Naming what you’re grateful for can be a wonderful bedtime practice with your children. Each night, before bed, just take turns sharing something you are thankful for. Anything goes. There are no rules.
Just name anything you are grateful for in your life. It can be butterflies, refrigerators, your cat, hugs, ice cream, sunshine, your car, your health, music, friends, whatever.
By starting this now with your kids, you’re creating a lifelong habit for them. And remembering to appreciate all the beauty and love and conveniences you have in your life reminds you what really matters to you and how amazing your life is. There is always something to be thankful for.
I encourage you to write down (or name) ten things every day that you’re grateful for. Ten things. If ten is a challenge, start with five and work your way up to ten. They don’t all have to be different every time.
The point is just to acknowledge what you appreciate and to recognize how much there is to be thankful for, no matter how tough things may seem right now.
To really take this deeper, come up with one thing each day that you are grateful for as a result of your marriage ending. Don’t use this as a way to bash your former spouse. Truly look at what the positives are that have or will come from this experience.
Perhaps you have found strength you didn’t realize you possessed. Maybe the time you spend with your children is now more about quality and closeness. Have you learned how to handle the finances on your own? Have you learned to cook or made new friends?
Maybe you are growing as a person and will be a better parent going forward. This will help you gain some perspective on the situation and realize that some good has come from it.
Make gratitude an everyday practice. Thank you
In all that you do, be mindful of what you are teaching your children. It may sound cliché, but your actions really do speak louder than words. Remember that your kids will pay attention to what you do, regardless of what you say. And if you tell them to be a certain way or do a certain thing, but you don’t adhere to those same rules, they will notice.
Children are very impressionable and pick up on all that is going on around them like little sponges. In fact, they are often far more aware of what is happening between you and your ex than you may realize. They learn how to interact with others and what normal behavior is by observing us in our everyday lives.
Pay attention to what you’re saying and doing on a regular basis, and how it may affect your children. As you are more conscious of your actions and your words, you can begin to change them if you choose to.
As you go through challenging situations, you can decide what you want to teach your children and what you want them to learn from you for the times when they are faced with challenges in their own lives.
This may seem like a very dark, tough time for you right now, but I invite you to think about the opportunities that you have to teach some amazing qualities and characteristics to your children. You can be an amazing role model for them.
Refrain from making negative comments about your former partner, even if they say negative things about you. Show compassion, understanding, and patience. All of these traits will be passed on to your children.
Communicate in a positive, effective manner to demonstrate your desire to work together and do what’s best for everyone involved. Your children will see that and they will learn to do the same in their own interactions as they go through life.
Take a stand for what you believe in and what matters most to you. You’ll be modeling that behavior for your kids. I know it’s hard, and I know it may seem right now that it doesn’t make much of a difference, but trust me, it does, and it will.
And when your children are adults, they will remember how you behaved and what you did or didn’t do that helped your family get through a trying time. They will appreciate and respect you and want to emulate you, as they will see what a difference it has made in their lives. And you can be proud of what you’ve done and have no regrets. It’s totally worth it.
So think about what you’re teaching and modeling before you think or act. Decide what you want your children to learn from you and how you want to be remembered. Be a role model to everyone around you. It’s time for divorce to be a more harmonious process and you can lead the way.
How do you find a good divorce attorney? More importantly, how do you find the right divorce attorney for you and your situation? My bias is toward something called Collaborative Divorce because it embodies my beliefs about how a divorce should be handled – with the family’s best interests at the center and with the couple themselves making the decisions about their future, with guidance and support.
I think our judicial system is not well-equipped to deliver the best solutions for most families, and unfortunately too often the legal representatives fuel the fire rather than helping people move forward.
The people you choose to handle the legal aspects of your divorce can have an enormous impact on every facet of your life, both short-term and long-term. It’s crucial that you understand your options and the possible outcomes.
The first step is to get very clear on the outcome you want. There are the obvious things that parents usually focus on: a certain custody arrangement, a particular amount of money, various assets and possessions. These are all important to consider. However, I urge you to look deeper and think farther down the road.
