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How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus

How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus

I honestly never expected to be writing a blog like this.  We are in uncharted water and very scary times. On top of health concerns everyone is worrying about their financial futures as this virus is sure to have an economic impact on the whole world.  

For some parents, there is also the added worry of how this is going to affect their co-parenting relationship and contact with their children.

I can’t do anything to offer any support around the health and financial issues so I wanted to offer my advice on something I do know about.

corona virus briefing

Current Situation

At a national level the current advice from the UK government is to avoid “non-essential contact”, stay home for 14 days if you live with someone with a cough or temperature and schools to remain open for now.  Things are changing on a daily basis as we learn more about the virus but this is where we stand and that is already causing issues for parents.

Many parents are refusing to return children after contact or claiming self isolation and cancelling contact.  Whilst I am not saying that in some cases this is absolutely the right thing to do, I am also aware that there are cases where parents are using this to restrict contact and alienate the other parent.  Essentially the government are giving permission for abusive people to isolate their victims.  Again, this is not to say that reducing contact isn’t a necessary step, just an acknowledgement that abusive parents will and are using the advice to their advantage (as predicted in my previous blog).

Reality 

What is confusing for many parents is the dilemma of following government advice and reducing contact and self isolating to protect others including their own children, knowing that if they cancel, it will be used as a weapon to beat them by the other parent who will create the narrative of “they don’t care about you”.  Some parents may even accuse the other parent of being unsafe because they take them out and so refuse contact to keep them safe.  It is a real mine field.

The reality of this is that it has created a real paradox and cognitive dissonance in many people.  They hold two very different but valid opinions about the same thing.  This confusion can be very triggering for victims of abuse because this is exactly what they experienced during the relationship.  So not only are people confused and scared by the outbreak, they are also reliving their past trauma at the same time.  Which is why it is so important you learn how to manage this situation.

3 Ways To Manage Quarantine

Practical Steps

If you aren’t able to see your children, keep communication lines open.  Arrange regular telephone or video calls, send letters, care packages, use social media.  Get creative in ways to stay in touch.  Military families spend months away from their families and the bond between them and their children does not diminish and so this doesn’t have to either.

If your ex is not supportive of contact, record videos and either save them to your phone, laptop or upload them onto video sharing platforms (private setting) so that you can show them your “video diary” at a later date.  This is one of the biggest things we as a society will ever go through in our life time and so keeping a record will be really helpful for both you and your children once everything settles.  You can send letters (unless you have a court order which specifically states you can’t) but there is no guarantee they will get them but if you send them recorded you can again provide evidence when you are able to. 

As adults this is a really scary time and the children will pick up on that even if they are not old enough to know what is going on.  Help to reduce their anxiety by exploring their understanding of what is going on and offer an explanation (age appropriate) if necessary.  If you are stuck at home, plan activities and keep them entertained.  The truth is being stuck indoors without a break for 14 days (or however long this goes on for) is not going to be fun for anyone.  There will be a lot of pent up energy and anxiety which can cause arguments and definitely put a strain on even the best relationships.  Think of ways you can work through that.  Having a plan in advance really will help.

Finally, keep yourself safe and well.  Follow the guidance but try not to get obsessed with it.  The press and even social media are fear mongering and that can add to your anxiety.  Limit your news watching/paper reading/ social media time to reduce your anxiety levels.

Responses

If your ex is playing up and refusing contact on the grounds of self isolation which you feel is unnecessary, let it go.  The reality is that there is nothing you can do.  They have a legitimate excuse now to cut contact and arguing with them only fuels their ego.  They love to know they are hurting you so a simple “thank you for keeping our child safe” will suffice.  Again this is unprecedented territory and we have no way of knowing what is coming next.  Save your energy for the long game. 

If they refuse to allow you to talk to your children during this, again save your energy.  Yes it is cruel and vindictive and not in the child’s best interests but there is nothing you can do.  In all likelihood courts will be closed shortly and so there is nowhere to turn.  You have to find your own way through this.  I do not say that flippantly, I appreciate how tough this is.  But I have learnt the hard way that worry and anger do nothing to move you towards your goal and so focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

Your children may have a lot of questions about what is happening.  Be aware of your own feelings about this before you respond.  It can be really easy to transfer our fears onto our children and so being aware of how we feel can help to manage that.  They are seeking reassurance and comfort from you and so try to stay positive.  We will get through this.

