*This is a sponsored post. All ideas are my own, all suggestions are just what works for my family**
I’m going to begin this post by saying how pants splitting up a marriage is.
Obviously, everybody’s circumstances are different, everyone’s fears and struggles are different, and everyone’s reason for ending their marriage, are different.
I’m writing these ways to still be a family when you’re separated assuming that your situation is safe, your children are safe, and you just can’t get along with your partner any longer.
When I realised my marriage wasn’t going to work, one of my biggest sorrows was that my children wouldn’t have a nice tidy nuclear family, but it’s no longer uncommon for marriages to end, and families to be split.
When my ex-husband and I discussed it and put aside all of our hurt and disappointment relating to our marriage breakdown we knew that the children’s feeling of stability was a paramount concern for both of us, so we needed to work hard in order to allow them to still feel like they were part of a family unit although we were no longer together.
When you love someone enough to marry them and have kids with them, over time you learn each other’s trigger points and it’s easy, and sometimes mildly satisfying, to poke them with a red hot iron but as with most conflict, it’s often better to walk away and process stuff logically rather than being reactionary.
Share a meal together regularly
Whether it’s birthdays or holidays, or just an organised family meal together once a month, it’s important to all spend time together as a family unit, if you can. You don’t have to be BFFs but be civil and pleasant and show your kids that although you may not live together any longer, you are both still friends and you enjoy spending time with the kids all together as a family.
This not only helps your kids still feel part of a family unit, but it also models for them how to behave when they break up with boyfriends or partners in the future.
Remember we are our kids biggest examples of human behavior, so we need to lead by example of good, well-adjusted, non-freaky human behaviour.
Do not fight or discuss your relationship issues in front of the kids
Because you know each other so well, and then you separate, it’s likely that a)can push each other’s buttons or b)still have issues that make you nuts, so be mindful not to fight about things in front of the children. Your children are your joint beating heart, so why would you want to hurt them by involving them in your issues?
It’s ok to still have unresolved issues that you’re trying to work through, and it’s probably likely that sometimes things come up and tempers flare because you broke up for a reason, right? But it’s better to walk away, step away from the button pushing when your blood rises and speak about it later when kids aren’t around.
I find email is a good way not to lose my cool over an issue that makes me passionate.
Go as a family to an event the kids will enjoy
If there is a particular movie or stage show the kids are interested, go all together sometimes. Grab an ice cream after. It’s only a few hours and then you can go your separate ways again but it will give the kids a sense of fun surrounding the family unit. They will have happy memories of doing nice things tougher even though you’re no longer living in the same house.
Be a united front at school
If there are special school events, first days, teacher meetings, it’s important that both parents show an interest and the children know that you are both there and invested in their social life and academic life. The same goes for extracurricular activities. Both of you should be there to cheer and clap.
You don’t have to hug or high five if you don’t fancy it, just let your kids see you there and know that you are both there for them.
The Australian parenting website, Raising Children Network, is a fantastic resource website packed full of information about childrearing. Whether you’re looking for information on how to set up a balanced co-parenting schedule, or helping your children adjust to two homes after separation there is a wealth of information so you needn’t navigate the murky waters alone.
Bear in mind that my “family time” did not happen immediately, and to be honest, sometimes it goes completely pear shape and we need to start back at the beginning and remember why we’re doing it, but as with everything worthwhile in life perseverance, patience and love will get you there in the end.