Saturday, June 4, 2011

Single Parenting: Teamwork is Essential Part I

It’s perfectly natural to want to shield your kids from the effects of divorce. There is a very strong inclination to try to maintain their lifestyle as much as possible. You want their lives to be the same as they were before separation.

Except it isn’t the same, and it never will be.

If you’re facing a significant decline in income, you need to set a workable budget as soon as possible. You may have to face the fact that lessons, soccer, and other activities may need to be curtailed or even eliminated. You may need to revamp your food strategy by cooking a lot more at home and passing right by Starbucks.

Most importantly, you need to sit down with your kids and have an honest discussion about the changes that need to be made. Talk about what’s possible and what isn’t. They’ll whine and complain about how it just isn’t fair, but that’s what kids do. They’ll adjust and thrive.

You may need to replace a teenager’s iPhone service with a pre-paid cell phone*. It isn’t as cool as an iPhone, but it gets the job done. You may have to do away with extended cable. Upgrading game systems when new ones come out may no longer be possible.
* Yes, I know you could do away with cell phones, but they are an absolutely essential communication tool for single parents. No guilt here.
This is also when you need to find your spine and reinforce it.

The good news is that you’ll all be fine without the extras. Really.

You also need to realize that you can’t do everything by yourself. You’ll drive yourself to exhaustion and insanity. This is where teamwork comes in.

You and Your Kids Must Form a Team

You are the coach and the captain. Your kids must become team members who help out and make things run smoothly. Trips to the grocery store must be a team effort. If they’re small, have them get lightweight, reachable items off the shelf and put them in the cart. Show them how to find things in the store. When they get older, you can send each of them to different parts of the store for different items. Have them help put items on the conveyor belt. Have them help put bags in the cart and load the car. They should help unload and put away groceries as well, within their abilities. They’ll whine and complain (at first) about how it just isn’t fair, but that’s what kids do. They’ll adjust and thrive.

And when they move out on their own, grocery shopping won’t be a big mystery.

Initially, forming a team takes some extra time and effort, but the results are well worth it. Remember that spine.

Because you really, really, can’t do everything by yourself.

More about team building in part II.

1 comment:

  1. I wished my parents had a talk with me when the separated and then later on divorced.I never got the picture of what happened until I was half way done with middle school, when they separated while I was still in elementary school. The only memories I have of the time was the two of them arguing, then dad walking out the door and never coming back. Though I am glad my sister didn't experience that since she was just a baby at the time.
    I agree with you on the household teamwork, it makes things move smoother and it can make every day things a lot more fun. Such as cleaning the house and grocery shopping. My mom always got us to help with the grocery shopping and took us to the farmers market and now it's one of my favorite things to do. I look forward to it every Saturday and Sunday.


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