Emotions

You may feel scared.  You are probably worried about yourself, your children and elderly relatives.  Maybe even for society as a whole.  That is normal and natural.  It is something we have no idea of how it is going to go. The unknown is scary.  Add to that the added implications on our finances and it could be easy to drown under all the difficulties.  Managing fear can be difficult, especially when we are being bombarded with worse case and apocalyptic scenarios.  As previously stated, I recommend limiting your time watching the news/reading newspapers/social media to keep on top of the fear. 

Get in touch with where in your body the feeling is because the simple act of acknowledging the physical sensations can be enough to reduce the feeling.  

Practice 4-2-4 breathing if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with panic.  Breath in for a count of 4, hold for 2 and out for 4.

It can be frustrating being kept from your children and also being told by the government how to live your life, it can feel very controlling and abusive when this is the environment you have experienced in the past.  But it really is a wasted emotions.  It achieves nothing.  Right now there is no rule book about what is happening and so where possible, you have to go with it.  Try to keep your emotions in check and focus on staying safe and healthy. 

Obviously being way from your children will feel like a terrible loss and you may experience grief.  It’s important to allow those feelings to flow.  Grief is a cycle between denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.  Try not to get stuck in any one of those stages.  The next stage will come but it isn’t linear.  You will go back and forth.  It’s all normal and natural.  Don’t fight it, it shows how much you love them and that in itself can be a comfort.  It wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t love them so much.

If you are self isolated or we are forced into lockdown, try to stay busy.  Talk to friends over Skype, Facetime or other video call services.  Read the books you have always meant to.  Start a new hobby.  You could start a business.  Make some changes round the house.  I always find moving my furniture quite therapeutic!  If you can find the best in this situation, you will fare far better.

Finally the prospect of being in isolation can be very worrying and scary to many people.  Humans are social creatures and to be potentially forced to stay away from others is going to feel really unnatural.  Please know that support is out there. Just because it isn’t face to face doesn’t mean that you can’t get help.  We at The Nurturing Coach have introduced weekly online support groups to help you through this period of uncertainly.  Do join us, it can really help to talk to others.  

 

I hope this has offered some guidance for you.  I appreciate it is a difficult time and I certainly don’t have all the answers but I wanted to offer something.  Do stay safe everyone.  Take care.

The post How To Survive Co-parenting In Quarantine – The Impact Of Coronavirus appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal

 

I wonder how long people who go through a divorce remain shell shocked?

I have struggled for so long trying to figure out why my life turned out like this. Why was I the chosen one to carry so much and what was my role in this?

Did I sign on to this in another life?

Did I agree to this before I was born?

Why did I allow so much emotional abuse after the divorce?

Why didn’t our divorce end on some note, if any of goodness?

I mean, he went through three attorneys. I had two. The first one was our mediator. But suddenly as it often happens, my then husband abandoned the notion that mediation was a good way to go. He allowed himself to be counseled by the woman he left me for and by a myriad of others presumably.

So, I was left to have the mediator act on my behalf. But sadly, I found out shortly into it that she was rather disinterested and was planning on retiring. She did. Hence the reason for me to hire someone new.

How does one hire an attorney anyway?

How does one hire someone who is serving you like a real estate agent and a Hollywood agent at the same time? Only the buying and selling is your personal marriage and your children are the amenities in the deal. How do you find an attorney that apparently has to look and feel the opposite of the person who served as the priest or minister who married you?

The dis-marriage is equal in emotional intensity as the marriage. On your wedding day, all is perfect in your world. You are enchanted with life and cannot wait to start this new journey into the unknown. On the day of your divorce, you are emotionally exhausted and terrified of the journey that lay in front of you. What I clearly see now as I reflect on that time 20 years ago, was that it all could have been so much better, and it all looks so silly to me now.

So, what do you need to know in order to hire an attorney and survive the ordeal?

How can you avoid being emotionally bankrupt along with financially bankrupt? What I am about to share has nothing to do with strategy or cunning. It is only my advice on how you can keep your heart and soul intact and keep your sanity as well. So, as I said to my attorney after every phone call, fax, email and paperclip he billed me for, I told him that I wanted to send my kids to college one day; not his. Keep that on the forefront of your brain as you wade through the troubled waters of divorce and seek a divorce attorney.

Please state your intentions.

This should be the first question you ask a prospective divorce attorney. You cannot control what your spouse is going to do or say as it relates to his finding the right representation. But you have all the say as it relates to your hiring your own representation because you are not only representing you. That is the easy part. You are representing your children as well.

