child discipline after divorce

Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms

child discipline after divorce

 

Child discipline in an intact family is a responsibility shared between Mom and Dad. Once there is a divorce the custodial parent will have to take on the majority of this responsibility. Non-custodial parents should remain as actively involved in child discipline as possible but it only makes sense that the parent spending more time with the child will end up doing most of the work where discipline is concerned.

It is a dirty job but someone has to do it! It is especially important that children who are struggling to cope with the changes in their family be given a structured environment to help them cope with the many changes that come along with divorce.

This is a guide for the custodial parent who may find themselves not only attempting to cope with the stress of being a single parent but also the impact of divorce on their child.

8 Tips for Child Discipline After Divorce

1. Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Workshop:

Busy children are less likely to get into or cause trouble. Keeping your child engaged in fun or productive activities will not only keep them out of trouble it will keep you focused on something other than your own problems.

My ex sees our children 4 days out of the month which leaves me to deal with any disciplinary problems that arose on all those other days. I found that life was easier for not only me but the children also if I stressed the importance of not only having fun but also being productive.

They both had after school activities to participate in that were outlets for creativity and an opportunity to relax and distress. They also had responsibilities they had to tend to once they were home for the evening. Their homework had to be done, dinner dishes had to be cleaned and they were required to do 45 minutes of reading. By bedtime, they were so tired from their “fun and productive day” they welcomed the idea of crawling between the sheets and settling down.

2. Focus on Positive Behaviors, Not Negative Behaviors:

You can sit my younger son in time out all day or, take away his favorite toy and he would turn around and misbehave…over and over again. The trick with him was to give him something he liked doing as a reward for not misbehaving.

Once I figured this out I spent a lot less time punishing him and more time praising him. For example, he loved feeding the fish and cleaning the fish tank. That was his job unless he misbehaved and to hold onto that “job” he works hard at behaving in a way that is pleasing to his Mom.

If you have a child who isn’t responding in a positive way to standard forms of discipline try rewarding him/her with a liked task in exchange for good behavior. As a parent, it is so much less stressful to be able to say, “job well done,” instead of, “to the corner young man.”

3. Set Clear and Age Appropriate Boundaries and Rules:

Don’t expect your children the respect boundaries or follow rules they are not old enough to understand or physically capable of following. I had a written contract with my elder son that outlined his responsibilities and the rewards for living up to those responsibilities.

My younger son had a chart with stars. He was awarded a star for good behavior and lost a star for bad behavior. And they both knew what I considered good and bad behavior. I was specific with them about the rules and the consequences of breaking the rules. And the consequences for my elder son were different than the ones for my younger son.

4. Be Consistent When Disciplining:

As a single parent, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and relax the rules a bit. Let’s face it, at times it is easier to just “do it yourself” than engage in the power struggle that can ensue when trying to get a child to act.

The idea behind setting rules and boundaries is to let them know who is in charge. The more you bend the rules, the less parental authority you have. Bend them enough and you will soon find yourself with no authority at all.

Being consistent requires a parent have self-discipline, it requires a lot of effort. In other words, being consistent will probably be the hardest part of disciplining your child. If you are able to remain consistent you will not only promote growth and maturity in your child but yourself also.

5. Be Quick and Concise When Disciplining Your Child:

My mother was notorious for threatening me if I misbehaved when away from home. She would shake her finger in my face and say, “when I get you home you will pay for that.” And there I would be, filled with anxiety for hours over what was going to happen once she “got me home.”

She didn’t want to make a scene in front of others but didn’t mind dumping hours of stress and fear onto me in order to save face. Punishment is far more effective and less damaging if it is doled out at the time of the bad behavior. Justice should be swift when dealing with children and it will be more effective if done immediately.

The trick is to have a separate set of consequences the child will suffer if bad behavior takes place away from home than those you have for home. It can be as simple as telling her child if he/she misbehaves at a Birthday party you will remove them from the party. Whatever the consequences, whether at home or away from home do it on the spot.

6. Keep Your Anger Under Control When Disciplining Your Child:

When we discipline we are attempting to send a message…certain behaviors are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. When you become angry and scream or yell the message gets lost. All your child hears or retains is the anger that is mudding up the message.

Keeping your anger under control also helps promote a respectful and loving relationship with your child. You will also be setting an example for your child on how to deal with a negative situation without going off the rails emotionally.

7. Allow Children to Help Set House Rules and Boundaries:

This is especially helpful when disciplining teenagers. An older child will feel more motivated to follow rules and respect boundaries they have helped set. Teens are on the brink of adulthood, they are living on the fence so to speak. It is a very frustrating time of wanting control but having none.

