Im struggling with this possibility....please give me some advice....stories....anything...
My kids had just turned 7 & 3 when their dad moved out. It's been nearly 6 years and they are now 13 & 9.
Some things that helped me
Easing into visits slowly and gently, starting w/ times they usually spend with their Daddy - breakfasts during the week and Sunday daddy days.
Spending time away from home with a friend during visits. In my case, it was a boyfriend, and I don't really recommend starting to date so soon after your marriage breaks up, but I will always be grateful for having his support for that first year.
I think it's so much harder to spend time alone in the house you used to share and it can be too easy to dwell on how the kids aren't there. Find ways you can do things totally differently when they're gone - plan special dinners that they refuse to eat, watch movies/ shows that you love, do all the grown-up activities that you can't do when you have the kids. This is your chance to be with YOU, pamper yourself, get filled to the brim with good stuff that will make you a better parent when they kids are with you.
It was so hard for me at the beginning, but now I cherish my personal time. I spend a lot of it catching up on work that doesn't get done through the week (we've also been homeschooling for the last 4 years), but I also get to do stuff just for me.
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my WonderBoys
YoungMan (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
I also was the only one who had ever done bedtime, bathtime, homework time, taking to school time, picking up from school time, etc. It was hard too because X wasn't doing it himself - he was getting his mom to do most of it. And he has used bedtime, screen time, bathtime, etc. to try to manipulate the kids - no bedtime, no baths, endless screen time, tv in their bedroom, etc. I know that when he does try to have a routine, he never reads a bedtime story. He just says goodnight and closes the door. The kids return tired and dirty.
That's the truth.
BUT, there is more. Other than ds1 (11) who has had emotional trouble from the time he was a toddler, my kids are fine. Ds2 (7) and Ds3 (4) are actually doing great. I met with ds2's teacher on Wednesday and like always she only had wonderful things to say about him - he is kind, always happy, very popular, a great listener, etc. And the teachers at ds3's daycare always report how wonderful he is. Ds2 and Ds3 never had any reports of problems or sadness from school when the separation happened. X moved out in September.
Another BUT.... My kids relish even more than ever in my bedtime routines. And so do I :) I am still the one to make sure they are clean and that their toe nails are cut. Even though X and I share our time 50-50, I am still their primary caregiver in a lot of ways. We snuggle a lot and read lots. There have been no problems with the kids on my end around bedtime with them having such a different experience at X's house. They seem pretty aware and fine about my rules vs X's and my routines vs X's. They complain to me a lot because I am a lot stricter than X. But I know this will be subconsciously translated in their minds as being able to trust me and knwoing that I am their stable parent - their rock.
When the kids go to his, I keep busy. I post and posted here (in the Lounge) A LOT for support. I made/make dates for coffee or wine with friends and even just acquaintances. In the early days, I spent a lot of time going through the entire house and clearing out. I finally got through every single corner of the house by November so that I knew there was not a single things of his left in the house. It was mine! I decorated my house to reclaim it. I did a lot of thrift shopping and bought some new (used) clothes to freshen up my wardrobe. I even got a pedicure once! (only time in my life!). I went to a lot of Al-Anon meetings. I painted. I walked and wandered through the city. I would plan to go buy something at a particular store on the other side of the city and it often ended up taking the whole day. I took/take melatonin to help me get to sleep so I don't stay up thinking too much about it all. I've been to our battered women's support services drop-in support group. I do A LOT of therapy. I always have the house in perfect order for their arrival (but within minutes it's chaos again, but that's just part of my routine). I make sure all the shopping is done. I bake lots for them and have fresh fruit all cut up on the table for them when they return.
I make plans for when they return - like what board games to suggest we play, or what new playground we're going to try out. We have a weekly camp-out on our living room's pull-out couch to make our time together even more special. On campout nights I make popcorn and we watch America's Funniest Home Video's together. We play a lot more than ever before. We even dance all crazy and wild around the house - we have dance parties sometimes when we can't think of anything else to do.
I do actually really enjoy my time. I have met so many new and wonderful friends. That's one thing that I found - my friends were so incredibly supportive. My first weekend with the kids at his house, they organized a big getogether for me. Also, I have found that other single moms or women who have gone through a divorce suddenly began appearing in my life. There were women in my neighbourhood who I knew were single but it wasn't until the kids began going to their dad's part-time that I went and met them. They have been incredible sources of strength for me. Al-Anon too.
Now, i've begun cycling and exercising when they are gone. But that took time for me to get to that point. I did a heck of a lot of yoga in the early days.
I cried a lot in the beginning. A lot! A hell of a lot! I would sit on my couch all alone and just sob and sob. But when the kids came, our time together was better than ever before. I was free to be the fun happy mom I was inside. I was able to freely teach them my values and principles. I set new house rules. We got a chalkboard in our dining area that we call the grateful board. Each time the kids are home, it's one boy's turn to write on the grateful board each night at dinner time something that he is grateful for that day. And we talk and laugh so much now. Way more than we used to. Then they would go and I would cry all alone. But now I don't so much. i still cry sometimes, but it's not about missing the kids, but rather about being affected by X.
eta: I try to appreciate my freedom, too. Each night I go to be in my own bed all to myself. I no longer expect to be harassed for sex. I can sleep naked without waking up to someone trying to have have sex with me. No one snoring! I walk around the house nude a lot and know I'm not going to get slapped in the ass or have my nipples pinched and pulled (ugh). Going to bed alone is so wonderful. That was the first thing I celebrated. And sleeping in! Oh, my, the sleeping in can be glorious for us moms who had to do all teh work before including the nightime parenting and mornings.
Hope some of this helps. The women here and in the Lounge are so wise and caring. You are in good company :) xo
I have been a single mom since DD was an infant. I thoroughly enjoy my "me" time when DD is away and rarely miss her. I know she's safe and its important that she continues to have a strong bond with her dad, so nothing to worry about.
Update: Baby girl born Nov 19th!
It's really hard when they are little and needy or when it's holidays and you don't have them. You feel like you miss so much. But it becomes a part of life and you adjust to the new normal and you start to look forward to your "breaks" away from the kids so you can enjoy them when you return. Keeping busy helps a lot. I took up running and yoga. I knit a lot during the adjustment, mostly stuff for the kids. I also began doing more baking/cooking in advance when they were gone so that when they were home I could focus more on them and not housework type duties. Sometimes now 5 years later, I practically THROW my kids at my ex when he comes to pick them up. I literally have on my running clothes/shoes and I'm shooing the kids out the door as he's pulling in the driveway. But when they come back I'm usually waiting to hear about their time with daddy and have a snack/meal prepared or an activity planned for the day. I'm rested and ready to spend time with just them with the phone/computer off and no distractions. There are times he takes them that I do nothing more than sit in front of a netflix movie and knit and that's okay too. I've run two half-marathons in the last two years because now I have free time to train. I couldn't do that as a married mom who had her kids constantly with her or underfoot.