6 Challenges You’ll Face As a Divorced Mom & How To Overcome Them
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By Rachel Eddins, Guest Author - July 25, 2017

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Every day, since your divorce decree was finalized, you've realized a bit more the significant challenges that lie ahead as a divorced mom.

And it’s kind of scary.

But that’s alright. That’s normal. And you are going to make it.

Let’s take a look at the challenges you’ll face as a divorced mom and what it will take to survive and thrive.

1. Guilt and Inadequacy

Second-guessing yourself can paralyze you and effectively upend your ability to adjust to your new life. Breathe. Negative thinking and demoralizing self-talk can keep you from the freedom you struggled for in the first place.

Believe in yourself and show the kids how you’ll all move forward. Not sure how to do that? 

Strategy for overcoming:

Grieve. Feel the loss. Appreciate that guilt and uncertainty are part of the pain. Accept the process and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Initiate supportive relationships. Social media advice and the semi-availability of your married friends may not be enough right now. A therapist and understanding, non-judgmental loved ones can be the steady forces you need right now.

Forgive yourself. Unfriend all the people and habits that impede your progress. Self-care and self-forgiveness are vital now. You’re doing the best you can. You are enough and you are up to this task. Believe it.

Thank God, the universe, the circumstances. Whoever you wish to thank, do so daily. Gratitude has a lovely way of shaping perspective during challenging times.

2. Financial Shifts

A single mom is a mom who likely has an intimate relationship with money--she worries about it, thinks about it, and often seeks it out in a variety of ways to stay afloat or ensure the care of her kids.

Are you working hard without a working knowledge of how money works best for you

Strategy for overcoming:

Keep financial goals in mind. It’s easy to feel like divorce nullifies your financial dreams. Combat that thinking with an amended plan for reaching your goals.

Neutralize any tendency to neglect your financial well-being. Stay on top of your spending, savings, credit, and retirement benefits. Talk to a financial planner. A little preemptive planning and a sound budget can save you a lot of stress.

Organize your home, work, and children as best you can. So much money is wasted replacing things we can’t find, eating out because we didn't make time for meal prep, or buying impulsively because we feel out of sorts. Organization often soothes the need for retail therapy.

Wire your finances for the expected and unexpected. Let's face it, as a single mom navigating life in Houston, remembering to allow for various expenses is tough. Automate as many payments as you can and set up reserve accounts for gifts, school activities, and car or house maintenance.

3. Household Maintenance Fears

Running things on the home front alone can be really hard. Perhaps you feel cluttered, out of balance, and generally irritated by the growing list of chores. This is a good time to prioritize and delegate.

Strategy for overcoming:

Write down the chore list and transfer them to a daily calendar. Spare yourself entire weekends of choring.

Opt for less stuff, less space, and less time managing it all. The keyword here: simplify.

Recruit those kids. Remind them that strong families work together. Give them age appropriate chores and reward them for willingly supporting the cause.

Keep calm and call for help. There’s a learning curve to the whole divorce process. If your ex handled home maintenance, you’ll likely have to ask for help with certain tasks. There’s no shame in that.

4. The Parenting Reboot

Will you be sharing custody equally? Are you responsible for the lion share of parenting time? Perhaps your ex isn’t involved at all.

What’s a divorced mom to do? Cope with a strategy like this one:

Strategy for overcoming:

Cooperate. Kids need parents to raise them with kindness, respect, and flexibility. This keeps life stable and moving forward as normally as possible.

Open clear channels of communication. If you both get along and can speak face to face, great. If not, email or brief respectful voicemails may be best. Refrain from sending messages through the kids.

Plan to co-parent or single parent optimally. A concrete parenting plan is extremely helpful. It may need to be amended periodically, but provides general ground rules and much-needed stability. If you’re on your own, it still helps to outline parenting goals with your therapist.

Embrace the new normal. Do your best to raise your kids positively, refrain from trying to impose your own will, and do what you can to interact respectfully. Youthful eyes are watching.

5. Your Kids’ Responses to the Divorce

The fact is, your kids will feel and react to the fracture of their family unit. It will take all your parental fortitude some days to react with grace and understanding. Seek support and model appropriate mental health care. 

Strategy for overcoming:

Practice Self-Control. Remind your children that, for you, them, and your ex, respect is the baseline. Refuse to endorse hurting other intentionally or running each other down.

Ease Tensions. This is a great chance to employ the services of a family therapist. You’re navigating new territory. There are loyalties and insecurities to work through. A trained, objective party can help navigate your wants and needs.

Ask Questions. Be curious and slow to interject. Kids deserve to be heard.

Communicate routinely and openly. Don’t assume one “divorce talk” is enough. Take the kids for ice cream on warm Houston days for a chat. Allow them to regularly express their feelings and observations.

Enjoy overcoming divorce stresses with your kids. It’s easy to think of yourself as a do it all, single mom. You’re a team. Celebrate little victories together.

6. The “Divorced mom” title

The adjustments, the sacrifices, and the trials. You may feel lost in it all. Is that all you are now--a divorced mom?

No. But you may struggle to feel like yourself. Be very intentional about seeking out the real you. Try these ideas:

Strategy for overcoming:

Find empowering ways to enjoy yourself. Do the things you’ve been wanting to try. Go the places your ex never wanted to go. Take some time routinely to get out and “do you.”

Undo the stress-induced damage to your body and mind. How? Yoga, dancing, long walks, prayer, meditation. Whatever primes your mind and muscles for living life energetically.

Narrate your new story. Consider journaling, blogging, or vlogging (video-blogging). Document your choices, the outcomes, and lessons learned. Live with curiosity and a sense of adventure.

You can overcome the overwhelm. You can be the mom you want to be and head your household well. All you need is a strategy, a wealth of self-compassion, and a few helping hands along the way. You’ve got this.

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