Giving your teen the opportunity to negotiate such things as curfew and what happens if they break curfew will give them a sense of control. I found, as my boys aged the more power they felt they had, the less likely they were to take advantage of that power.

8. Work Constructively With Your Co-Parent When Disciplining Your Child:

Your job as a single parent will be easier if you work with the non-custodial parent when setting up rules and boundaries for your child. These can be a challenging part of co-parenting but for the sake of your children, it is helpful for both parents to be on the same page when it comes to crimes and how those crimes are punished.

As parents, we want to teach our children certain morals and values. If divorced parents do not work together they fall short of teaching their children anything other than to engage in conflict and power struggles.

The rules at one house don’t have to be the same for the other house but parents should be in agreement about the need for setting and enforcing rules and boundaries. Doing so is best for all concerned.

The post Child Discipline After Divorce: 8 Tips For Single Moms appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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single motherhood

Single Motherhood: A Path I Never Imagined

single motherhood

 

“Children always choose their mothers,” a psychic once told me. She believed that from the spirit world, unborn children made this decision which would then impact the rest of their lives. I forgot about the reading until I had my own children. Then I adopted her belief and often say to my children, “Thank you for choosing me.”

Because becoming a mother is indefinable. It is an honor, a challenge, and a paramount responsibility. It is amazing, frightening, difficult, rewarding, and emotional. The highs are highs and the lows are lows, and the emotions I feel as a mother can change instantaneously. And nothing can adequately prepare a woman for the experience of motherhood.

However unprepared for motherhood I may have been, my plan was never single motherhood.

I married and waited several years before I became pregnant. During my pregnancies, the images I played in my head always included my husband and me as parents and partners. When my daughter was born, I was excited about embarking upon life as a family.

Becoming a mother made me vulnerable in a way I had never been. I felt as if my heart was now carried by another being, and her well-being was inextricably tied to me. Eighteen months later, my son was born. I had been so frightened I would never love anyone the way I loved my daughter, but hearts are expansive, and, much to my surprise, mine doubled in order to include my son. I was more vulnerable than before as my heart was now shared by two little people.

Motherhood suited me. Instinctually, I knew what to do to care for my babies. And if I didn’t, I turned to my mother, my sister, and my friends for advice and support. The one person who could never be relied upon was my husband. He, physically and emotionally, began to abandon the marriage as soon as we had a child. When my son was born, he disappeared. One friend best described his abandonment when she said, “You are growing up; your husband has grown down.”

Most of the time, we have choices. I chose to embrace parenthood. My husband did not make the same choice. I love the imagery from the Robert Frost poem, “The Path Not Taken.” The lines, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” has always resonated with me. It is empowering to imagine oneself standing at a fork in the road and making a difficult choice. But sometimes one does not get to make a choice. A path has already been predetermined. That is how I feel about the path of single motherhood. It is not one I chose, but one upon which I was forced.

The path of single motherhood can be lonely, especially because my idea of a family always included a mother, a father, and children.

I actually had never considered any other version. However, that was not to be. And so I walk a path, I never imagined. And there is always beauty in the unexpected. The view from this vantage point, no less stunning than from the one I had originally pictured.

Most days, I have confidence in my role as a single mother. There are days I feel lonely and scared but never for very long. I am not perfect, but my children will have to the opportunity to witness my strength and courage in the face of the unexpected.

And so, I don’t need to be a psychic to realize I have made many good choices. Over the summer, my daughter threw a penny into a fountain and made a wish. She came running back and said, “Mama, I wished for a mom like you.”

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Being a Great Mom

Balancing YOU While Still Being a Great Mom

Being a Great Mom

 

Being a mom isn’t easy. You deal with stress, frustration and having to be patient with your children and yourself. There are a million tasks a mom has. The biggest task often times have to be taken care of on a daily basis.

There are sports practices, PTA meetings, church activities, school homework, band practice, errands, meals to prepare, a house to clean, children to care for and other items on that bottomless list of things to get done.

A mother commonly doesn’t leave much time for herself in a day. The only time she might get for herself might only be when she’s in the bathroom or the shower, but who knows if that is true even then.

Balancing YOU While Still Being a Great Mom

Ways to Cope with the Stress

Most moms have a habit of putting the needs of others before their own. That is the job most of the time, but with that, there needs to be room for some “Mom time” where she can relax and de-stress. Going to get your nails done, going to the spa, going to the salon to get your hair done, are just a few ideas in finding ways to de-stress. Allowing yourself to breathe is very important and be kept in mind.

