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DK Says.......


December 26, 2007
Christmas as a Single Mom
Yesterday was my ninth Christmas as a single Mom.  9!  Wow!  I never imagined that I would be divorced in the first place, let alone then single for another 9 Christmas seasons.  It's funny, I've always been longing to have that family holiday I had when I was married.  Now I've been divorced and on my own longer than I was married.  Yet somehow I still have that longing for a "normal" Christmas.  I started realizing last night that there is no such thing as "normal".  There is just now.  I began imagining that all across the country there were disjointed and dysfunctional families somehow coping through a family dinner.  There were Moms alone without their kids.  There were Dads alone without their kids.  There were kids that were probably having a great time, yet somewhere in the back of their minds feeling a bit guilty that their other parent might not be.  Yet after all of that contemplating I came to the conclusion, that a "normal" Christmas is whatever we make it.  In my case, normal means spending part of it alone, and fully enjoying those moments.  It also means anticipating the boundless energy once it walks through my front door and knowing that my kids are back and that this is our moment.  Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2007
What to do when your ex asks something crazy, but it's for the kids?
I thought I'd heard just about everything.  Then the other night I was returning from an outing and I checked my phone messages.  You guessed it, my darling ex had left a message.  You see my kids were leaving on a weekend journey to visit their grandparents out of state.  They would be driving the day after next.  But, you see, they were with me until then.  So his message asked me to have them pack and bring their duffle bags to school so he could pick them up right from there.  I was simply stunned.  I thought to myself, you mean you are going on a vacation, I stay home, I'm not married to you anymore, and I STILL have to pack for the kids for YOUR trip???  I started off being quite ticked off.  After all, he could have planned ahead and had them pack over the weekend, they were just there.  Then I realized, just like it is tough for the kids sometimes to think 3-4 days ahead, sometimes it's tough for us adults too.  So I had the kids pack.  I helped make sure they had everything.  I sent them on their way......bags in hand for school.  I decided that he didn't mean to be a crazy man, he just became victim of this crazy lifestyle we all have.  So my advice if your ex asks you to do something crazy.......count to 10 and decide if it's really worth making a scene about.  After all, it rarely hurts the ex, and only makes your kids uncomfortable.

December 20, 2007
Help Your Kids Share Feelings About Divorce and Shared Custody

I do not quite know how to share my frustration.  Parents who are divorced seem to want to put their heads in the sand when it comes to admitting that having their kids live between two homes is a difficult deal.  I understand that it isn't easy to be divorced, but it doesn't mean that we close our eyes to the difficulties kids may have to adjusting.  Yes, kids are tough.  Yes, kids adjust.  Yes kids are resiliant.  However, that doesn't mean that they don't have feelings.  They have feelings about missing their other parent while they are away.  They have feelings about forgetting their stuff.  They have feelings about missing their stuff.  They have feelings about following two sets of rules.  Over and over I have watched parents insist that their kids are fine.  Yet, when given the opportunity for kids to discuss their feelings, they open up and they share these kinds of feelings.  Do these feelings mean your child isn't adjusting?  No, hopefully not.  But it does mean that they have feelings that deserve to be heard.  It could be something comes out in such a conversation that you had no idea was even bothering your child, and maybe a simple phone call would resolve it.  If you are not sure how to discuss this with your child, I have developed a tool that will help.  I've written a book, We're Having A Tuesday, aimed at helping kids cope with their shared custody situation.  I feel so strongly about helping kids have their feelings heard, that I am giving it away for FREE for the next few weeks while supplies last.  I encourage you to get a copy........you just pay the shipping and handling.  The feedback I get over and over again, is how much it helps.  I would love to help you and hear your feedback.  Check it out at www.werehavingatuesday.com.  Listen to your kids, they will tell you amazing things.


