divorce

4 REASONS WHY ROUTINE IS KEY AFTER SEPARATION

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Routine with kids can be hard to maintain at the best of times, add two homes into the mix and it can get really tricky!  Here are four reasons why establishing a solid routine post separation might be the key to keeping the kids happy and healthy:

1.       CONSISTENCY AND STRUCTURE 

Having a routine in your household gives consistency and structure in your child’s life especially in times of change. When change is occurring routines can change very quickly but if you have a strong routine in place this offers some stability. It is also important to try and make sure the main parts of your routine at both houses are similar. These could be meal times, bath times and bed. This won’t always happen, so you must be open to flexibility but keeping them as similar as possible will help your child settle and have structure in-between both houses.

2.       FAMILY TRADITIONS

Having a family routine creates moments to bond with your kids and gives opportunities to create new traditions.  A common example is the bedtime story, no matter how chaotic the day was, it’s a moment to bond at the end of the day. Special occasions can also be weaved into the weekly routine such as seeing a movie or going out to get ice cream. In our house we go to the park after school every Friday, the kids know this and look forward to it.

3.       CONFIDENCE AND INDEPENDENCE 

Giving your kids a routine helps them build independence and confidence. Slowly introducing more chores around the house to your kids gives them more daily and weekly responsibilities. These responsibilities help your kids develop more independence around their house that translate into their daily lives and helps build confidence in their abilities to complete tasks.

4.       GOOD HABITS

Creating a routine is an opportunity to implement good habits into your kid’s daily life such as making their bed, putting their lunches in their school bag or doing their homework at a particular time. These are good habits to get your children into, so they hopefully continue them throughout their schooling or use these structures to create their own routines once they get older.  Using the ‘First this then that’ strategy is a great way to show your kids how FIRST we have to have our bath or tidy up and THEN we can read that book or then we can go to the park.

No Family is the same and creating a good routine doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience and trial and error to see what works best for your family. What can you implement this week into your routine to make life easier?

5 tips to make back to school less stressful

It’s that time of year again, its back to school time! If you are anything like us, you are secretly relieved because the kids are starting to truly drive you bonkers! At the same time you are a bit (read A LOT) panicked because you have once again left everything to the last minute and are making a mad rush to get everything organized - uniforms, lunchboxes, ballet, soccer, basketball…..all that fun stuff!

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What about if you are separated? It can add an extra layer of stress. Here are our tips for separated or divorced parents to co-parent during the back to school rush.

 

1.       Make a plan for the first day of school

In an ideal world both parents would attend drop off on the first day of school. However, this is just not realistic, even when parents are still together. What works for some families, is to facetime or skype the other parents before heading off to school. Another idea is to take a photo of your child at the school and send it to your co-parent. It can be tricky when there is high conflict with your co-parent, but trust us, your kids will appreciate both parents being involved in this milestone.

2.       Communication is the key

We find the most overwhelming part of the school year is remembering all the special dates and events. This becomes even more stressful if you feel like you have to constantly remind your co-parent- nothing is more frustrating! Take this opportunity in the new year to relieve yourself of this burden. Each year the school releases a calendar of important events, grab this calendar and enter the dates into a shared calendar or a co-parenting communication app like Divvito (www.divvito.com) . During the year you can keep adding excursions, parent teachers interview, school concerts etc to the calendar.

3.       Avoid Backpack dramas

As children of divorced parents, we remember the irritation of the backpack we needed to pack while we divided our time between two homes. Your kids might similarly complain about the backpack, and sometimes they might even be embarrassed. Try lighten the load for your kids by having important belongings at both homes. Some families also speak to the teacher and make sure there is an extra bag space for their child.

4.       Keep the School in the loop

If you are recently separated, make sure to tell the school ASAP. Trust us, you are not the first parents of the school to separate, they will understand and will be well equipped to help your child navigate through this change in their life. Make sure both parents receive school newsletters, reports and bulletins. Nowadays most school have online portals too, and both parents should have separate logins. If you see your child is struggling, reach out to the school and teacher, they might need a bit of leeway and that’s OK!

