10 Tips to Have the Best Fresh Start Possible After Divorce
There are times in our lives when change is generally welcomed: Going off to college. The start of a new relationship. Marriage. The birth of a baby. In those circumstances, the benefits of change seem to usually outweigh the negatives.
But breakups, separations, and divorces are not such a positive experience. Suddenly, the life you had planned out for yourself has come to a dead-end, and now you are faced with a world of uncertainties.
For anyone who has become a single or divorced mom, you probably know what I am talking about.
A million questions plaque you:
How will you pay the bills?
How can you do the work of two people when there is just one of you?
Will you ever find love again?
Are your kids going to be okay?
Are you ever going to be able to see your ex without wanting to cry or scream (or both)?
Will you be okay?
What is life going to look like for you in five years? One year? 6 months from now?
It is utterly and completely terrifying.
But what if you look at change as a good thing?
Yes, you can mourn your relationship, especially if you were not the one to choose to end it, but don’t just sit there in the depths of despair and loss. Put your chin up and make the most of this new start.
How can you do this?
1. Make a List of Your Blessings
I don’t care how dire your situation is, you have something to be thankful for. In fact, you probably have many things. Write them down. Put them somewhere that you will see them. When you feel yourself starting to despair, pick up the list and read those blessings again.
2. Work on Building a Positive Co-Parenting Relationship with Your Child’s Father
This is for your child and for your peace of mind. No, it is not always possible, but the less drama in your life, the better. That means, don’t let yourself get riled up when he makes you mad. Don’t look for reasons to fight.
3. Gain Control of Your Finances
I never paid as much attention to my finances as I did when I was first on my own, with my small little income (even with my child support, it was so much less than I was used to). For the first time since I was 23 years old, I had to pay my own bills. I learned to shop sales, coupon (though I’m admittedly not the best at this), cook healthy but cheap meals, etc. I started to budget and keep tabs on my credit. Yes, it is more stressful to be in charge of the finances myself, but it has also been liberating. If you are looking for sound financial advice from a fellow Single Mom, I suggest you check out WEALTHY SINGLE MOMMY. Another great place to start would be Dave Ramsey. You can find local classes or you can do it online Here.
4. Volunteer/Help Those in Need
One of the best ways to find joy in a time of grief and sadness is to focus on helping others. You could volunteer at church or at a charity organization, sponsor a child at Christmas (if your funds allow), collect items to make care packages for the homeless, etc. Whatever need in the community that you are passionate about, find a way to work to fill it.
5. Sketch Out Who You Want To Be:
This is a new chapter of your life. There may be things that you wanted out of your life that you couldn’t pursue when you were married. Maybe your ex made fun of you when you mentioned something you were interested in trying, or maybe you just didn’t have the time to devote to your passion while you were a full-time wife and mother. This is a fresh start in many ways. Who do you want to be in five years? Write it down and find activities/classes/etc to get you there.
6. Make New Friends
This is a new venture, and your life has changed. Some of your friendships will probably stay the same, or grow closer. Many will change or cease to exist. Your former relationship did not exist in a black hole, and others will have reactions to your split. Some may rally for you. Some may rally for your ex. (It would be in everyone’s best interest if you would try to be positive about your ex so as not to put anyone in the middle, but some may still choose a side). Some will just feel uncomfortable with how different your life is now, and they may shy away. No matter how many friendships you retain post-split, it would be helpful to make friends who are just yours and who are hopefully in a similar situation. After all, it is much more helpful to date and navigate this new life as a single parent when you have someone to share it with.
7. Have Fun With Your Kids
This whole thing is new to them too, and it’s probably been stressful for them. If you used to be a Stay at Home Mom and then went back to work, they may see you less. They may have had to move from their former home. Look for ways to engage them when you are with them. If you have moved, look for exciting and unique parts in the new area. Go exploring. Hit up a playground. Put down your phone. If you’re exhausted, cuddle up and watch a movie. Make the most of the time you have with your kids, since you are likely splitting it with their other parent.
8. Make New Traditions
This is not just for holidays (although you should definitely come up with some fun new traditions for every holiday that rolls around). One of the traditions we started once I was separated, was that every night the kids were with me, we try to eat dinner all together at the table as a family. Extracurricular activities can sometimes mess that up a bit as my kids get older, but we try our best! While we are at dinner, we take turns discussing our “highs” and “lows” (the best and worst parts of our day). Another tradition we began was to have date nights. I aim to have one date night per kid per week, although sometimes we miss a week here or there. While my oldest is at dance, my youngest and I go out for ice cream or a cupcake and vice/versa. The kids love that one-on-one time with mom that they get less of now that I am the only parent they see the majority of the time.
9. Try Dating When You Are Ready
Don’t go in with high expectations, but have some fun with it. I was terrified to start dating again, and while at times it can be exhausting and stressful, it’s also fun and exciting. Just be smart…don’t bring someone you are dating around your kids too early and try to make good choices. One of the best things about being out of a relationship that was not good or healthy is having the freedom to pursue a new one with someone else.
10. Do Adult Things Spend time with your children when they are with you and make the most of it, but do some things for you too! NOT just dating. In fact, do these things before you go on your first date: Sign up for a new book or wine club, Bible study group, recreation league, etc. Find out who YOU are. Pamper yourself with a spa day if you can afford it or have a DIY spa day with a good book, a glass of wine, and a bubble bath at home. Go on a walk or run by yourself. Join a gym if you have the time/money/childcare. Try new things that you were scared to do before. Going out and socializing at night with friends is great and an awesome way to make new friends and potential dates, but moderation is key. You likely have at minimum every other weekend all to yourself while your children are with their dad, so use this time as time to grow and figure out YOU.
Yes, it is change. So. Much. Change. No, it isn’t fun, but there are positives in your situation, no matter what it may be.
Focus on those positives and live your best life as a single mom.
You owe it to your kids, and you owe it to you.