December 14, 2007
Starting new holiday traditions with your kids after your divorce

The first holiday season after getting divorced can be the toughest.  There are so many things that just arenít the way they used to be.  If you always went to cut down a tree as a family, that might not be the same.  (Although it would be a great split-family activity if you can manage it!)  If you always drink hot cocoa while decorating the tree and Dad used to don a silly Santa hat, that might suddenly be missing.  So you can include some of them if you wish, but I donít recommend those that will obviously leave a gaping hole.  But what is fun is establishing some new ones.  Perhaps your ex didnít like movies, now maybe you can finally plan that Christmas Day outing to the movie theatre youíd always envisioned.  Maybe now you can have a live tree instead of an artificial.  Perhaps you can find a holiday recipe that becomes an annual treat.  Maybe every year you celebrate winter solstice by eating dinner by candle light and then going for a walk around the neighborhood.  Be creative.  The future is yours and new traditions are a wonderful way to welcome your new way of life.


December 12, 2007
Coping with being divorced and without your kids through the Holidays

It can be a lonely feeling.  You once had a spouse and family and the holiday season was full of hustle and bustle.  Now suddenly you find yourself by yourself at one of the most celebrated times of the year.  It can seem empty in your house when the kids are away.  The tree is still flashing but all of the giddiness has just left for your exís house for the next 4 days.  Itís okay to feel lonely.  But it is also okay to go out.  Nobody said that because your kids are gone that you must sit around and mope.  Find a support group.  Go to that office party.  Have a wine tasting out your own house Ė invite a few friends, tell them to each bring a bottle and an appetizer.  Take the opportunity to go shopping for your kids and get everything wrapped while you are in peace.  Take a dance class.  Plan a trip.  Find an online community that can relate to you. (www.divorce360.com is a good one!)  If you find you must feel lonely, move through it.  Go for a walk or a drive and check out the lights.  Turn on some music and just sway through it.  Movement will help wash those feelings through.  Journal.  I always find it interesting what comes up for me when I journal when I am home alone and my kids are away.  My best piece of advice: Call one of your friends who has their kids 24/7, listen to how badly they could use a break and realize that you are blessed to have time with yourself, to know yourself, feel yourself, and enjoy whatever life brings you.


December 10, 2007
Parents: Donít Catch Your Exís Stones During the Holidays

People are often asking me questions about handling the holidays.  In fact last year, CBS Early Show invited me on to discuss handling the holidays.  http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/15/earlyshow/living/parenting/main2272756.shtml

Since then Iíve worked with many more families on how to cope with this tough time of year.  The thing that always bothers me the most about the kinds of questions I get asked is that people seem to forget that we are dealing with kids.  Weíve made our choices.  We are now divorced.  Accept it.  Letís move on.  The more we drag up those grudges and angry feelings, the more we are making our children feel small inside.  Our kids donít want to have to think one parent is better than the other.  Our kids donít want to see one of our parents destroying the other.  They donít want to hear us argue or fight.  They just want to be loved and cherished by both of their parents.  When we spend time plotting to get even, or foil someone elseís holiday we are spending our energy in the wrong places.  Wouldnít it be much better to spend that energy at loving and sharing and teaching our kids how to be civil?  I often hear the response, but my ex just wonít cooperate, he/she is the one doing it.  Iím not suggesting we be doormats.  Iím suggesting that somehow, some way that we take the high road.  We kill them with kindness if we have to.  I learned once from a minister, ďIf someone throws a stone at you DONíT CATCH IT!  Just let it go, otherwise the tendency is to throw it back.Ē  For your kidsí sake, donít catch the stone.  They will learn so much from you by this example.  They will grow up and see the situation for what it really is without you trying to paint the picture worse than it really is.


