Does Your Co-Parenting Need Some Help?

A Dose of Savvy…

I feel like the Fall friendzy is just around the corner! I just finished going through the calendar from now through the end of 2010 with my former husband, filling in the weekend and holiday and school schedules. Even though two will be away at college, they are still on the schedule… getting to school, Parents’ Weekends, getting to and from school for holidays. And then there are Back-to-School nights, sports schedules, SATs and college visits for my two high-schoolers.

I hear from single moms all the time about the frustrations and stresses of co-parenting. Many times the challenge isn’t just in making the schedules; it’s in sticking to the schedule, as well as the poor communication between the parents that makes things complicated.

Between custody, school, activity, and vacation schedules and day-to-day life, it can get tough to keep track of it all while trying to work and run a household. Things may be missed or even forgotten, schedules may be switched at the last minute, and in some cases one parent has been known to keep information from the other parent. Unfortunately, this only hurts the children!

If you need help with communicating information and family schedules, or even expenses, I recently came across a resource that can literally change your life! Our Family Wizard is an online information manager that allows you to easily schedule and track parenting schedules, share important family information and expenses, as well as create clear communication. Both parents, as well as the children, can have access to the system which includes the family calendar, message boards, private and shared journals, expense logs, and a family information bank (for vital information such as school information, emergency contacts, health care providers and health information). Money can also be transferred for expenses and is logged for future reference.

If you’re not divorced yet, you can even use the system as you create your family plan. Our Family Wizard has common plans already in place that you can choose. Courts in over 35 states have ordered that the parties use this system in contested cases.

Life as a single parent is not always easy so take advantage of any resources that can simplify things. The Our Family Wizard system protects kids by keeping them out of the middle and reduces divorce conflict between you and the other parent by eliminating miscommunication, reducing stress, and avoiding arguments. Ultimately, though, it allows you to focus on and improve your parenting!

Have You Made a Breakthrough in Your Life After Divorce?

A Dose of  Savvy…

I tend to get tired of all the nonsense on TV, but when I saw the announcement that Tony Robbins, the man who has been inspiring people to transform their lives for the last 35 years, had a new show I admit I was curious. Earlier this week, Breakthrough premiered. For the next 6 weeks Tony will be featuring stories where he takes people with tragic circumstances on a 30-day journey of healing and transformation. 
 
This past week Tony worked with a couple, Kristen and Frank, who lost their dream life on their wedding day. Frank suffered an accident immediately after their “I Do’s,” and became a quadriplegic. As a result, they’ve been living a life of complete limitations with no joy…they believe they can’t leave the house, she’s afraid to leave him alone, he feels guilty for ruining her life…it’s “their story”.
Through many exercises and experiences, Kristen and Frank learn the power of re-writing the story they are living to completely change the quality of their life. They come to realize that the quality of your life is where you live emotionally (frustrated and angry vs. grateful and optimistic).
 
We can definitely learn from Kristen and Frank’s journey and transformation. No doubt our divorce is one of the most personal and painful challenges we will experience in our lives! We need to give ourselves time to heal, but in the end we have a choice how we allow our divorce to affect the rest of our lives. We can grow from the stress, or let it hold us back. We can be the martyr or the victim, or we can have a life that’s alive and passionate. We can be bitter, or we can use it as the catalyst to take action and create a life that is better.
 
So, are you still living the “story” of your divorce…how your husband cheated on you; how he abandoned your family; how he ruined your life, etc…or have you used your divorce for  a breakthrough??
I would love to hear your stories of creating a better life after divorce!Please share them here…

Tiger’s Public Apology

February 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Relationship Savvy

Friday’s Dose of Relationship Savvy…

It was impossible today to turn the radio or TV on without hearing about Tiger Wood’s big press conference. Personally, I’m a little tired of public apologies for infidelity. John Edwards,  Mark Sanford, and now Tiger…all public figures who abused their positions because they could.  They all said they were sorry, but I would also guess they’re just as sorry they got caught.

