Five Tips for a Healthy Mindset for Divorced Parents as Their Children Start a New School Year
By Katie Wenger
The return to school is exciting, fresh, and new but can also bring out concerns about the upcoming school year for parents and their children. It is also a year where we anticipate the continuation of the norm as schools address pandemic-related issues. To further compound things, if you are a parent going through a divorce or already navigating parenthood as a divorce, there can be additional anxieties or worries happening internally for you. Perhaps this has to do with co-parenting, accepting the reality of divorce for you and your child(ren), or navigating the logistics of the school year within separation or divorce. It can feel overwhelming.
It’s essential to take time to be mindful of how you are handling decisions and other things relating to your children. What are you feeling? What may be causing this? What are the thoughts that you can do something about and which require acceptance? Are you trying to control or change things about the other parent or your child(ren)?
Here are some ways to maintain your healthy mindset as you support your children and make decisions:
1. Do not neglect taking care of your own emotions and needs. Your children do not need you to be perfect– they need you to be happy. Divorce has freed you from the unhappiness or stress of an unhealthy relationship, so do not forget to keep your mind at peace in all areas of your life. Put yourself first sometimes. You can take advantage of the time that your child is with their other parent, but there are self-prioritization opportunities you can build into the time they are with you. Finally, incorporate your children in your self-care routine (workouts, meditation, time spent outdoors), fully immerse yourself in what they enjoy and love, and let this bring you joy to either participate or witness in their lives.
2. Remember that most of what you worry about does not come to fruition – including your perceived judgment from others – people are focused on their thoughts, and if they happen to be judging you, it only affects you if you let it. Let go of self-judgment and explore and release any guilt you may have – an essential step for all of you. Additionally, you can not save your children from all pain and disappointment in life, but you can plan with them how to best manage it if it comes up. You can even look at it statistically. Very little of what you worry about will happen, if anything. Worrying saps so much of your energy and time, and it yields nothing. Ask yourself, “Is this something that I can do something about? If so, what is it? List the steps. If not, let the thought go.
3. Simplify the schedule or the compromise that you have made. Where you can simplify your life and your child’s life, you should do it. There may be times when events get missed or done differently than before, but it saves a lot of back and forth driving and movement for you and your child. Try to consolidate classes and activities. Do your best to stick to the custody schedule for your and the children’s routine. Predictability can help you a great deal during this time.
4. Prepare for your reactions to your children’s feelings and behavior— Process your feelings in therapy, journaling, meditation, and regularly allowing for your emotional outlets. Then, allow yourself time alone or with trusted support to think about how what the children are going through causes you to feel and let these feelings out when you can. Finally, plan a time to explain your feelings and reactions in an age-appropriate way. This process will help you feel more secure and put less pressure on yourself to hold in your emotions. It will also help you avoid overthinking how you handled these situations afterward.
5. Build stress management into your household. Take this perfect time to build healthier habits. You can plan for quiet time in the family schedule and time for being present and connecting. Practice and model beneficial stress management techniques and give yourself grace for feeling and reacting to stress sometimes. Your children are learning from you how to be resilient but also a genuine human being.
Staying focused on coming out stronger on the other side can help you feel in control of your life. What you and your children are experiencing now is only part of the story. It does not define you, them, or the family. So to create a new narrative of hope and settle into the changes with a healthier mindset.
To contact Katie Wenger: 610-290-4896 Tel: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Divorce can be a time of self-discovery, growth, and excitement about the life ahead,” according to Therapist Katie Wenger. Katie’s 17 years’ experience as a Therapist has taught her that through the difficult times of separation and divorce, a deeper sense of self-love and embodiment of individuality can be found. She is excited to be working within a group of professionals that have the same mission of helping those going through a divorce and giving a comprehensive option for care and guidance as the best approach. Her personal and professional experience allow the understanding and insight to provide the care that is needed. Katie helps to establish a clear plan that fits each person’s life and divorce dynamics to set the foundation for peace and success.
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