December 8, 2007
Where should the kids live when we divorce?
There are so many ways to broach this subject these days.  When I divorced my ex and I thought maybe we should think a bit about what we were asking our kids to do.  We knew we were going to be doing a 4-3 split. (I have them 4 days he has them 3). So we bought a second home, a townhome to be exact.  We made sure it was to my liking and affordable by me in case it ended up I lived there.  That second townhome became the place that he and I shuffled back and forth to.  We left the kids in the family home and he and I did the traveling.  4 days a week I was in the family home while he parked himself at the townhome.  The other 3 he was at the family home while I parked at the townhome.  It was quite an enlightening experience.  We did this for about 6 months before we realized this wasn't going to work very well.  But at the same time we gained a very good understanding of what we were subjecting our kids to do.  It isn't pleasant to wake up and not realize which house you are in.  It isn't nice to realize that you left your briefcase on the kitchen counter of the family home when you are in a townhome.  Perhaps this 6 month experience is what made us so willing to be understanding of our kids forgetting things.  Perhaps it is what made us realize that what we were asking our kids to do wasn't as simple as it sounds on paper.  Perhaps it is what made us realize that we MUST be civil to each other because to be anything else really is making the kids pay for our poor decisions.  I recommend you try it.  You wil learn a lot about yourself, your ex, and the lifestyle you are preparing to subject your kids to.

December 6, 2007
Coping with the forgotten band instrument, lunch, etc.
Sometimes there is a fine line between teaching your kids responsibility and realizing that we are asking too much.  The other night at about 8:00 my son called saying he forgot his saxophone for band the next morning.  He asked if I could bring it to his Dad's or to class before 10a.m.  I said yes. Then in the morning it was me that completely forgot about it.  So before my son lef for school he called me again.  I immediately realized it was me who forgot it, but it was he who forgot it in the first place.  I started to rattle of some speech about responsibility and about how he needs to plan ahead and that I can't just go leaving my office in the middle of the day to bring him his forgotten "stuff".  Then I had a flash of reality.  It is a lot to ask a 10-year old to think 3 days ahead when they are getting ready to leave.  It is not normal for someone to live in two homes and have to "pack" and think ahead three days at a time.  It certainly isn't something that every kid has to do.  So before my tongue got away from me, I gently explained that even Mom's forget sometimes and that since he had been so responsible and remembered the night before to call and it was me that forgot, that I would be happy to leave the office and retrieve the sax and bring it to class.  He politely said thanks.........and then said, 'um, while you are at it, I forgot my lunch!'  I laughed at him and said to myself, I guess we are just having a day, and headed off to do the Mom-run for my morning break.

December 6, 2007
Do I give my ex keys to my house?

My ex and I live about 3 miles apart.  Our kids go to schools that are between us.  Our kids are young enough that giving them keys to cart around doesn't seem like a great idea.  We get along well enough that we have agreed to give each other our house keys.  That way if someone forgets something we aren't necessarily limited to the other being home.  (My ex is usually at his girlfriend's if the kids aren't with him).  We have agreed we don't just "pop" in.  We always call and make sure it is okay first.  Now that the kids are getting older I have placed a lock box outside with the keys in it.  They have them now with electronic keypads so you can change the combo as much as you like.  They are getting old enough now to remember the code.  I do this in case they are with friends or something and they need to come home for something.  However for those of us who don't feel comfortable handing over our keys to the ex, maybe a lockbox would help. 


December 2, 2007
Shared Custody: How do I keep the kids' calendar straight?
Let's face it.  Today's world is full of hustle and bustle for all of us.  Kids' schedules are about as crammed as the adults of our society.  Keeping track of all of their events, obligations, and other miscellaneous calendar requirements is no easy chore under the best of circumstances.  Now we've compounded that by asking them to live a double life in a shared custody situation.  Joint custody just isn't what it used to be.  Gone are the days of every other weekend Dad.  In my family, it is a 4 day / 3 day split.  That means that the kids are with me 4 days.  That doesn't mean I don't want to be at their swim meet that falls on a day that they are not with me.  So my ex and I devised a system that has been working quite well.  We set up an electronic calendar accessible via the internet.  (We like google calendar).  We both have access to update and see it.  I have loaded all of the school dates, vacations, report card dates and the like.  Then we both update our events scheduled with the kids.  Of course if it involves switching or something we of course verbally consult with each other before updating the calendar.  This way we don't have to call our ex for the 3rd time, "now when is that trip to your mother's scheduled for again?"  It has been a life saver.  If you are electronically adept, it will become your go to system.  Try it!



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