I didn’t watch Tiger’s press conference, but did see a few clips afterwards. There were a few things that struck me…

First, I can’t imagine the pain, the hurt, the humiliation that his wife Elin has endured. No woman (or man), no matter how strained their marriage may be, deserves the complete disrepect of infidelity. I have never understood how a woman could knowingly have an affair with another woman’s husband, especially when there are children involved…but maybe that’s because I believe in empowering other women. The answer to relationship problems is never found in the arms of someone else; only from looking deep within.

Second, as I heard  Tiger apologizing to Elin, it occurred to me how many women (and men) never get an apology, either because the cheating spouse doesn’t get caught or because, if they do, the other spouse is made to feel that it was somehow their fault. They are not as attractive or fun or smart or exciting as the paramour. And it’s not just the affair they deserve an apology for, but also for the trust, the pillar of a relationship,  that is destroyed as a result.

Third, and probably the most significant part of Tiger’s speech to me, was how he admitted that he felt “entitled” to do what he did. While it’s easy for celebrities to feel entitled, it occurred to me how many non-celebrities also feel entitiled. As a single mom of four, I am determined that my children, especially my three boys, will not grow into adults who feel they are entitled to do what they want when they want. They will grow to understand they are not their own highest beings. I have made faith a priority in our lives, but given the world we live in it’s a challenge for all parents, and especially single parents, to raise compassionate children with a conscience.

Clearly infidelity is a heated topic and most people have some opinion about Tiger’s behavior and subsequent apology. It’s sad to me how many families today are destroyed by the deceit of infidelity and the illusion that the grass is always greener on the other side. Only time will tell if Elin and Tiger will become another divorced statistic.

Relationship Savvy Starts With…

February 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Relationship Savvy

A Dose of Relationship Savvy…

It is inevitable that our relationships change after our divorce. Relationships may change with our in-laws because, after all, blood is thicker than water. Relationships may change with our friends…couples we may have spent time with may feel they need to choose between our former husband and us. Your relationship with your children may also change, depending on your final custody arrangements and the relationship you have with their father.

Some of these changes can leave you feeling badly about yourself , affect your self esteem, and create trust issues you may not have experienced before. You may find that your negative emotions take over and sabotage you. These are not issues that would be healthy to a new long-term relationship, and need to be faced head on.

While you need to adjust to these changing situations after your divorce, the best place to start in transforming your “Relationship Savvy” is with you! You may feel a real sense of loneliness and it may be tempting to jump into another intimate relationship, but give yourself the gift of time. Wouldn’t you rather be alone than in another bad relationship?

Use this time of transition to really get to know yourself again…it’s easy to get lost in the role of wife and mother. Rediscover some of your interests and put them back in your life, while also giving yourself an opportunity to discover some new interests and new friends. Be honest with yourself about your needs and desires, as well as your fears.

Open your mind to the possibilities in your life! As you do, you will start to feel a sense of optimism and happiness that may not have seemed possible as you went through your divorce. You will start to notice all the things that are good in your life, no matter how tough the situation. It is more fun to be around happy, optimistic people and you will ultimately start to attract them into your life as well.

Once you are able to open your mind, you will also open your heart and create the fulfilling relationships you deserve in your life!

Five Savvy Steps To A New Life After Divorce- Step 5

February 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Relationship Savvy

Friday’s Dose of Relationship Savvy…

We haven’t been able to go into a store this past month without being bombarded by hanging cardboard hearts, candy displays, and rows of red & white cards. My former husband called it one of many “Hallmark Holidays” so it was never a super special day when I was married.  As a result, I guess it’s never really bothered me since I’ve been divorced…I’ve made it a good excuse to make heart-shaped pancakes for my kids and pop little extra treats in their lunches or mail them something while away at college. Just an extra “I Love You!”

If you don’t have someone special to spend Valentine’s Day with other than your kids, don’t be disappointed…be your own Valentine! Find a way to pamper yourself a little this weekend either with girlfriends or on your own…a manicure, a massage, a bubble bath, your favorite movie, a girls nite out (or in) or even just a little quiet time to rejuvinate your spirit. Maybe even give a little of yourself to someone else. I recently read about a single mom who delivers a rose to other single moms she knows or are friends of friends. It’s an amazing feeling when you can give to others and see the smile on their face!

As single moms we have so little time to focus on ourselves, yet we need and deserve to! The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself before you can have a positive, fulfilling relationship with anyone else.

