How to cope when your kids are away with your ex

Lots of people ask me how I cope when my son goes to his Dad’s. In term time it’s easier as many of us need that alternative weekend to work or do the jobs we never get to do when the kids are home. However when it comes to dividing the holidays it can mean long stretches of time apart from your kids.

I find it fascinating that everyone has a different experience when their kids go to the exes for a long period of time. Some find it so hard to deal with being separated from their children and others actually look forward to it.

For those that struggle it can start weeks before the kids go away. They dread it as the leave date approaches and feel sick and sad. When the children have gone they fall apart and find it so hard to be home alone. After all they never signed up to not seeing their child every day, especially if they are young. For many of my clients the reality of their divorce hits home when the house is empty. The negative feelings are amplified if there is a bad relationship with the ex or if there are concerns about how happy the kids are to be there.

Of course it’s normal to have different routines and rules in separate homes. But if there is conflict between parents this can make matters worse. It can be hard to think of your child with someone you don’t like or respect in some cases if they have hurt you in the past.

Others love the freedom the alone time gives them and enjoy the space. Whether they fill it with working or taking a break there are some people that really enjoy that time to rebalance and focus on themselves.

The truth is that it’s good to have some time to focus on you, without the kids. One day they will grow up and leave home and so it’s a good idea to keep in touch with who you are as an individual, not just as a parent.

It’s also healthy for kids to have a good relationship with both parents. So even if you find it tough to be apart, take some reassurance from the fact that it’s good for the children to have a connection with them.

If you’re worried then it’s a good idea to plan ahead so that you don’t find yourself with lots of time on your own. Find things that you enjoy that you can’t do when your kids are at home.

For me I like to go for a run in the morning, a luxury I don’t have when I am home alone with my young son. I plan to meet up with friends I don’t normally see, friends who don’t live close by or who don’t have kids so I don’t see as much anymore.

It’s important to plan some fun or a treat for yourself, such as a manicure or a drink at the pub with your friends. Focus on the positives such as you don’t have to rush home at a certain time, creep around when you get in or pay a babysitter!

Is a great time to go on a date and make an effort to meet a new partner. Often we sacrifice this as kids become the priority and juggling work and date nights with kids can be tricky! So sign up to a dating app or website and spend some quality time looking for someone new.

If my son is away for a longer period of time such as a couple of weeks I like to be constructive and set a goal for myself to get something done that will make me happy that it is finally done. This could be small like clearing out certain cupboards that I keep putting off, or large like writing a talk for my next event or developing a new coaching technique. This way I feel like it was time well used and that something good came out of it.

Sadly it’s a fact that break-ups often mean less time with your children so you may as well find a way to make it easier for yourself. If you can’t change it then you have to find a way to cope. You never know … You may even find that whilst you miss them, you can actually enjoy the time without them too.

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