There are also other ideas to think about, many places to travel these days are kid-friendly and can add to good childhood memories. With the idea of a vacation, there are plenty of deals and packages to look for which can make going on vacation more economically affordable, and easy. It is a great opportunity to get away from your world for a while and relax.

Working with the Craziness of Life

It is also okay to make time for yourself and to plan a time to just to be alone. There are so many things that come with having children and many that can also help you stay happy and healthy, to strengthen your relationships with them. Creating seasonal traditions with your children can be something that brings joy to the art of being a Mother. Decorating the house for the holiday’s, making cookies and allowing your children to participate in those things can keep them occupied and take your mind off of your responsibilities for a while.

Another thing that a mother can do for herself is to allow herself to get ready and feel good about her appearance. It is a natural and beautiful thing to know that even when you are a Mom you can still look great when doing all a Mother does. It is the little things that go a long way.

Take the time to allow yourself to get what you need to get done, but still, look stylish while doing it. Looking good and feeling beautiful will help your days run a lot smoother. When mom is happy, everyone is happy. She will have the confidence in herself to know that she can complete all she needs to that day. It will give her that little daily boost that we all know she needs to accomplish what seems to be impossible.

One last tip for feeling and looking great is trying your best to eat healthy and well. Make it a priority and it will happen. Maybe not every day, but some days it will. You do so much as a mom and like what was said before, you do the impossible and that means you can do another impossible, eating well.

With this said, remember who you are as a mother. Remember what great work you do and the great care that is required for your job. As they say, with great power, comes great responsibility. Mothers are powerful, but that doesn’t mean that they can leave themselves to stress and not de-stress. Their wants and needs need to be met too and that cannot be left out.

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Pressure Of Single Parenting

How To Cope With The Pressure Of Single Parenting

Pressure Of Single Parenting

 

Do you feel that, since you’re raising your kids alone, you have to fill in for their dad as well? You’re not the only one. There are more than 11 million single-parent families with underage children in the U.S. Out of those, more than 80% are single-mom families.

Whether the father is present or not, he surely doesn’t play the same role he would if you were living together and working together for the benefit of your children. Now, most of all the responsibility falls on your shoulders. You need to look after them, provide for them, talk to them, be there when they need you, and still be able to laugh.

It cannot be easy, and there are surely times when you feel exhausted, desperate that you will never get things done the right way. Well, take a deep breath and move on. You’re already doing a great job, and, even if you weren’t, no one has the right to judge you.

In fact, you should give yourself some slack and make efforts to relieve some of the pressure or, better put, cope with it. How do you do that? You’ll find some ideas and advice below.

8 Tips to Cope with the Pressure of Single-Parenting

1. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help When You Need It

Raising healthy and happy kids is a challenge for many two-parent families. It is downright difficult for single parents, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s normal to need help, and you shouldn’t feel bad asking for help.

You surely have a relative, friend, or neighbor who wouldn’t mind watching your kids for a couple of hours now and then. If not, perhaps there are single parents with kids of the same age that you can befriend and help one another.

Unforeseen problems will always appear. It is important to have someone to rely on when they do. It is also important to be able to give yourself a break every once in a while. You are human too, and you have your needs, be they physical or emotional.

2. Take a Day or at Least a Couple of Hours for Yourself Regularly

How long has it been since you last went out on your own, or enjoyed a glass of wine over a hot bubble bath? Perhaps you could go to a local spa for a massage, have your hair and nails done, or just lie in bed and get some sleep.

Your worries and responsibilities won’t go away but you will at least recharge your batteries to be able to better cope with them. You will feel better in your own skin, and you will be more relaxed and patient around your kids.

3. Show Your Kids Some Love

If you and their dad have just broken up, they are surely affected, no matter if they are able to express their feelings or not. Perhaps you feel that they are getting out of control but all they need is some love and attention.

Forget about your chores for a moment, as they won’t go anywhere if you do. Take some time to play with your kids and have fun. Take them to the park, play some games, go out for ice cream, bake some cookies, or microwave some popcorn and see a movie.

As you do, don’t avoid open discussions. They have questions, fears, and things they need to share. You should listen, answer, and share back. After all, you only have each other. And, last but not least, don’t hesitate to tell and show your kids how much you love them. They need it!

4. Build a Routine

Kids also need stability and knowing what to expect. You need a schedule, to be able to better cope with your responsibilities. Building a routine solves both problems. Start by having your meals and going to bed at the same hours. Continue by scheduling homework and playtime.

It will be a little difficult in the beginning, especially if you used to live chaotically, but it will prove useful in the long run. You will be able to function on autopilot even on your worst days if both you and the kids know what’s next.