I’d love to hear how you are celebrating with “Your Ultimate Valentine…You” this Valentine’s Day…

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Savvy Single Parenting

There is no doubt that single parenting is a challenge in our life after divorce, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. I admit that when my marriage was coming to an end, I was petrified at the thought of raising four kids (three who are boys) on my own. I had grown up the oldest of four girls so I was pretty confident about raising my daughter, but raising boys was truly going to be a challenge!

Eight years later, I am proud to say that I think I have done a pretty good job with all four of my kids. I actually receive regular phone calls and text messages from my college-aged sons and I recently received a complimentary note (along with pictures from my second son’s high school graduation) from my former father-in-law! This is not to say I have not had to deal with any challenges or that I have not made mistakes along the way (because I definitely have!!), but my kids have thrived academically, emotionally and socially despite the challenges of a single parent home.  

Here are my tips for having an awesome relationship with your kids…

Care For Yourself

When you are exhausted and overwhelmed physically and emotionally you are no good to anyone, especially your children. It is crucial that you maintain healthy habits by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising, and also give yourself some “mom time” without your kids. It is also crucial that you forgive yourself and stop beating yourself up for your failed relationship. Look instead at the gifts and lessons you can take from it. Part of caring for yourself is also asking for help when you need it. When you care for yourself, your children can see and feel the difference in your household.

Always Make Your Kids The Priority

Children in single parent homes may subconsciously feel abandoned, rejected, or incompetent. However, no one matters to your child more than you! Know your priorities and show your kids you believe in them and their abilities. Give them the power to believe in themselves. Help them to understand what a crucial part they play in the family by giving them responsibilities. Take an interest in their interests and be there to support them. You may walk out of the elementary school concert with a headache, but you wouldn’t want to miss that ear-to-ear smile when they walk off the stage the first time!

Expose Your Kids to Some Form of Faith

Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is important for kids to have some form of faith in their lives. They need to know that they are not their own highest being. They may choose to have different beliefs as adults, but they will never know unless they have some exposure earlier in life. Faith and spirituality also teach kids to be caring, compassionate, and contributing members of their community.

Set Clear Boundaries & Consequences

Though it may be tempting at times to be their friend rather than their parent, kids need discipline and limits. This not only helps them to keep out of trouble, but also leads to a feeling of self-control and ultimately higher self-esteem and a positive outlook.

When our kids understand how to make lemonade out of lemons they are more equipped to handle the bumps in life which they will inevitably face.

Keep Communication Open

Children learn early on if you are an approachable and emotionally safe parent. Live true to your values and be a good role model. Know your kids’ friends and their families. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your kids about the issues that concern you. Acknowledge their accomplishments and great choices, yet support them with teachable moments when they make mistakes as they test the limits (because they will!). It is also extremely important to acknowledge any negative emotions and affirm how well they are handling them. Open communication with your kids will only improve your relationship.

Make Memories That Will Last

My grandparents were married 57 years and I learned from them the importance of family memories and relationships. Every Sunday after church all 20 grandchildren and our parents would go to my grandparents for “sticky buns and orange juice.” The boys (and occasionally some of the girls) would all play football on their lawn. We can spend all the money in the world on our kids, but if they don’t have strong family relationships they will never truly know how to relate with others. I know my kids will always remember fondue and board games on New Year’s Day, holidays & summer vacations with extended family, and the 2700 mile RV trip I took them on!

Give Lots of Hugs and I Love You’s

What you give, you get back! Don’t be afraid to show your kids, even your teenagers, affection. Though it may be challenging with the media and the values that are portrayed to our kids as important , teach your children about love and respect for others. They will learn to value not only themselves, but also life and will truly enjoy it. Be sure to show them that happiness comes from within and not from anyone or anything else. In the end, happiness is a choice!

Take the High Road With Your Former Spouse

This is probably one of the most challenging parts of being a single parent…the fact that you parent in your home and your former spouse parents in theirs and that there are probably negative emotions that will always linger on some level. If you can at all be on the same page with expectations, privileges and consequences, it will only benefit your children. Kids in single-parent households need permission to talk about the other parent. Be honest and age-appropriate in your discussions, though also use discretion… some things should be left between adults. As difficult as it may be, it is best that your children not hear you disparage the other parent. This only hurts their self-esteem.