Imagine the living conditions you want for your children at your home AND at your former partner’s home. It’s ideal for both places to be comfortable. Imagine how you want the transitions between homes to be for your kids – simple and smooth or tense and complicated?
Think about how much money you’re willing to spend arguing over something that may not be worth very much in the end. Decide if you want to take a chance going to court and allowing a judge who has never met you to determine the fate of you and your children. I urge you to give this serious consideration and discuss it with your ex.
I also recommend only listening to the advice of others whose relationships and lifestyles you admire and respect. If your friend recommends an attorney and you know they had a nasty, drawn-out battle over finances that left them bitter enemies, maybe that’s not the attorney for you.
There are fantastic options for couples who don’t want to drag each other through the mud or have a long, costly court battle. And the costs are not just financial – they’re also emotional and psychological. And for your children, they could be life-long.
Collaborative Divorce attorneys work with both partners to come to an agreement that’s in the best interest of the entire family, and you don’t go to court. In the full-team approach, in addition to the two attorneys, a Collaborative Divorce team includes a financial expert, one or two divorce coaches, and sometimes a child specialist.
I have completed the Collaborative Divorce training and I believe in it fully. I think eventually it will be the most common choice for couples going through divorce because it is a more gentle, caring, respectful approach to a difficult situation. I also belong to the IACP (International Association of Collaborative Professionals) and the NCACDP (North Carolina Association of Collaborative Divorce Professionals) because I want to support and promote this process as much as possible.
Collaborative Divorce Law is a much more holistic approach to divorce than the more traditional family law. The website www.CollaborativePractice.com explains in more detail what the collaborative process is, and has a search function to find collaborative professionals near you.
Some attorneys offer the ability to work together outside of court, even if they don’t have the full-team model. Be sure to ask about all of your options before going forward with a professional.
Summer schedules are often quite different from the school year routine. Summer is full of outdoor activities, swimming pools, get-togethers with friends, vacations, visits with family, later bed-times and sleeping in.
Transitioning back into a ‘regular’ school routine can be stressful for parents and kids. There are new teachers, sometimes new schools and new schedules. Try to minimize other changes and stresses during this time so you and your children can ease back into a consistent routine.
Tips for a smoother back-to-school transition:
- Slowly adjust your children’s bedtimes to get ready for school starting. It will be easier to gradually change bed-time than suddenly trying to get your kids to go to sleep two hours earlier than they have been over the summer months.
- Talk occasionally in the couple weeks beforehand about what to expect once school starts, so your kids can start preparing mentally. Don’t spring it on them at the last minute.
- Talk ahead of time with your former partner about how you’re going to handle the new schedule – the drop-off, the pick-up, homework, after-school time, school events, school supplies, other outside activities, sharing information from school, etc.
- Be sure both of you are involved in the plan so both of you can talk with your children about it. Being on the same page and appearing as a united front is very comforting to children.
- Do not argue about the schedule/plan in earshot of your kids. This is very damaging and upsetting to children.
- Show excitement about school starting. Don’t complain about the logistics or the school supply lists. Be mindful of the example you’re setting and the attitude you want your kids to have as they begin a new school year.
- Let your children’s teachers know the situation at home and let them know you’re interested in their feedback. Most teachers appreciate this because it helps them understand your kids better and enables them to better serve them. It will also help you assess how your children are doing with the divorce.
- Find out if your child’s school has a program for kids going through divorce. Many schools do. It’s helpful for children to know they’re not the only ones in this situation. Plus they are more likely to share their experiences with their peers in a private, safe environment.
- If you only have your children with you on the weekends, be proactive and ask about what’s going on at school so you can be as involved as possible. See if you can help out with homework questions (over the phone or skype). Many schools allow parents to sign up for times they can have lunch with their children.
- If you have your children during the weekdays, share the information you get from school with the other parent. Keeping them informed builds trust and allows them to be a better parent for your kids, whereas keeping them out of the loop ultimately hurts your children.
