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November 28, 2007
Avoiding the dreaded drive for forgotten homework
How many times have you recevied that call?  "Mom.....I forgot my homework at your house, and it's due tomorrow!"  It invariably comes at some late hour or right when you are on your way out the door.  Whenever it happens to me, it seems to come when I'm already running late to something.  Voila, enter modern technology.  My daughter has entered middle school.  So many of her assignments are required to be typewritten.  So we've set up a folder on the computer for her stuff and she puts everything in it.  So last night when that call came, I was able to just flip a switch, attach a file so easily located in her own folder, click send (I'm talking about email of course), and boom it's done.  No arguing with my ex about who is responsible for making sure she had it.  No arguing about who is going to drive it over.  No making her feel bad for being "irresponsible".  No making us feel bad because she's put in this awkward position of having two houses to live in in the first place.  Now, if only I could figure out how to email that science project she's been building in the basement!

November 26, 2007
Do I have to buy my ex a gift?
Oh my what a question.  Do I have to buy my ex a holiday gift?  Well, no, of course not. Unless of course you have kids together.  And then, you really aren't buying your ex a gift, but rather you are buying your kids some education.  Nobody said it had to be elaborate, but you need to buy it, or help your kids save up to buy it, so they learn the act of giving.  It is so they learn to be respectful of their parents.  It is a great education teaching them how to put differences aside and do the right thing.  That $19.99 you spend on your ex is a bargain for the lessons it will instill in your children.  Do it.  It won't kill you!  I promise!

November 24, 2007
Handling Kids and the Holidays After a Divorce

I get asked lots of questions about how to handle this or that about split-family living scenarios.  But the questions that I get the most often undoubtedly have to do with how to handle the holidays.  It isn't easy, but you must remember to put your kids first.  I'm posting an article I've sent out over and over, because it seems to help so much.  Enjoy!

But Christmas Doesnít Fall on Tuesday This Year???

How to Deal with Children and the Holidays After Your Divorce

So you think youíre moving along and adapting to your new split-family living situation.You take your children to their Mom on Tuesday and youíll see them again on Saturday.It is a bumpy cycle and much to be learned, but youíre getting the hang of it.Then what do you spy on your calendar as you turn the page?  The next major holiday doesnít fall on Tuesday?It doesnít fall on Saturday, Sunday or Monday either.You realize you are going to have to go dig out those divorce papers and see what year it is and if itís odd or even and if you get to see your children or if youíll be attending that function without kids in tow.So what can you do to make split-family living better during the holidays?

  1. Communicate.Communication is key to everything, and the holidays are no exception.Talk to your kids and ex-spouse.Maybe the every other year thing is too confusing.Maybe your kids are feeling left out.They might even feel guilty that Mom or Dad is alone.See if you can work on a schedule that works better.Some families opt to split the holidays by time, so that a child is with one parent until 2:00 and the other for the remainder of the day.Some opt to split the holidays so that the kids know that every Thanksgiving they will be with Mom and her family for the entire day, but that every Easter or some other holiday they spend it with Dad and his family.That allows traditions to build and nobody has to stop right in the middle of the fun.
  2. Put your differences aside.Maybe for a day, an hour, but do whatever you can.If you can manage to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins great.If you can only handle opening gifts all together, so be it.If it means sharing a piece of holiday pie and some eggnog, great!Any amount of time you can spend all together will be the biggest gift you can possibly give to your kids.Remember you are doing it for them.
  3. Plan Ahead.Donít be agreeing to the schedule the night before.Inevitably there will be a child eating back to back turkey if there is no plan.
  4. Be flexible and reasonable, and keep your word.If you plan to have your child home at 2:00 and itís 2:15, donít make a big fuss to your ex-spouse.Things have a way of taking a little longer than expected during the holidays.But donít purposely ignore the agreed upon schedule.That only sets your child up to be caught in the middle of your frustrations.
  5. Agree on gift giving methods.Will you each be buying gifts separately or together?Will you coordinate so you donít both give the same thing?Who will take the children shopping to purchase gifts for each of their parents?How will they be paid for?It is perfectly acceptable to teach your children the art of giving, even if it means you are buying a robe for your ex-wife.
  6. Establish new traditions.You can incorporate old ones if you wish, but it might be time to start some new ones.Maybe every holiday morning you will serve homemade cinnamon rolls. Maybe birthdays will now always be celebrated by waking up with balloons.It is good to incorporate new so that whatever might be missing from the old might not be as missed.
  7. Let the love shine.Allow your child to communicate with the missing parent. Maybe it will be a quick telephone call, maybe it will be a quick pick up to walk around the block.In any case, your child is possibly celebrating a holiday without one of the most important people in their life.Itís okay for them to want to share part of it with them.