Single parenting can be a lonely and exhausting job, but if approached with a positive and open mindset we can empower our kids to develop into happy and competent young adults. When we look back years from now, hopefully we see that the time, love, happiness, and tears were worth it and we can be proud of the impact our kids have had on the world with their unique gifts.

 

So…Who Is The Savvy Divorced Chick?

No matter where you may be in your life after divorce, you can be a “Savvy Divorced Chick!” You just have to start by making the decision that you want to be better, not bitter! Being savvy in your life after divorce is all about your mindset…your lifestyle… your journey.

Savvy Divorced Chicks are smart, motivated, real women who recognize that divorce has given them the opportunity to redesign a life on their terms that is empowering and fulfilling. Though her future may seem uncertain at times, she has a positive outlook and is willing to look outside of the box…even when it terrifies her! The Savvy Divorced Chick is inspired by other women’s stories, and is also an inspiration herself. She is social and enjoys being part of a positive, supportive community.

A Savvy Divorced Chick values personal development, and realizes it is the first step to making positive, lasting changes in all areas of her life. She is committed to creating a fun, adventurous, passionate life that is physically & emotionally healthy, financially secure, and professionally fulfilling. She is also committed to transforming & developing healthy, vibrant relationships in all areas of her life.

Life after divorce is truly a journey…and there are definitely challenges along the way. The Savvy Divorced Chick learns along the way how to grow from the pain, though, and realizes that only she has the power to actually create the family, the career, the relationships…the LIFE she wants!

 

 

Overcoming Procrastination in Your Life After Divorce

As divorced women, we’re juggling it all…family, household, finances, a profession, volunteering, even a social life. Life can get overwhelming, but at one time or another, we’ve all been hit by the procrastination bug…and intentionally put off things we really needed to do.

Procrastination can manifest itself in many forms, even as simple disguises such as TV and email. It can also show up for many reasons. Our internal barriers such as fear, anxiety, perfectionism, and indecision may surface and take over. In the end, though, procrastination never pays; in fact, it usually comes with a cost… affecting our achievements, bank accounts, reputation, self-esteem, even our credit score. Ultimately procrastination leads to stress and interferes with our happiness.

Procrastination doesn’t have to be a way of life, though. When it starts to affect your productivity, your relationships and even starts to cost you, it’s time to put a stop to it immediately! Overcoming procrastination means committing to moving forward and taking action even when you don’t feel like it. Though it will be a gradual effort and take practice, there are some simple steps we can all take to turn procrastination into productivity and perseverance…

Discover How & Why

The first place to start with resolving your procrastination issues is to get a clear picture of how you use your time and why you delay certain types of projects. Buy yourself a beautiful journal to encourage your positive, can-do attitude and keep a daily log of all your activities, including how long you spend on each. You will soon discover all the distractions and time-wasters that keep you from achieving your goals. In addition, list any activities you deliberately avoid accomplishing and journal about why. The sooner you become aware of your actions and the reasons behind them, the sooner you will be taking charge of your life.

Monetize Your Habit

We’ve all heard that time is money, but how much is your procrastination actually costing you? This can be an actual dollar amount or the cost of a lost opportunity. When you list those activities that you purposely put off in your journal, be sure to include what it costs you. Late bills cost you interest, affect your credit score and ultimately your ability to secure less expensive credit in the future. Insurance companies, mortgage companies, even future employers use your credit score to make their decisions. Prolonging projects at work, updating your resume, dealing with medical issues, car & home maintenance (just to name a few) will all “cost” you more in the long run.

Get Organized & Prioritize Your Goals

When you have systems in place at home and at work, it’s easier to keep yourself on track. Keep your list of projects or goals in one place, not scribbled on different sheets of paper. Create a daily planning system, either electronically or manually, and keep a detailed schedule of all your appointments. Then block off additional time daily to tackle the personal and professional projects you need and want to accomplish. Be sure to set realistic goals by priority, and give yourself a certain time limit to accomplish each. Share your goals with a friend or a coach and you will keep yourself accountable.

