If you’d asked me two years ago if I thought divorce would be a good thing for myself and my parenting skills, I probably would have laughed at how absurd that sounded. After all, isn’t divorce emotional for everyone?
However, after nearly a year of my new life post-divorce, I can already see many of the positives the whole ordeal provided. In fact, my divorce significantly changed my parenting in three incredible ways.
1. The divorce shifted my responsibilities.
Before the divorce, I don’t think I realized all of the luxuries my children enjoyed with two parents at home. It didn’t feel like a ton of work to pick up after the kids or do the dishes because I had another adult in the house to help maintain everything. Once my ex-husband and I separated our households, I quickly learned just how few responsibilities my kids actually had — and I realized why that needed to change.
While I’m not asking my children to scrub the floors on their hands and knees or even forcing them to complete a lengthy list of weekly chores, the responsibilities within our household have shifted for the better. Instead of me picking up toys and gathering dirty laundry, my children manage these tasks now. They also help with other small things, like carrying in the groceries or feeding our two cats.
Because of this shift, I’ve seen vast improvements in my kids’ willingness to help with other chores, too. In fact, my oldest daughter regularly offers to help set the table before dinner and change the cats’ litter boxes. It’s nice to have the extra hands to clean up. However, it’s even nicer to hear my children volunteer to do things because they want to help. Since they offer their help, I always thank them and show them just how much I appreciate their generosity.
2. “Me Time” is now an option!
Although my ex-husband was definitely a hands-on dad, I often felt guilty for going out to dinner with my friends or volunteering to help with an after-hours activity at work. It always felt like “me time” wasn’t something I could or should have. If I did, I always paid for those few hours away from the house one way or another.
However, we now follow a very detailed parenting plan post-divorce, and my kids spend every other weekend with their father. I absolutely miss them every time they stay with their dad. However, I also enjoy the “me time” this arrangement forces me to endure.
Since my time apart from my children is set in stone, I can plan out how to spend those days apart. Sometimes I grab dinner with friends, and other times I order takeout with UberEats and binge-watch a show on Netflix. I also schedule self-care activities like massages and therapy sessions during those weekends so I feel recharged when my children return.
Although I don’t want my children to be away from me any more than they already are, I can honestly say that I try to make the most of my “me time” since it’s an option now. I genuinely believe this quality time with myself is great for my mental health, which ultimately allows me to be the best mother I possibly can be.
3. Every moment with my kids matters.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for a fact that I took moments with my children for granted before the divorce. As a working mom, I often felt tired and overwhelmed, which sometimes made me grumble during those nights my kids wanted to talk instead of sleep or lose my cool when one of them decided to play 20 questions while I tried to throw dinner together. I’m not proud of those moments, but they happened nonetheless.
However, I also believe that the divorce dramatically reshaped my priorities and worldview as a whole. Because of this, I now try my hardest to take advantage of every single moment with my kids and embrace even the most mundane situations.
We sit and eat dinner at the table nearly every single night. I never skip over bedtime stories, and I welcome every single hug with open arms. Also, I try to plan fun activities for us to enjoy together on the weekends they stay with me, and I actively try to stay present with my girls because who knows when these wonderful moments will end.
I definitely don’t wish divorce on anyone, and I absolutely didn’t celebrate it at first. But nearly a year after the fact, I can say with certainty that this life event changed my parenting for the better. I love my children with all my heart, and I feel like I’m finally showing them that with my actions.
Previously Published on Moms.com