The second part of the Q&A with Sheri Atwood. We sat down with Sheri and got the story behind SupportPay. You can read part one here.
If you were to give advice to newly single parents, what would you say?
First of all, I’d say, get help (or hire help) whenever you can. There are a lot of things that aren’t worth your time… outsource them if you can. Specifically, look into outsourcing laundry, housekeeping, and yard work. You can often get help for $25-$40 an hour on tasks like these and when your time with your kids is limited, it’s worth it if you can afford it. My daughter is ten now, so she goes to school full time. That means evenings and weekends when she is with me are sacred time. I don’t want to spend that time doing laundry.
I also think that it’s important to accept the fact that you’ll always have guilt. But the truth is, being a parent is hard and sometimes we need a break. When your kids are at your ex’s house, take a deep breath and remember that you’re getting a much-needed break and time to focus on yourself (or new relationships). Try to remove the guilt you feel about enjoying your free time and just actually enjoy it.
What are some things you learned from your divorce?
1. Put your kids first… ahead of your anger at your spouse. Divorce is tough on kids and at the end of the day, they need to know that it’s not their fault. They also need you to model acceptable relationships. That means you need to keep it cordial and business-like even when you’re steaming mad at your ex.
2. Allow your kids to form their own opinion about their parent. It’s entirely unfair for you to sway their opinion. Obviously you divorced for a reason, and that probably greatly changed your opinion of your ex. But your kids still need both parents involved and it’s okay (and actually good for them) to have quality relationships with both parents. Just because your ex wasn’t a good spouse for you doesn’t mean he/she is a bad parent. (And even if he/she is a terrible parent, keep your opinions to yourself! Your kids will figure it out on their own someday… and it’s better that way. Trust me.)
3. Keep a journal and write down why you decided to get a divorce and all the feelings that came from that. Your kids are too little to get in the middle now and what they need is stability. But there may come a day when your kids want to truly understand why you got divorced. If you keep a journal now, they will have some real insight down the road.
4. If you have a child with someone, you’re stuck with them for life. So figure out a way to make it work. You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to be nice. It’s not good for children to see their parents fighting… whether they’re married or divorced. So keep it cordial and business like. It will be better for everyone involved.