November 22, 2007
Celebrating Thanksgiving as a Single Mom
It's Thanksgiving.  It's not quite the Thanksgiving I envisioned when I first got married and had children.  I envisioned packing up my side dishes and pies, kids in the car and heading off to my Mom's house for a hustling, bustling day.  Well it isn't working out that way.  My Mom moved out of state.  I got a divorce.  So what's a gal to do.  One year I made a dinner just for my kids and I.  It was beautiful and elegant, but somehow it was a little bit empty.  I am fortunate that I have my kids every year, all day for Thanksgiving.  They spend the entire Easter holiday with their Dad.  So we've started some new traditions.  We have a wonderful "gratititude" service at our church, so we attend that at 10a.m. in the morning.  Then we come home and continue our cooking traditions.  Now, we always include our beautiful friends.  Either we go to a group gathering like this year, a neighbor rented the community clubhouse and 30 of her friends are coming, or we invite "holiday orphans" to our house.  We laugh, we play, and we don't tangle with any family odditys that sometimes seem to spur during the holidays.  (We save that for Christmas ; ))  If we are having a fabulous time, great.  If we are done early enough, we take in a movie at the Movie Theatre.  We just love it. Sometimes it seems silly to be thankful for being divorced.  But really I am.  I would have never discovered just how beautiful it can be to spend Thanksgiving with people that we choose to have in our life, our friends!

November 20, 2007
Putting Differences Aside During the Holidays- For Your Kids' Sake

 It might not be easy, but I try to always think about putting my differences aside for the kids' sake, especially during the holidays.  Maybe it's for a day, or an hour.  But do whatever you can.  If you can manage to share some holiday pie after Thanksgiving Dinner great. If you can share a cup of eggnog at Christmas, even better.  If you can open all of your gifts together that's even better.  Any amount of time that you can manage to put your differences aside is the biggest gift you can give your kids.  It teaches them about doing the "right thing". It shows them that people can really get along if they set their minds to it.  Most of all it teaches them that you both think they are worth your time and effort.  Remember, you aren't doing it to win mother of the year award.  You aren't doing it to make me happy.  You are doing it for your kids, because it will mean a lot to them.  Do something as a family, be sincere, and watch them glow.  It might be a 20 minute ride in the car to look at holiday lights, but at least it's something.  My kids look forward to the few holiday traditions that we do as a family, from the pumpkin patch at Halloween to the opening of gifts together on Christmas morning.  Try it.  You might find the benefit outweighs the difficulty.  Again, it's not about you and your ex.  It's about the kids.

November 16, 2007
How do I handle my kids adoring their Dad's Girlfriend?
The first time it happened I thought someone drove a knife right through my heart.  My kids dumped whatever it was we were doing and went RUNNING up the hill to greet their Dad.  Only it wasn't their Dad they were running for, it was his girlfriend.  They lept into her arms and gave her a big hug.  It was clear they adored her.  I was angry about it.  Really upset.  Though the girlfriends have changed a few times, the reaction always has been the same.  They adore whomever the girlfriend is.  The most recent one is so very good at buying the perfect gift for birthdays and such, and I'm left scratching my head thinking, "Why didn't I think of that, they're MY kids after all, I live with them?"  And though that gets under my skin just a touch, I've come to realize that I should be counting my blessings that they adore her.  What a great thing it is that my ex seems to have the knack to picking partners that really seem to adore his kids.  That they take the time to get to know them.  I now look at it as them having an extra resource.  Maybe someday they will really need to talk to someone, or confide, or get help.  Now they actually have an extra adult to turn to, and that adult is likely to actually let us the parents know if something is big going on.  So do I love that she always buys the better gifts?  No.  But do I love that she adores my kids?   Absolutely!