You most likely have never been through this before and are terrified as you lay vulnerable to a process that you have never imagined before. Go with your gut, even at the first handshake. You do not want to be his prey too. Ask him what his methods are? Do they match your motives and mantras? There are so many questions in dismantling a marriage and none of them seem natural.

A good attorney will advise you of what is not possible, just as much as what is possible. Because my husband changed attorneys three times, it felt like the goal post kept getting moved farther away. His attorneys all seemed to have convinced him that I was a bad person who never held an ounce of importance to him. They did this, of course, to keep him angry and to keep cutting them the checks. They also convinced him that our children who were 4 years old and 4 weeks old, were literally collateral that he could leverage. That was the hardest thing I had ever faced, and it almost completely undid me.

The dehumanizing nature of child custody and support and the fact that your children’s wellbeing is relegated to a decimeter calculation was more than I could bear. In one of the child custody hearings, I remember my actual hearing started to fade away. I could see people talking but I could no longer hear words. My ex husband never once raised his head as they went on and sliced up our children before my eyes.

I drifted back to a moment less than a year earlier when I was being wheeled out of the hospital after delivering my baby girl and the volunteers all telling us what a perfect baby she was. My life felt as complete as I could possibly imagine. I loved my husband; I loved my 4-year-old little boy and we were all going home together. The moment I was currently in came slamming back at me and I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a strange courtroom next to a mere stranger and my family was being dismantled by a Judge I had never seen before.

I quietly asked my attorney if I could be excused? I got up and walked to the women’s restroom and vomited. It was a physical reaction to the utter disbelief of where my life had been taken. Nothing could have been farther from that moment in the hospital and no one should ever experience that. Especially a new mother.

Don’t forget that you both once cared.

I say this because there was a time that you both were on the same page and your ex-husband was present when the order for the babies was placed. When I look back at the chaotic times during our divorce, I see that much of it came from the attorneys. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the other woman in our life had much to say as well.  Her motivations were to take care of herself and her children. She didn’t need his money. She just needed the man beside her and to heck, with the wife, baby, and toddler he was also responsible for.

I could only see her as a woman capable of cheating with a man with a pregnant wife so there was no need for me to hold her to any high standards. But the attorneys had more knowledge than anyone on how to play the game and, played it they did.

Before them stood two people who were well out of their comfort zones and were complete sponges for anything to be absorbed into. This included creating the utter strangers we became to each other overnight. My husband may have been a mixed-up man who didn’t know how to be happy in my opinion. But he wasn’t a bad man. I never could have dated, let alone marry a bad man. That isn’t to make excuses for him. This realization has come over time so that I could better understand his decisions based on what I now believe to be his fears and insecurities.

We did have isolated moments during the divorce process when we were standing on the same team sideline. But those moments became fewer and fewer as the attorneys played us against each other as if we were in a prizefighting match. We soon lost track of what we were doing and why. The why was always, or at least should have been… our children.

I did not qualify for spousal support, so it was all about the child support. And soon that became a game. The percentage of time for him was all about the money it equated to. I never really understood that. He wanted to flee us and live with his girlfriend who lived 50 miles away. I was fine with that. Go. I never wanted to see them in my town anyway. But when you have children, and in my case very small children that matters.

I had a baby who was now being taken 50 miles away from me. And it no longer became about my discomfort… and believe me I died every other weekend that my children were taken to some women’s house that I had never even met. But it became about the wellbeing of my children. My parents who were from the greatest generation were horrified to see what was happening with their grandchildren. It just wasn’t in their realm of thinking that a father could do this to the mother of his children. I spent many hours consoling them as much as myself.

The attorneys and the Judge no longer looked at us as people. We were just a negotiation. Take the time needed to come together for your children outside of the attorneys. If we could have had a civil conversation centered solely around our children, I really don’t think we would have had to endure what amounted as cruelty to each other. He wasn’t a bad man. But his lawyer and girlfriend had agendas that outweighed his sense of decency which preyed on his weakness and the people who suffered the most were our children.

So, I share this so you all get a hold of the divorce process before it gets a hold of you and before you get as far away from the sacred moments of bringing your babies into the world together as you could possibly imagine. Don’t let that happen. Find a sliver of the reason you came together in the first place and do the right thing for your children. You are responsible for raising them and you owe your children this. The attorneys and Judges are not their parents and they will fade away as soon as all the dust has settled.

We all have regrets.