5.       Dreaded homework

Getting your kids to do their homework is hard enough! Putting two different homes into the mix can make it even more stressful. The key is to make sure both parents are on the same page. Have a chat with your co-parent and discuss what your expectations are when it comes to homework. Ideally, you want your child in a routine which is carried through both households, consider if they need to do homework on set days of the week? Sit at their desk or the kitchen table? Do homework before dinner?

 

Every family is different and only you know what will be best for your family and your child! Whatever routines you choose to put in place this year…make sure you enjoy that first latte in peace on Tuesday morning! You’ve got this!

How to minimise the effect of divorce on your kids

In this Podcast with Lucy Good from Beanstalk we discuss:

  • How experience has led Dani and Jacque to where they are today helping others

  • The most common mistakes during separation that can negatively impact children

  • How these mistakes can be avoided

  • How much do children need to 'know' during divorce

  • What children can actually learn from a divorce

  • What resources are available for kids to help them with a divorce

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7 top tips for minimising stress over the holidays

The holiday season is almost upon us. Whilst this can be a very exciting and magical time of the year, for many, the mere thought of Christmas leads to anxiety and stress. As soon as the supermarkets start playing jingle bells on repeat, the excitement mounts but so too does the pressure. 

So, is it possible to get through the silly season without becoming a complete and utter mess? We think so. 

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Here are our top 7 tips for making it through the festivities and coming out the other side (relatively) unscathed:

1. Manage your budget

Christmas can be an incredibly expensive time of the year. Overspending can bring unnecessary financial stress, so set a realistic budget that you can stick to. 

When it comes to buying gifts, You’ll find it is much easier to stay on budget if you’re organised. Write a list before visiting the shops. This will help avoid impulse buys which almost always lead to overspending. You might also consider a Kris Kringle arrangement amongst adult members of your family, with a maximum spend that suits your budget.

Don’t forget to set a budget for family functions as well. Try not to over-cater and remember you don’t always have to be a traditionalist. If turkey is outside your budget, that’s ok, be creative!

 

2. Prioritise ‘me’ time

Over the holidays we tend to spend more time socialising with family and friends. Enjoy being social, but don’t forget about much needed ‘me’ time. Something as simple as going for a walk can be just enough to ensure you’re taking time out for you.

Don’t be afraid to enrol the kids in a holiday program or arrange a play date or two over the school break so you can really concentrate on yourself!

 

3. Stick to your routine

Life can get so busy over the holiday period that your usual routine can suffer, a lot. Try to prioritise the important things, like your daily exercise or weekly book club. Don’t feel you have to accept every invitation you receive or say yes to every request. Know when to say no.

There is only so much you can commit to and knocking a few events or requests for freshly baked cookies off the list in favour of the things that are really important to you, is ok.

Maintaining everyday routine over the holiday period can help keep you calm and relieve stress during those busy times.

 

4. Plan, plan, plan!

It can be tricky when kids have more than one family to spend time with over the holidays. Make sure you plan well in advance so the kids know who they are spending each significant day with. Try alternating each year so that no one misses out. Planning is key. Everyone will be much happier and more calm when they know there’s a plan!

 

5. Relieve the pressure- ask for help

If you’ve volunteered to host Christmas Day, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Share the work-load by asking each adult to bring a dish. People enjoy contributing and you will end up with a  lot less pressure, and a wonderful communal meal.

 

6. Pick your battles

The holiday season can put a lot of strain on relationships. You’re likely to be spending more time with family members than you would ordinarily, and they’re probably going to get on your nerves. So, pick your battles. 

Don’t get caught up in pointless disagreements about things that don’t really matter. If you need to, remove yourself from the table, take a deep breath and move on.

 

7. Don’t forget to have fun

The holiday season can be fun, you just need to remember to do what feels right for you. The truth is, you can’t do everything. So, take the pressure off yourself and enjoy.