5. Don’t Forget about Rules and Limits

Both you and the kids are vulnerable. It is easy for them to cross boundaries, and it is normal to be tempted to overlook some actions and mistakes. Don’t! They need to know what’s right and what’s wrong, and they need to understand that actions have consequences.

Therefore, set strict rules and enforce them. Those who do not follow them should put up with the consequences. With kids, restricting internet use and TV time is the best punishment. Of course, good behavior should be rewarded too.

6. Find Your Emotional Triggers and Control Them

Even though you’ve created routine, set rules, and gotten used to the idea that you’ll be raising the kids by yourself, there are times when you still lose control. Perhaps you get angry and start yelling, or you get vulnerable and start crying.

Although such reactions are normal, they do not benefit the kids, so you should learn to manage them. You can do that by identifying and dealing with the emotional triggers, namely the words, people, or actions that cause your outbursts.

Try to look at them from a different perspective, a positive one. Look for their fun or educational side. Don’t hesitate to go to therapy if you need to. It is better to acknowledge problems and deal with them than deny them and hope they would go away.

7. Don’t Isolate Yourselves

Both you and the kids need people in your lives. You need support, inspiration, and fun. While rushing into a new relationship is not a good idea, getting to know people, setting playdates, and spending time with friends and families is.

Make sure to include some friends and family members of the opposite sex, if your ex is not involved in raising the kids. Your children need a role model. They need a fatherly figure in their life, just like you need the occasional help with repairs around the house, football training, fishing, and camping, etc.

8. Remember to Take Care of Yourself

While it is normal to put your kids first, you need to look after your own needs as well. Take care of your body and soul, learn to relax and have fun, and, as time goes by, don’t close the door on new relationships.

You cannot raise healthy and happy kids if you are not healthy and happy yourself, both on the inside and on the outside, so see to your own health and happiness! Things will get better with time, and the pressure of single-parenting burdening your shoulders now will fade and make room to hope and fulfillment.

The post How To Cope With The Pressure Of Single Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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safe as a single mom

4 Tips To Help You Feel Safe As a Single Mom

safe as a single mom

 

While living alone can come with a series of benefits for one’s mental well-being, it is also associated with a litany of challenges. One of these prominent challenges includes personal safety. Fortunately, there are easy ways to begin your journey as a single mother safely and securely. Here is how you can start today.

How to Feel Safe As a Single Mom

Have a Home Security System

In today’s day and age, technology can help people in a variety of ways. When it comes to your house, getting a home security system would be an excellent first step in ensuring your safety. This is because having this security system will not only ensure that people who are not supposed to be in your house stay out, but you will be alerted of any danger before it arises.

There are a series of components that can make a home security system even more powerful. For example, a motion detector will be able to track if someone suspicious that you were not expecting approaches your house. You will also be able to interface with the system so that it recognizes only you as the primary entrant. Wire-free cameras that latch onto the outside of the house is another cost-effective alternative to give you a view of what is taking place outside.

Build a Rapport With Neighbors

Moving into a new neighborhood can be a fun experience, but that does not mean you should ever let your guard down. One of the best ways to approach this is by establishing a support system in the form of your neighbors. When you move in, introduce yourself kindly and try to get their personal information. That way, if something were to happen and your family isn’t around, you can always rely on those next door to you.

Many people do not like trying to establish a relationship out of fear. However, do not let fear get in the way of helping out with your safety. You never know when an emergency may arise and if you will need swift assistance.

Do Not Reveal Your Status

There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to being a single mother living alone in a home. However, you should realize that revealing this fact could prove to be a huge safety hazard. Unfortunately, many would-be criminals or thieves see a single mother with no one else living in the household as an easy target.

You can be confident in yourself all you please, but understand that many home invasions occur in groups and not just singular adversaries. Take pride in being independent and do not be ashamed of it. At the same time, be wise about it and do not make it obvious that it is only yourself and furniture inside your home.

Use Common Sense

Finally, you will always want to use common sense, especially to deter potential criminals. What does this entail? First, you will want to close all of the curtains so as to not reveal how many people are currently inside. Also, you will want to keep some of the lights on until late in the night. After all, the key for criminals is stealth and the ability to commit a crime without having their identity exposed. Also, make sure that your windows are shut and your doors are locked. You can spend money on security systems, but common sense helps.

As you can see, living alone can be fun, but it comes with great responsibility. Follow these tips and you will feel more safe and secure.

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child-centered summer activities

Single Mom Budget: 10 Fun & Inexpensive Child-Centered Summer Activities

child-centered summer activities

 

Growing up in a family of six children, raised by a single mother, vacations were few and far between. I cherish those moments and remember many inexpensive things done near home.

