Kids of divorced parents essentially have two homes and it is the kids, NOT us, who are on the move, packing, repacking and sleeping in different beds. Generally, we parents aren't the ones changing homes each week or month, it is our kids. So how can we best help them?
We hear stories of parents who stop half way down the street, their kids having to walk the final 30m of shame to their other parent's house... because these two adults couldn't face each other. The stony-faced, rushed and humiliating handovers in service stations or grandparents being meditators? Divorcees, we need to shape up! Are these not the sort of 'handovers' that make us recoil, feeling the shame and guilt inside that we couldn't try a little harder to be kinder to our Ex for our kid's sakes?
What I know is this, working together as divorced parents is so worth the looks of love and unbridled excitement clearly visible on kid's faces as soon as they see their Dad or Mum. What a gift out of all the pain to know that handover time can be easier, more co-operative and kinder? How good does it feel when handovers are uncomplicated, simple and compassionate? Do you know how this feels?
An easier said than done reality for many couples I hear you shout. Work is needed with drop offs, they are big, impactful moments of emotion around children, and happen regularly. I am not here to judge others mean's and ways of managing their children's drop off', however, what I do feel is that it is the children left shouldering our adult life bags of "stuff" during bad handovers, and really is this what we all really want?
So I wanted to share 5 ways for happier kids handovers.
#1 GETTING THE PARENTS ORGANISED
One of the biggest stressors for kids is not knowing what is happening and when. Not everyone is an organisational wizard, so for the children's sake try to help your Ex get organised by supporting them with helpful, not condescending suggestions. For happier handovers, give yourself permission to let go of the frustrations you had when you were married. Try to be a little flexible with your thoughts. Perhaps gift your ex - nicely, a kid's visit diary or if you are tech minded - set up an electronic diary or calendar and show them how to use it - be helpful! And use it! Help each other to help future handovers be happier.
#2 GETTING THE KIDS ORGANISED
Get your kids ready and be on time! Helping your kids as much as possible learn valuable life skills like getting themselves organised. Do whatever is possible to have your kids feel happier that they are going to see their other parent; take favourite toys; snuggle blankets; school uniform; swim gear and have the majority of it packed ready to go. Be on time! Kids worry if they've forgotten stuff, or if they haven't packed yet... help them, encourage them and lovingly support them... oh and did I say... BE ON TIME?
#3 YOU CAN'T ORGANISE YOUR EX
Aaaahhhh the frustrations and the lack of control... yes! Ex's can be difficult, they have bad days, no sleep nights, they feel ill, they are angry... you can't change this and some days you just have to choose your battles, let it go... Handovers are not about you or your Ex, they are about your kids. Kindness, respect and understanding for your own peace of mind, and for your kids ... and just maybe, it can be as simple as taking a deep breath and letting go of any outcome... letting the inner control freakery take a holiday...
#4 HOWEVER YOU CAN ORGANISE YOURSELF
Begin with you, get yourself in order. Check in with your own stress barometer as to how you are feeling? You'll find the stress somewhere in your body, believe me, your body will be hunching, clenching or aching somewhere. Find your calm mojo before the handover, meditate, breathe deeply, rediscover your inner cool... don't be tempted to drink coffee, alcohol or ramp up negative energies with a bitching session beforehand with a friend or your mum. Look after and nurture yourself, helps you feel calmer and this can only be good for everyone.
#5 HAPPIER HANDOVERS
Be smiley, smiling helps us feel better! Not the comedic, grit your teeth, frozen face smiles but genuine, warm and soft smiles. Truly wish your gorgeous children a wonderful weekend with their Dad or Mum, gift them your smile so they can relax knowing that it will be okay. Take a moment to ask yourself, how you felt after a smiley goodbye? Was your gorgeous aching heart beating a little easier? Is your life not worth more of this gentle, kind and compassionate stuff? Is being a BIGGER person with your Ex in front of your kids really that hard?
Life is too short to have us all sad over weekends with our behaviour at handover, the school and working week too stressful to be loaded with anger and pain in families - divorced or otherwise.
Easing up on ourselves and letting go of 'fight club' at handover is a whole load better, gentler and happier for everyone. And our children's lives can only benefit from it...
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