- Recognize that there may be a few bumps or hiccups in the first few weeks as everyone adjusts to the new schedule, so cut yourself and your kids a little slack. Give your children encouragement and a few extra hugs. Take a deep breath before interacting with your ex, and focus on staying positive. Go easy on your self – relax and enjoy the journey
Here’s a video blog about self-care when you’re in the midst of a divorce or separation. Learn just how important it is to take care of yourself FIRST, and what you need to be focusing on so you can get through this transition period with fewer bumps and bruises. Love yourself!!
When couples divorce, they often have a set schedule for when the children are with each parent, and if they live in the same area, this usually includes an every-other-weekend component.
I want to make a suggestion – no, really this is a plea! – to be flexible and generous when it comes to special days like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and birthdays.
If you’re the mom and Father’s Day falls on “your” weekend with the kids, please be open to rearranging the schedule a bit so your kids can spend time with their dad on Father’s Day. Maybe you share the weekend before and the weekend of. Or maybe the kids go over to their dad’s for a portion of the day.
If that won’t work, then be creative. Maybe you can plan for another day (they’re scheduled to be with Dad) to be “Father’s Day” for them.
My next plea is that you help your kids be able to either purchase a card for Dad or make him one. I realize you’re no longer married and you may feel like this shouldn’t be your job any more. But it’s not about you doing something nice for your former husband; it’s about doing something for your children.
Your kids will feel really good about being able to present something to Dad when they see him. It will also foster more goodwill between you and your children. They will appreciate you supporting a positive relationship with their dad, even if they aren’t able to articulate it. Believe me, it makes a huge difference!
And, to the dads who are reading this: please do the same thing when Mother’s Day or your ex-wife’s birthday rolls around. I know you may not have been the one in the family who made sure cards were purchased, or made, or sent, but please be more mindful of the times when cards or gifts might be appropriate, and encourage and help your kids to get or create them.
My daughter spent some time at my house on Friday after school making a very cool Father’s Day card for her dad. She was excited to show it to me, and I let her know how beautiful and creative I thought it was. I want her to feel comfortable sharing these types of things with me.
If your kids are afraid to share positive thoughts with you about their other parent, they will pull back from you, and your relationship with them will suffer. Open, supportive communication is best, and will result in the happiest, closest family possible.
So go ahead and mark your calendar for those days you know are important to your former spouse, and make the effort to support your children in enjoying those days with them. This won’t just be good for your ex; it will be good for ALL of you.
This is a video blog about changing your perspective when you’re in the midst of a divorce or separation. Find out how being curious can lead to a much more positive outcome for you and your family. And while you’re at it… uncross those arms!!
So Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and we’ve been seeing the hearts and candies and cards and other popular Valentine gifts for weeks now. Seems like the red and pink overtook all the store displays as soon as Christmas was over, right?
Valentine’s Day can be stressful and often disappointing, even for people in relationships. There are hopes and expectations, insecurities, comparisons to co-workers, friends, people on TV. Some people really care about giving or receiving gifts, or having a special get-together, and others don’t think it’s very important.
We’ve probably all been in the situation of not knowing what to get our partner, or wondering if our partner is going to get us something, or feeling disappointed because the day or gift or time together wasn’t what we’d hoped for. Maybe we wanted romance, or a night without the kids, or sex, or dinner, or just a card and a sweet “I love you”.
And with no partner on Valentine’s Day, now what? Pity party for one? Not a good plan.
Valentine’s Day is about love. There’s no rule that says it has to be about romantic love. Ignore the media hype and all the money-making crap everywhere, and make this day about love for you and your kids.
Tip: Be sure to plan ahead so you’re not trying to figure out what to do the night before. The point is to avoid falling into the trap of feeling alone or somehow inferior because you’re not currently in a wonderful, fairy-tale relationship. Our society places too much emphasis on getting the perfect gift and having the most romantic night, and not enough emphasis on caring for others and sharing from the heart.
Here are some suggestions for what to do to make Valentine’s Day special this year, regardless of your relationship status:
• Make a list of all the people you love. Your kids, your parents, friends. Next to each one, write down at least one reason you love them. I bet they’d love to get a card or note or email from you on Valentine’s Day letting them know. Include the reason(s) why you love them – it will make it special for them.