Airplane tickets were out of the question and with six kids, even a small vacation was expensive. My mom was often so busy, angry and exhausted that having a break, just to relax and enjoy time together wasn’t at the front of her mind but I wish it had been.

I want to create fun memories for Hidalgo, broaden his mind, help him become a well-rounded individual. This also means broadening experiences and getting out into the real world. I can’t afford to take him to multiple exotic summer homes but I can do lots of little things.

Here are 10 inexpensive Child-Centered Summer Activities

1.  Tent Camping:

If your only experience of camping is on a crowded campsite with dodgy plumbing this sounds horrible. There is a better kind of camping, in nature. Check the regulations at your nearest state/national forest, borrow or rent some basic equipment if you’re not convinced and try it with your kids. With a car, a map and some basic equipment, you can head to the hills.  Be surrounded by silence, tell stories and roast marshmallows over a campfire, take walks and explore in nature. Kids love it. I love it. Maybe you love it?

2.  Rent a cabin:

I’m a huge fan of state and national parks and forests. The low-cost resources available at them are second to none. Europe does not have the extensive land or preservation system of the U.S. and these are resources that can become a lifetime of vacation memories. If the thought of sleeping on the ground really creeps you out, cabins are very affordable. The rustic nature plus convenience of indoor plumbing get you out of your surroundings and into nature without going fully feral.

3.  Fishing:

Again, this one involves equipment (borrow at first), nature and a car. Don’t forget to the fishing license from your local bait shop (kids are free). I’m a bit of a tomboy and really like the thrill of catching my meal.  My love of it came from those tight money times when my mother crammed us into the car and drove us to the nearest lake to spend the afternoon angling for the big one. To this day, I have no idea if we needed that fish to supplement our meager rations or it was really a vacation. We just liked being outside, all together, focused on the wiggle of the pole and eating the spoils.

4.  Canoeing:

As you see, there is a theme building in terms of nature activities which involve equipment. I lived a few years in the Western part of the U.S. just after graduation when I had the least money but the most energy. I’ve tried many outdoor pursuits…kayaking, rock climbing, backpacking, hiking, fishing because they were cheap and fun. Many state parks and local outfitters rent equipment at reasonable prices. Who knows? You might love it so much you buy your own equipment and find a great new hobby. There are tons of things to do in nature.  Inspire your kids, Inspire yourself.

5.  Amusements:

Amusement parks, zoos, science centers, water parks, aquariums, and natural history museums are all fun and inexpensive activities. I don’t love them all but the little one thinks they are great. The ones in your town or near your town are probably good. Drive an hour and maybe the large city nearby has great options. I find it odd that people will spend lots of money to come all the way to France to see museums and exhibits but have never been to their local attractions. Check your city’s visitor guide. I bet there is stuff you haven’t seen or done yet.

6.  Ride the rails, Ride the ferries:

Depending on where you live, this is either very easy or near impossible. Public transportation is of poor quality in the states compared to Europe but there are places the trains go and if you buy early, they can be economical. Many large bodies of water are traversed by public and private ferry service. Think of a novel form of transport that gets you somewhere new. Kids like new experiences…riding a training even if it’s just a few towns over for a burger might be new to both of you.

7.  Build a fort:

When I was a kid, we were allowed to roam the neighborhood at all hours and discover the edges of our little world. We built kid camps just on the borders where the houses stopped and the ravines and wild places began.  Sadly, many kids don’t have this kind of freedom anymore. But a fort can be built over summer with found objects in your own back yard. Help as necessary for safety but let them do as much as they can on their own. If you’re lucky, they’ll sleep in it and give you some much needed quiet.

8. Join a local recreation center:

Join a local recreational center, like the YMCA, which offers affordable memberships and plenty of programs. My summer days were spent at the local city pool run by the recreation center. A pass purchased for a city-run activity is quite inexpensive.

9. Thank local heroes:

Take a tour of your police or fire station. Since most locations don’t have set visiting hours, call ahead to arrange an appointment. What better lesson for kids to learn than showing respect for and thanking their local heroes.

10. Build an obstacle course:

Build a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, even a hose, then time the kids. The building and running the course, will teach them creativity and keep them occupied with a fun activity.

Having fun does not have to cost lots of money. I grew up poor but didn’t really know I was until the later years. Times were hard but my mother did the best she could with what she had. We had fun, we did stuff during the summers as a family and we enjoyed it. That’s how I want Hidalgo to remember his childhood.

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your ex is the fun parent

Disney Dad: How to Cope When Your Ex Is The Parent

your ex is the fun parent

 

Do you ever feel as if your ex is acting like the proverbial grand marshal of the parade at Disney World, fiercely entertaining and wooing your kids, while you are the one who is left pushing the stroller and carrying the diaper bag?