November 15, 2007
The Key to a Good Holiday Season After a Divorce With Kids

Are you wondering how you are going to have a good holiday season with your kids now that you are divorced?  I have discovered what the number one thing is that we can do to make it as good as it can be. Communicate.  Communication is key to everything, and the holidays are no exception.  Talk to your kids and ex-spouse.  Start figuring out what really will work best for your split family situation.  Maybe the every other year thing is too confusing. Maybe your kids are feeling left out. They might even feel guilty that Mom or Dad is alone. See if you can work on a schedule that works better. Some families opt to split the holidays by time, so that a child is with one parent until 2:00 and the other for the remainder of the day. Some opt to split the holidays so that the kids know that every Thanksgiving they will be with Mom and her family for the entire day, but that every Easter or some other holiday they spend it with Dad and his family.That allows traditions to build and nobody has to stop right in the middle of the fun. No matter what you decide, make sure that you communicate ALL the plans to both your ex spouse and your kids well ahead of time.  It helps your kids to know that they will have to be leaving the dinner at Grandma's before everyone else, ahead of time.  It helps to have any negotiations weeks in advance, and not on the day of the event, when emotions tend to be riding high.  So start figuring out all of your holiday plans now.

November 9, 2007
What's a Divorced Mom to do when she needs home repairs?
We've all heard of the woman getting ripped off when she takes her car into the auto mechanic, but what is she supposed to do when she needs home repairs or remodeling done?  I've come up with a system that minimizes some risk of that happening.  First, I always get three bids.  Since often I haven't the slightest idea what something should cost, I figure that out of three, I can usualy rule one out that is completely off the mark.  Also, if I'm going to have someone around, especailly if it's a project that might take a few days, I want to choose a personality that I like, and that isn't going to creep my kids out.  Often if I have two bids that are reasonably close, personality wins out.  Second, if at all possible, when I get the bids I try to have my kids gone, and a guy friend over.  I don't like to advertise to the whole world that I live alone with kids and also, I don't like them to get the idea that they can pull the wool over my eyes.  Lastly, I ALWAYS tell them I'm getting 3 bids.  That way they know they are competing for the work and that I will be comparison shopping.  Now the multiple bid part doesn't work so well if it's an appliance repair and there's a trip charge involved for a bid, nor does it work too well if the furnace went out in the winter.  But it does work a majority of the time, so I try to follow this process whenever I can.

November 9, 2007
New way to date as a single mom
I have decided that dating as a single mom is not that easy.  First there are the time constraints.  Hopefully you have a shared custody situation so you have some built in free time.  Next there is the issue of some men in the world thinking "easy", because you've given birth before. Then there is my least favorite issue, men running far away because kids might be considered "baggage".  So unfortunately what I have done in the past is just wait for someone interesting to come along.  The ones that do, aren't always the highest quality, and they eventually burn out anyway.  So I've decided to try a new approach.  I'm going to try to date three men at a time.  I don't mean have full relationships, but just "date" them.  So I plan to make coffee shop dates, lunch dates, and of course the typical weekend date.  My hope is that if I have 3 at a time to comparison shop, that I will actually be able to compare and contrast and stop comparing to the exes of my life.  It's so easy to use being a single mom as an excuse to be "lazy" about dating.  However I have come to the conclusion that like shopping at a second hand store, sometimes you have to look through a lot of clothes to find a gem, AND, you have to put in the time to sift through the racks!  We'll see how it goes..........

November 3, 2007
How do I deal with kids' clothes at two houses?
Living the split family life can certainly mean lots of split things.  I've seen the clothes issues handled several ways.  I've yet to figure out which one works best.  Some families have the kids "pack" to go over to the other parent's house.  That probably works out okay if they are just going over for the weekend or something.  My kids however, spend Tues-Sat with me, and Saturday afternoon through Tuesday after school with their Dad.  Often there may be a switch or two in between if someone has something unusual going on.  So to make our kids "pack" every single week for 3+ days at a time seems a little crazy.  Yet somehow it always manages to be  that "all of my jeans are at Dad's!"  How is that?  I've had it with shorts, jeans, jackets, shoes.  So something we've started trying, is that whatever you wear over to Dad's this week, you wear back to my house the next time it is clean.  So if they leave my house on Saturday, then not the first Tuesday they come back, but a week from Tuesday when they come back they are supposed to wear that.  It seems to work okay, as long as they remember what it is they wore.  That becomes the trick.  What seems to have happened is they have certain clothes that they use on "transition" days and that kind of keeps everything balanced.  That is of course until this time of the year when seasons change.  Then it always seems to me the jacket is at the wrong house.  Go figure!


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