• If you have friends who are also single, plan something fun with them. Plan a dinner out or at one of your homes. If you’ve got kids, either get babysitters or include them. Maybe everyone can bring a dish, and you can all make Valentine’s for each other. The kids will enjoy this and it will keep them busy for a while.
• Plan something special with your children that’s all about love and gratitude. Make cards for each other and make a special treat like cookies or cupcakes that you can decorate for Valentine’s Day. Take turns telling each other all the things you love about each other and then all the other things you love in your life – friends, favorite foods, activities, dolls, sports, books, flowers, pets, snow, biking, trucks, etc.
• Love yourself. Express this love by pampering yourself in some way. Yes, the men too. This could be a massage, a bath, curling up with a good book, watching a movie you’ve been wanting to see, eating out, exercising, having some beer or wine while you do something relaxing, working on a project you rarely have time for but enjoy doing, going to a class (yoga, cooking, art, etc).
• Give yourself a gift. Get some flowers and put them in a place where you can enjoy them the most. Get a new CD and listen to it while you dance or sing along. Get a new book and start reading it. Get a DVD and watch it. Pick up dinner so you don’t have to cook. Get a new article of clothing or some sporting equipment. There’s nothing wrong with providing yourself with the things you want or enjoy. It’s called self-care and it’s an important life skill to learn and practice.
Regardless of what you choose to do, remember that you are loved (by relatives and friends), and this one day changes nothing. You can make it a fun, enjoyable day if you focus on who and what you love, and you don’t worry about what anyone else is or isn’t doing.
Much love to you on Valentine’s Day and every day!!
And to let in all the new stuff, we’re going to need to let go of some old stuff. This means cleaning up the areas of your life that may not be working so well.
You may need to clean up your physical space – clear out some clutter, get rid of clothes you don’t wear, get organized, clean out your garage, etc.
You may have relationships that need to be cleaned up – clear up any misunderstandings or unresolved issues with others, let go of or reduce your interaction with people that are no longer a positive addition to your life, let those you care about know how you feel, etc.
You may have financial issues that need attention – get clear on your financial situation and take responsibility for it, stop avoiding the issues or blaming outside circumstances, let go of bad spending habits, etc.
You may have a lot of mental clutter that’s holding you back – get clear on what’s truly important to you and let the rest go, reduce your stress with exercise, sleep and fun activities, put your attention on what you want rather than what you don’t want, etc.
You may have decisions you’ve been avoiding making or actions you’ve been avoiding taking because they’re scary or uncomfortable – get through them as early in 2011 as possible and you will feel enormous relief and an increase in energy.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think they work. How many have you made that you’ve actually stuck to and accomplished? I bet not many. That’s because they’re set up to fail.
Here’s how resolutions work: You look at what you’re unhappy about in your life and you make a resolution to improve those things, right? Let’s take a common example – weight loss. Let’s say you’re not happy with your current weight or current level of fitness, so you resolve to exercise at least 4 days a week.
Most likely you’ll start off strong. You’ll go to a gym or set up a regular workout schedule with a friend or at home. And then you’ll gradually start losing momentum, or there will be a week when something unusual happens, like a trip or company visiting or a sick child. And before you know it, your 4 days a week have dwindled to 1 or 2.
And then the negative self-talk kicks in. You’re even more unhappy with yourself now than before because now you feel like a failure. You haven’t even been able to stick with your plan for more than a few weeks. And with the self-criticism and self-blame, you’re likely to fall into even more unhealthy habits which will be counter-productive to losing weight.
Do you see how this is a vicious cycle?
So here’s what I do instead and I highly recommend it!
Instead of focusing on what I’m unhappy with in my life, I first look at all the things I’m happy about. I really take note of them and feel deep gratitude.
Next I imagine what my ideal life would be. And I don’t mean pie-in-the-sky stuff. I mean a realistic picture of how I’d like my life to look. For example, a close, loving relationship with my daughter, wonderful friends I spend time with regularly, work I’m excited about doing each day, a healthy, fit body that allows me to pursue all the activities I enjoy, plenty of energy, a comfortable home where I feel safe and relaxed, and so on.