If this sounds familiar, you might be dealing with a “Disney Dad”! Disney Dad is defined as the “fun parent” or the person who does not worry about the day-to-day grind.

How to Cope When Your Ex Is The Fun One

A Definite Lack of Fairy Dust

It may appear your ex has set up shop in The Happiest Place on Earth and turned you into the villain, but think about it this way: He feels terrible about the fact he is not home when the kids go to bed each night and is incredibly focused on making up for that in any way he can. Now, realize that some of these feelings may be intensified and heightened if he is the one who was responsible for your split or who initiated the divorce.

I can guarantee that while a forty-eight-hour, all-inclusive trip to the Magic Kingdom is a lot of fun in the heat of the moment, when they are tired and done at the end of the day, they just want to fall asleep on Mommy.

How to Avoid Feeling like the Runner-Up

This new dynamic in your life can be hard—and it can feel bad. I am quite sure you have thought, “Well, I could be ‘Fun Mommy’ if I had to parent only every other weekend, did not have to worry about homework getting done, and did not have to think about a million other responsibilities day in and day out.” However, your life right now requires you to care about the minutiae—“the stuff that is not fun.”

I encourage you to think about your role in your children’s lives and what that means to them. Remind yourself that love cannot be bought and that children understand when a parent is there to support them, nurture them, and comfort them.  Learn how to cope better by creating a barrier and not worrying about what happens when your child is on Disney Dad’s time. This might go against your most basic instincts as a parent, but for your sanity, I encourage you to master this.

Yes, Disney World is a very fun place to visit, but at the end of the day, a child craves stability and consistency. As your children grow, they will develop an appreciation for the parent who got it done, day in and day out.

They will admire the parent who took time out of her day to get them to soccer practices and ballet rehearsal; they will appreciate that Mom helped them with their homework and made them brush their teeth before bed. Take comfort in the thought that while a weekend vacation might be nice, there is no place like home.

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summer child care options

12 Summer Child Care Options for the Divorced Mom

summer child care options

 

Once I was divorced and did not have the financial resources I’d previously had to send my children to enriching or fun day camps and away camps, or hang out at a local pool with them all day long I had to sew together a patchwork quilt of summer child care options to get us through the summer while I worked.

It was always a near miss in which I was thinking, “Oh no, what will I do for this week or that week?” But, somehow, by using every single one of the options below plus some I may have forgotten, we made it through, mostly in one piece.

12 Options for Summer Child Care Options:

1. Counselor in Training: If your kids are 13 or 14, they may qualify for some counselor-in-training programs. I got my 14-year-old into one and it has served her well ever since (even though she opted not to continue that program the following summer). Most of these DO cost something. Swallow your pride and resolve to sit down with the financial aid application for these programs. We got an excellent deal. I did pay some of it, but my ex also chipped in seeing as he couldn’t babysit either.

2. Camps Offer Financial Aid: Even if you don’t think you qualify for summer camp financial aid, you might. I did not think I would, but I did qualify. No matter what the child’s age, there are camps all over the place and the issue is deciding which ones work for your kids and for your situation. Most of them offer scholarships and financial aid. Again, try to jump over the pride hurdle. And do your best to jump over the “I don’t have time to fill out the paperwork” hurdle. I say this in a loving way, of course. I had to give myself pep talks over and over again. I never liked asking for help, but, lo and behold, I needed help and so did my children. I did what I had to do.

3. Neighborhood Teens: Babysitters in my area make more than some of the divorced moms I know. However, one thing I have learned in business is that you can negotiate anything. ANYTHING! You just have to ask for what you need and tell people what you can and cannot afford.

4. Craigslist: Post for a sitter on Craigslist. I tried posting on college campuses but the youth in my area responded to the Craiglist posts. I had some excellent candidates. Of course, I couldn’t pay top dollar but they were still willing to work with me. Somehow, someway, you can find a sitter who will work within your parameters. This doesn’t come challenge-free, but you can find a solution—even if it is a stop-gap measure. One day I will write about the fiasco of hiring a sitter to pick up my 12-year-old child who refused to answer her phone and refused to be where she was supposed to be for pickup. That was one frustrated and unhappy babysitter. But, it worked for a little while.

5. Tweens can be Mother’s Helpers for Others: Line up mother’s helper gigs for tweens and younger teens. This worked for one summer with my middle child and has served her well.

6. Get a Job: I strongly suggested to my son that he get certified as a lifeguard. I had to make it all happen, but this has provided income for him ever since. Even now in college, he lifeguards on the side.