I can’t think of anything in my life that I regret more than having to go through a divorce and be a single parent. There isn’t anything in my upbringing that prepared me for that. But what I know for sure 20 years later, is that if he and I had first calmly sat down and outlined our own ground rules and reminded each other that there was a day not that long ago, that we did love each other and that we were friends then maybe, just maybe we could have taken the reigns to that horrible experience away from the attorneys, judges and even girlfriends and navigated the choppy waters with the north star of our children in mind.

Maybe then we all would have suffered less. I don’t know for sure, but I want to remember that my ex-husband was my Best Friend at one time and trusted him with my life and the lives of our children.

Choose wisely so that one of the regrets you have in divorce, isn’t the attorney that represented you. And your children, though tough as divorce is on them, are spared the taffy pull that can last a lifetime for them and which can become fully ensconced into their blueprints. Give them a chance to be as whole as possible by just choosing wisely your words, your actions and your attorney at the start. And remember you had a childhood. Let them have one too.

The post What You Need To Know In Order To Hire An Attorney And Survive The Ordeal appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How to Survive Thanksgiving if Your Ex is a TURKEY!

How to Survive Thanksgiving if Your Ex is a TURKEY!

Some fathers are irrational, misguided and unable to keep their children out of the middle of the conflict they have with the mother. It isn’t only during the holidays.

The post How to Survive Thanksgiving if Your Ex is a TURKEY! appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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self-care after an affair

Self-Care After An Affair: 7 Things That Helped Me Survive

self-care after an affair

 

I can’t stress enough the importance of self-care after an affair. Living in a state of trauma, chaos and stress are bad for your body and mental health. Stress causes cortisol to rise and can wreak havoc on your body.

I knew that I needed to find some peace, calm and serenity during this dark time, but I didn’t really know in the early phases what would create this kind of environment for me.

There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed, so the thought of self-exploration and reflection to reclaim a calmer state of mind sounded exhausting.

Self-Care After an Affair

Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings

There’s a fine line between distraction and avoidance when dealing with a traumatic situation. You can’t avoid it forever and inevitably when your feelings arise or you are triggered, rather than trying to push it out of your mind, instead try to understand what you’re feeling and why.

Nailing down the feeling (sadness, pain, abandonment, loneliness) and what caused the trigger is helpful. Acknowledgment and validation, even to yourself, makes you realize it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling because it is. You are where you are and that’s ok. Identifying what caused your emotions to flare up can help you recognize it in the future to prevent it or soften the blow.

The Art of Distraction

While it’s important to not constantly avoid your feelings, you can’t live in your pain all day every day. Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings or triggers at the moment, go do what you enjoy doing, if that feels acceptable to you. Try something new or default to an activity you love with someone in your inner circle who you can trust.

Journal/Write

I’ve never really been into journaling, but I will say – if you have the time and you are seeking better or different ways to cope, writing your feelings down can be therapeutic. Ahem…I did end up writing this book!  Write a letter to your partner if that helps you articulate the pain you’re in.  It’s up to you whether you share it or not – it’s more for you than your partner. Burn it, share it, whatever feels best to you.

Meditation

I’ve also never been into meditating but out of necessity, this felt like something worth exploring. There are many applications you can download on your phone for a guided meditation which may help calm your mind when it’s wandering on repeat with all those negative or painful thoughts.

It also can include the practice of gratefulness. It’s hard to be grateful in your trauma, but I’m willing to bet there are things in your life you are grateful for that bring you happiness and joy (your health, your job, your kids, your family, your friends).

 Yoga

You might be noticing a theme here, but again…I’ve never been into yoga!  My friend told me specifically about yin yoga and we’ve jokingly referred to it as a “guided nap.” Sorry if this offends any yogis out there. There’s science behind the benefits of tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system and how that correlates to a reduction in stress. I did this once or twice a week during my most stressful months and I always walked away from the class feeling relaxed. I’m still not a die-hard yoga fan, but I recommend it for the above mentioned reasons and it did help calm my body and mind.

Massages (or any spa treatment)

Now, this is something I’ve always enjoyed. A little pampering and relaxing are good for the mind and soul.

Being in Nature

I started to seek out environments and landscapes that made me feel at peace. Being in nature or on the water for me was relaxing and it fed my soul. Enjoying views and watching sunsets made me feel calm and gave me a sense of serenity I desperately needed.

I live in a big city with bumper to bumper traffic and that did nothing to bring me the feeling of calm I was seeking. I started to do day trips away from the city and a handful of trips alone where I’d rent a place with a view, near the water and far away from the hustle and bustle of both the city and my internal thoughts.

Identify how you can best take care of yourself will greatly help you in your journey after infidelity.

