay, now that you have had time to say, “WHAT!? Are you CRAZY!?” hear me out. I said not to THINK about them, I did not say FORGET them!
We will never forget about our children, but is it really doing you any good to sit on the couch and think about what are they doing, what are they wearing, did they eat lunch, did they take a bath? NO! The answer is no!
I will admit, it’s hard and can be downright frustrating. But if you can get over this, I promise you will see a change for the better.
If the other parent has read this masterpiece you’re reading now, then they’re out making memories and spending that quality time together, not dwelling on the uncontrollable. See, now you’re starting to think I may be right!
To recap my simple tips:
Remember to make the most out of every moment you have with your children. Push that appointment to a day they are with their mom, clear your evenings and make some fun plans. Most importantly, connect with your children. They grow up way too fast!
Next, spend some time decompressing and focusing on you! Get out there and do something productive, fun, or a guilty pleasure. This is what mentally prepares you for the next day to push forward.
Finally, don’t focus your energy on things you can’t control, and redirect that energy into the first two tips. Stay busy with other tasks that will better prepare you for the upcoming days. This is a full-circle tip, and continues to loop back around until the end of time!
Once you get into a pattern, this will become second nature and you will find yourself at the dinner table with family, friends, or your wife and realize you are in a good place.
Remember to keep pushing forward!
P.S. Looking for ways to spice up your relationship while the kids are away? Here’s a great list of free date ideas!