7. Swim Team: Swim team is a mixed bag. On one hand, your child gets good daily exercise and something to do. On the other hand, you’ve got those five-hour-long meets. And our teams wanted all parents to work the meets. Eventually, we had to bow out of that commitment. But for some of you, it might work out.

8. Grandma Camp!: First I had to package the idea of my kids coming to visit as “fun.” Then I had to package going to their grandparents’ house as a “vacation.” Somehow, when we could manage it, it all seemed to work.

9. Friends! I never would have thought of this one myself. However, I had several friends offer to have my kids come to stay for a week with them over the summer. Thank goodness for friends, is all I can say.

10. Vacation Time: Save your paid vacation time for summer as much as you can. It’s great to go away for holidays and all that but the summer is more pressing. You will probably be providing your own childcare for some of this time.

11. Dad Camp!: Don’t withhold time that the kids can spend with their dad. Use it! Let HIM do some of the work. You need a break. Also as a child of divorce, I can say that even though my dad was/is a piece of work and not the greatest dad, I still relished the time I spent with him. Parents can be jerks, but we still need them. Your kids will like extra time with dad as long as he isn’t truly neglectful (legal definition) or truly abusive.

12. Vacation Bible School: Hear me out on this one if you are not particularly religious. Most of the VBS’s I have observed operate much like any other preschool or daycare program. They color, they sing, the eat watermelon. It isn’t usually a bigtime dose of religion. And if you are desperate, churches are good for things like desperation. This is actually where they excel. They can be a safety net.

The post 12 Summer Child Care Options for the Divorced Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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divorced dads

The Value of Divorced Dads: On Father’s Day And Every Day

divorced dads

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others.

 

Father’s Day is just another day around my house. My father passed away13 years ago and my ex-husband has no relationship with our two sons. I was blessed with a loving father who earned celebrations every day of the year.

My boys, bless their hearts, ended up with the kind of father that perpetuates the old stereotypes about deadbeat dads. I’ve been divorced from their father for 19 years, during that time I’d venture to say that 90% of the time he has been a no-show when it comes to fathering.

When I began this article I was stumped, what can I, a mother whose sons don’t have a father say to divorced dads on Father’s Day? I then realized that the absence of their father has taught me quite a bit about the importance of fathers in a child’s life. Not just on Father’s Day but every day.

Whether you have full custody, 50/50 custody or you are an every other weekend Dad, when your little ones give you a gift and card this Father’s Day it isn’t because you are special to them on one day but, because you add value to their lives every day.

A Divorced Dads Value on Father’s Day and Every Day:

Showing up:

Showing up in spite of a difficult visitation schedule or conflict with your ex teaches your children persistence. If you continue to be involved in your children’s live after divorce, engage in quality time with them regardless of how little quantity, you are teaching your child that when something is important to them, it is worth pursuing with persistence. What a wonderful lesson to teach!

They learn they matter:

You not only teach your children that they matter but, by example, you teach them that what they do matters. You showing them that they matter teaches them to care about others. You teach them that actions, words, and deeds are the true measure of a person when you show up and you show them they can trust your actions, words and deeds.

You give them someone to go to:

If they are hurting or confused over a problem they know you are available. You make a difference when they are down and out. By being there for them, you teach them to be there for others. You have a direct impact on how empathetic and compassionate they become.

You impact their ability to learn:

Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. Fathers who are involved and nurturing with their children impact their IQ scores as well as cognitive abilities, verbal skills, and intellectual functioning. So, show up as often as possible because you are raising geniuses!

You impact their mental health:

Children with good relationships with their fathers are less likely to experience depression or exhibit disruptive behavior. Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and girls have higher self-esteem. In other words, by showing up you teach your boys the importance of proper behavior and your girls to never settle for that ne’er-do-well boy that every father fears.

You teach your sons how to be good fathers:

Fathering involves commitment, self-sacrifice, integrity, and unconditional love. Responsible fathers are concerned with the well-being of their children, and their desire is to see their children succeed in all areas of life.

Nurturing your relationship with your sons trains them “up right,” as my grandmother used to say, it educates them and fosters healthy development. Do this for your sons and your grandchildren will be rewarded with loving, attentive fathers.

You teach them how to love:

Lessons of love always begin in childhood with the parent/child relationship. If children feel authentically loved by a father they will grow up knowing how to love others. The ability to give love is directly related to the love we receive, especially during childhood. Showing up and filling your children with love will play a huge role in the kind of romantic relationships they involve themselves in as adults.

And that is just the short list! Raising two boys on my own has taught me a lot about the value of a father. Working through the years with clients and hearing from fathers via email, I know that my ex-husband is not representative of the vast majority of divorced dads.