You can get very detailed too. For example, earning at least $80,000 per year, taking at least 3 vacations, growing a thriving vegetable garden your back yard, reading at least 12 new books, writing a book, getting a wonderful new business partner, etc.
Write down all that you want in 2011. Be specific and clear. Try to avoid negatives. In other words, don’t say “no more back pain” (because this focuses the mind on “back pain”). Instead, say “a healthy, strong back” or “a healthy body that allows me to be active and comfortable”.
Write it in present tense, as if you already have it. So instead of saying “I will make $80,000 this year” or “I will write a book”, say “I make $80,000 and I am the author of a best-selling book”. This helps anchor the desires in the mind and makes them more real.
Let’s go back to the weight loss example. Instead of saying “I will lose weight” or “I have lost weight”, say something in the positive, like “I am my ideal weight” or “my body is healthy and fit, and I feel confident and attractive”. Do you see what a huge difference there is in those statements?
By focusing on that (a healthy fit body that feels good) instead of a resolution to workout 4 days a week, there’s a lot more room for success. There’s not the same pressure or stress of trying to stick to a schedule, but the mind is thinking about being fit. This affects the whole body.
Awareness, focus and intention are incredibly powerful.
Think about this: when you get a new car, don’t you start noticing that exact car EVERYWHERE? It’s as if you are attracting them, right? Why is that? It’s because it’s at the forefront of your mind. You are aware of it (unlike before) and you are focused on it. If you put your attention on what you want in life, you will start to notice it and attract it.
If you are focused on feeling and being more fit, you will start to make different choices throughout the day that will help you move toward that fitness. It’s a natural progression.
I’m not saying you can just sit at home and think about what you want, and it will magically fall out of the sky and into your lap. Action is necessary. But you will be able to take the appropriate actions much more easily if you are focused on the end result that you desire, and grateful for where you are today.
So chuck those New Year’s Resolutions and decide what your 2011 is going to look like! I’ve already decided – mine is going to be amazing!! Care to join me?
I just turned 40 last week and I spent some time reflecting on my life so far – all the things I’ve done, some things I’ve not done. What I’m proud of, what I’m not so proud of. What matters most to me, what I want for this next year of my life.
I also thought about how perfectly everything happens in our lives, even though we can rarely see it at the time. From love to heartbreak, joy to sadness, every experience teaches us what we need to learn at that time.
I’m currently going through a process of letting go. Letting go of all that is not serving my highest good. There’s actually a lot that fits in that category and it’s a little scary. For example, I’ve got some fears that I’m ready to let go of so I will no longer be held back by them. I’ve got some physical clutter that I want to let go of because I hate seeing it around my house and it adds stress to my life. I want to feel at peace in my home.
I’ve got some old beliefs created in my childhood that no longer make sense in my life, but keep me feeling stuck or reacting in ways I don’t want to. I’ve got some emotional baggage from past relationships (with friends, romantic partners, family members) that I’m ready to release so it no longer has a hold on me.
Letting go can be difficult. But the rewards are great.
When we let go of anything that’s weighing us down, hurting us, or simply not serving us, we create space for something else to come into our lives. A new relationship, a new belief, a new confidence, a new perspective, a new joy, a new mindset.
When going through divorce, there is a lot to let go of and you certainly don’t have to do it all at once. But letting go is the key to moving forward, to finding peace, to enjoying life.
Let go of negative emotions (anger, resentment, guilt, shame, etc). Let go of the expectations and hopes you had for your marriage. Let go of the desire to change the past. Let go of the need to control. Let go of blame. Let go of self-criticism. Let go of competing. Let go of old clothes, old jewelry, old objects that are no longer useful or meaningful to you.
And as you let go, you will open to receive. It is almost magical how it happens.
You will create space and it will be filled. And you will be pleasantly surprised. You will discover that you can feel joy again, that wonderful things do happen to you and that letting go doesn’t mean losing anything.
For assistance in letting go of old beliefs that are keeping you stuck, I offer breakthrough sessions that enable you to quickly discover what’s holding you back and release it so you can move forward in your life. Ask me for details!