Separation/Divorce throws you into varying different directions in your life. This event in your life may have you playing both mum/dad when your ex is not around during your care period for any kids from your relationship. You are in a role that now needs to be engaged in full, at least for the portion of time during “YOUR” time with the kids.
Whilst I cannot say that I am a “dad”, my recent interactions with dads that are separating suggests a need to suggest practical tips that dads can adopt or at least consider during the early days post separation.
If you are a dad to a teen, Davina a teen coach listed in our directory suggests :“Be dad to your teen. There is no need to try to take on the role of mum and dad – just be you. Keep things as normal as possible for your teen, while acknowledging any difficulties they might be having with the separation. Do this by validating their experience. But at the end of the day, they just want their dad to be ‘normal’ and to not try too hard”.
Tips you need to know (from well meaning mum’s):
Watching my ex, manoeuvre and make mistakes (let’s just say there were quite a few) during our separation and hearing the challenges experienced by our TRIBE has inspired the following suggestions! The following tips are ways to help you transition you and your kids, in your NEW home that may make the ride a little less bumpy.
Tip 1: Prep, Prep, Prep!
Preparation is key (avoid doing chores (unless they included the kids)!
Planning ahead and preparing your new home prior to the kids arriving to spend time with you will allow you to have more quality time with them. Consider buying the groceries, and stocking the cupboard with favourite snacks to help them feel more at “home”. This will also tell your kids that you considered what they like and prepared thoughtfully to make their time with you a little more comfortable.
Setting up their new room with photos that were moments that were shared together, definitely helped my kids. If you are able to accommodate a photo of the other parent in your kids’ room, this may also help the kids feel a little better when they miss the other parent (obviously this may not suit every situation but if you can overcome this “minor” hurdle, it may help your little ones!).
- Plan ahead
- Setup Photos in their bedroom
- Shop for favourite snacks!
Tip 2: Talk to Other Dads/M.A.D’s (mum and dad’s)
Find other dads to talk to and to share tips with. Perhaps other separated dads at your work? Or perhaps in online groups such as ours. This will not only allow you to explore ways others are doing the single parenting hustle but will also help you make friends!
Tip 3: Devices AWAY!
Put away your phones/devices. If you are like many dads, and you care for your kids every second week/weekend, then quality time is vital. Putting away your devices and engaging in direct conversation or activities will really help the kids leave feeling like they have spent quality time with you. Seeing you on the phone “working” or “chatting to new friends” may leave your kids feeling deflated and unimportant.
Kim a child psychologist (in our directory) suggests: “Separating parents can get stuck on the idea of being “fun”, thinking their children need stimulation and enjoyment over this time. What they really need is YOU. Being with your child, doing the things they like (such as playing at the park, or reading books), and connecting, will give them many positive messages about your relationship with them, their importance to you, and give them a sense of safety. It’s not about doing things; it’s about being with.”
- Disconnect devices (at least for a part of the time that you spend with the kids)
Tip 4: Learn NEW skills!
Gentleman, if you have young daughters, you may find yourself being asked to help tie their hair or to buy hair spray for crazy hair day at school (found in most $2 shops)! I am not trying to show my vintage here, however simply arming yourself with new skills pretty quickly via the following resources may help you.
- YouTube : Here is a randomly selected tutorial that explains tying hair
- Purchase a hair detangler and spray through towel dried hair clean hair. The detangler helps separate knotty hair! Here is a recent article in Kidspot that may help you choose. Detangler can be purchased from your grocery store or local hair salon.
- Ben (dad to a daughter 8 years old) suggests “Consider getting daughters to use Towel wraps”. For those of you who DO NOT know what these are, here is a sample and Woolworths has them. Towel wraps are used to dry hair for your daughters or perhaps sons with long hair!?!
Tip 5: Cook AHEAD!
Consider cooking ahead before the kids arrived. This will prevent you ordering take away or being overwhelmed trying to do it all when the kids are at your place. Cooking together should also be considered if your kids are a little older. This allows you to spend time with your kids whilst teaching them great skills to look after themselves. This activity is one I have always used as “connect” time with my own kids. Some dads are great at cooking, but for the ones that may need help, these may help you.
Tip 6: Setup Activities
The activities do not need to be expensive. This action helps the kids get excited when they come to spend time with you and also gives them memories to carry with them. This is SO, SO much better than allowing the kids to be entranced by their devices.
- Go to the park
- Bowling is always fun and appeals to ALL ages
- Trees adventure was a great activity for ALL, and my kids LOVED it!
- There are so many FREE/Paid activities and a great resource I have recently found is whatson4kids ( I have not tried this site before however, scanning through the site I see loads of great suggestions.
Tip 7: Routine, Routine
Setting up a regular routine benefits the kids and yourself as you then have predictable periods of time. The usual homework, showers, dinner/bath and story time really does work! (Least it did for many dads that I have spoken to that have been through the same thing. It would be even more helpful to align yourself to the same or at least similar routine to one that is followed by your ex. This really helped my children be a little more “settled”. Consistency, consistency. This will not work for some situations though!
Reading to the kids in bed is loved by most young kids. This is an oldie but a goody. Reading to kids in bed has so many benefits. Even better yet, take turns reading to each other. This is a great bedtime routine for young – pre teens. It gives your quality time together!
Here are a few books that may help set the “situation” for kids.
- Mum and Dad Glue, By Kes Gray – A book for younger kids. The book is about a boy who tries to glue his mum and dad together because they are separating
- Two homes, by Claire Masurel- My kids used this one. It talks about the positives gained from having 2 homes to go to.
- The suitcase kid, by Jacquline Wilson – This is about a little girl who has to spend one week with mum and the other with dad and his new partner.
Tip 8: Arm yourself with Support!
In an ideal situation these issues/topics can be resolved as a partnership with both parents together. Today, however the ideal is becoming less “common” and we find ourselves having to navigate certain situations! Enjoy taking on the role of a “M.A.D” (Mum and Dad) either part time or full time!
Finding a tribe to navigate through this volatile time has been imperative during my separation. You can find others separating in an awesome private group!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is general information only and is not provided as a substitute for legal/professional advice. If you have a legal/financial/ any other issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or professional before making a decision about your options or personal situation. TheSeparationExchange.com cannot provide legal/professional advice.
ABOUT the Blogger:
My name is Anju, after going through a “surprise” separation and divorce was a rebirth which awakened me!
After a period of sadness and struggle, revealed a person who was forced to sort her shi# out and find the strength needed to raise 2 young kids without a partner!
And so, a new journey began with new dreams: www.TheSeparationExchange.com
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