We hear a lot about single and divorced moms but very little about divorced dads. We place value on the mother/child relationship and at times dismiss the father/child relationship. It is my wish on this Father’s Day that divorced dads know that, although others may not be paying attention, their children are.

They are waiting for your phone call, watching out the window, looking for your car, counting the days until your next visitation. They are eager to see you, share their lives with you and love you. And every time you show up your value to them increases tenfold.

If you are a divorced dad who shows up, every day spent with your children feels like Father’s Day to them.

So, Happy “Father’s Day” today and every day.

The post The Value of Divorced Dads: On Father’s Day And Every Day appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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summer child care tips

6 Summer Child Care Tips For Single Moms

summer child care tips

 

When the kids were younger, Summer break was always a good time for us to spend a lot of quality family time together. We were able to make things work so that one parent was home, or we would enroll the kids in different programs that would work around our schedules.

When I became a single mom in 2015, life suddenly got so much harder trying to juggle the balance between work and family. I suddenly had to find alternatives for childcare so I could go back to work full-time just to support the three of us.

I dreaded the Summer because I had no idea what to do with the kids while I was working. They weren’t old enough to stay at home by themselves, childcare was getting so expensive for both kids, at a young age there wasn’t really many camps or programs they could join. It just became this big ordeal in trying to find something I could afford at their age.

I searched constantly for a work at home job or childcare that would work around my schedules. I juggled friends and family helping me watch the children or get them to where they needed to be. After looking for a few months, I finally found a job that after a few months would allow me to work at home. I live in a small town, so this was a huge deal for me.

Summer Child Care Tips

Plan, Plan, Plan

Summer break may not be the first thing on your mind, but it should be right up there on the list. Save up your vacation days and any earned time off work. Use those days off during the Summer when you may need them. Another option would be setting a little bit of money back each payday to go towards daycare or camp costs.

Ask about changing your work routine or schedule

Do you have a lot of college kids or younger adult coworkers that may be able to switch their hours or days around? Does your employer offer a work from home program that you can work towards? Don’t be afraid to ask your boss about changing your schedule or days to fit your summer break schedule. Be open and honest with your boss and maybe they can offer some help.

Ask Other Parents

You probably know or work with other parents. Start up a conversation about the kids and what they may be doing for Summer break. They may know of friends and family who own an affordable daycare or know of some not so expensive programs that you can enroll your child into.

If your child has made friends with a student who has a stay at home parent, check with them to see if they would be willing to help watch the kids during summer break while you work. You can set up a payment plan with them that would fit within your budget.

Ask Family

Check with your parents to see if they would be willing to help with summer care. Maybe they can watch the kids while you are working. They may also be able to help get the kids to different activities around town. My mom was able to help during the school year, luckily, she only lives 30 minutes away, so she was able to help on her days off.

Last Summer, our family who doesn’t live close, was able to take the kids for a few weeks at a time. This worked out well for both of us because they were able to spend quality one on one time with the kids and it gave me the opportunity to work without worrying. I could also work extra hours at that time for a bigger paycheck.

You can check with other members of the family as well. Maybe the kids have an aunt or uncle they can visit for some of the Summer.

Low-Cost Local Programs

Many places such as the YMCA, schools, and other organizations offer affordable day camps. This was another lifesaver for me. It was both affordable and they often ran until the late evening, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to get the kids from one place to another while I worked.

These programs often offer a low-cost option or can point you into the right direction of receiving financial help to pay for the program costs. Also, check with the state programs or local community or colleges to see what they offer. There is a local college here where they offer a discounted day program to qualifying families so that students get hands-on experience with kids for their degree.

High School Students and Siblings

When Summer hits, there always seem to be high school students looking to make a little extra money. This can be a good thing for working parents. You’ll often find this is cheaper than daycare or camp programs. Of course, you don’t just want any high schooler watching the kids so be sure to do your research and ask around to see if any friends or family can make a recommendation.

If you have older children who are responsible you can recruit them in as well. Since they are on summer break as well, they can babysit.

As kids get older it can get a lot easier to find things for them during the summer. Check with your local and state laws to see how old a child must be before you can leave them on their own. If they are old enough and responsible enough to take care of themselves that is another option. If they are at the right age, you can test their responsibility level throughout the year to see if you can trust them being home alone. Work on a few hours at first then move up to a weekend night. After you know they can handle it you can try it for a full weekend.

As a single mom, it can be tough throughout the Summer. Trying to juggle kids and work can be extremely hard and expensive. Start planning early and looking at different options to see what will work best for your family.

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