The post Self-Care After An Affair: 7 Things That Helped Me Survive appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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survive financially as a single mom

3 Ways Single Moms Can Survive Financially

survive financially as a single mom

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on if you want to survive financially as a single mom: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

 

Whether you’ve always managed the household checkbook or this is your first time, the financial struggles of being a single mom can feel overwhelming. Stop, breath, and start with these simple steps to getting your finances under control.

3 Tips For Surviving Financially As a Single Mom

1. Stop incurring new debt.  If you’re in the red hole, the first step is to simply stop digging deeper. It’s just not possible to get out of debt if you keep creating more. It might be easier for a while to just stop using credit cards in order to not incur any new debt. Every day that you don’t add to your debt is another day closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. If you find that you can’t get to the end of the month without incurring debt, Step 2 below will help.

2. Budget every dollar. I know, it’s a dirty word to many, but I turned my financial life around when I got serious about budgeting. One of the reasons we find ourselves out of control financially is because we don’t have clarity on what goes in and what goes out. Even if you think you know, you never really do until you track your income and expenses and account for every dollar. Mint is a free app that can help, but I find YNAB to be worth every penny (plus, you get a free month trial to then budget how to pay for the app).

If apps don’t appeal, there’s always pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or even a Word doc to get you started. You can round up to the nearest dollar, but you may be surprised on just where those dollars have been going! It will help you figure out where you really can cut back, and where you can’t. YNAB uses the zero-based budgeting method (this method can be used with or without the program) and the concept is, you can only budget the dollars you have. If you’ve been budgeting by assuming your income and expenses, it will take some adjustment to get used to this new method, but it will be well worth it to get you on a more solid financial footing.

3. Beware the Single Mom Guilt.  I have been there. I have felt so guilty about my marital status that I’ve spent more than I could afford, trying to overcompensate. But after using my tax refund to pay off credit card debt, and then building up debt, and then paying it off, and then doing it again, I finally had enough. And I realized that throwing money at the problem wasn’t really helping.

The more financially stable we became, the less stressed I was. The less stressed I was, the happier my girls were. The happier my girls were, the more we could simply enjoy being together and not have to spend so much money on cable, on outings, on activities they weren’t really enjoying. Instead, my oldest daughter helped out at the dance studio to get a break on tuition.

My youngest daughter shops at Goodwill when she needs new leggings. We come up with solutions together when we hit financial blocks. And if you feel bad for saying, I can’t afford it, try saying, “sorry, that’s not in our budget right now” instead. A small difference, sure, but it takes the focus off the negative part, and reminds both you and your child that you have financial goals.

Of course, personal finance is always personal, and you will have to make some difficult decisions, but try to remember, that’s true for most of us! Divorced or not, kids or not, we all can only work with what we actually have. And you may find that there simply isn’t enough. If things are that tight, you may need to look into increasing your income.

I ended up going back to school once it became clear to me that I was never going to make it on my salary as an Assistant. So I went back to school, got my Paralegal certificate, and got promoted. I took out some student loans and was able to get reimbursed through my employer’s educational assistance program for some of it. Thankfully, my interest rate on my student loan is low, but I am currently throwing any and all “extra” money into paying that off. So far, I’m paid a year ahead.

If going back to school is not an option, consider freelancing. Please do NOT pay for any “work from home” opportunities. But there are things like ride-sharing services, babysitting, and e-commerce sites. I have a friend who has done very well with her Etsy shop!

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on when it comes to managing your money: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

Our family has gone from surviving to thriving, and I can trace it back almost to the day that I was absolutely done with the paycheck-to-paycheck struggle. I am now a month ahead financially, and having that breathing room definitely, helps when we get hit with a new financial problem.

I am out of credit card debt completely, and we even went to New York this spring to see Hamilton, all completely paid for in cash. (I do use credit cards again, but only for the rewards, and I have auto pay set up to pay the balance in full every month so that I don’t pay any interest.)

It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s also true that money can’t buy the previous, married, 2-parent household, either.

It’s also our job to teach our children about personal finance. As with everything else, they will learn these lessons by our actions, and not our words. If you want your children to have a healthy relationship with money, it’s time to have your own healthy relationship with it, too.

You’ve totally got this!

The post 3 Ways Single Moms Can Survive Financially appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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12 Survival Tips to Help You Survive Divorcing a Narcissist

12 Survival Tips to Help You Survive Divorcing a Narcissist

It WON’T be easy, but it WILL be worth it.

The post 12 Survival Tips to Help You Survive Divorcing a Narcissist appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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