Just Get Started

Avoiding procrastination is more effective when we start with little steps. Break down each task or goal into smaller goals that can be systematically accomplished one at a time. Setting small, quickly achievable goals helps you avoid being overwhelmed, lets you quickly see success, and keeps you motivated until you have completed the whole project. It is amazing where many small steps taken together can lead!

Focus

Procrastination means losing precious time, wasting valuable resources, and missing life’s golden opportunities. All of this can be avoided by focusing on what your goals are and actually doing what it will take to accomplish them. It will require consistent  decisions and a continued commitment to avoid distractions and be in control of your own time. Before you get started on a project, make sure you have everything you need to avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Reward Yourself

This is the best part of being productive! Make sure you reward yourself once you have accomplished one of your projects…you deserve it!! Maybe even take part of the money you saved by not procrastinating and give yourself something special. Most importantly, though, be sure to spend some time each day doing the things you love to do so you can keep your momentum going, accomplish all you dream of, and live the life you truly deserve.

Living a life without procrastination doesn’t require a radical change; it just requires a decision. By overcoming procrastination you will experience a personal freedom and self-satisfaction you have probably not felt for a long time. Just imagine a life filled with strength, purpose and peace of mind…it is just a few actions away!

Imagine Your Life After Divorce If You Just Took Action

In life after divorce, there are many decisions to make and things we would like to change to have the life of our dreams. Taking action, though, can often be intimidating and overwhelming, but it can also be empowering!  Taking action can provide the fuel you need to keep moving forward toward a more fulfilling life.  Regardless of the time of year, there is no time more perfect than now to design the life you want…and deserve.

As you redesign your life, it is critical that you first understand that your life is exactly as you have designed it. Your life is the way it is right now because of your hesitation in taking action to change it!

In thinking about your life, which situations do you want to change first? Does your career, health, relationships, financial situation, or anything else make you feel powerless and stuck? Choose one simple action you can take immediately to inspire some positive movement in any of the areas you desire change. It does not have to be a huge action, just SOMETHING to start building momentum in your life.

Make a commitment to take your action step by writing it down and telling someone close to you so that you are accountable. You need to push yourself to take the action no matter what!  This may seem incredibly difficult or even scary, but remember that most often the things you fear never materialize. In fact, you may not even have a clear reason for feeling scared…you’re just afraid of the “unknown”.  Give yourself a pep talk or a little bribe in order to move forward at least a little bit.

Once you take that first step, let go of any expectations of the things that may happen because of it. Allow yourself to feel great simply because you did something about it. Once you have taken a step forward, keep pushing yourself to take others. Even small steps are a positive effort that result in change and cannot help but bring about better circumstances in your life.

Taking action quickly builds momentum.  Just as chronic non-action creates a cycle of negativity and stagnation over time, being proactive can create a positive cycle that continues to grow! The more you do it, the easier it gets which eventually makes it seem almost effortless. You will continue to empower and strengthen yourself with every new action you take, and soon your life will look and feel totally different.

In addition to feeling empowered, there is much to be gained from enjoying the journey to your destination. Make it your mission to revel in every moment that you are working toward higher goals. Enjoy the sense of self-discovery and accomplishment you gain with every new goal you achieve. Make it a worthwhile journey and you will savor the end result that much more!

 

Not Bitter, Just Better!

When it comes to your quality of life, especially in your life after divorce, attitude is everything!  In fact, whatever you focus on the most, you tend to bring into your life. If you choose to hold on to your bitterness and negative emotions, you won’t allow yourself to open your heart and receive new people and opportunities into your life. You live as a victim and don’t allow yourself to take back your power and re-create the amazing life you deserve!

Have you ever known someone who had a terrible attitude? They may have been extremely negative and pessimistic, and were not much fun to be around; or they complained non-stop and blamed everyone else for how terrible their life or circumstances were. Did you find it draining to be in their presence? A negative attitude will not only make you miserable, but everyone around you too!

A positive attitude, on the other hand, turns you into a woman that everyone wants to be with; a woman that constantly experiences and attracts great things, and a woman who loves life!  Is that the kind of woman you want to be…”better, not bitter”?  If so, here are some tips to help you develop and maintain that magnetic, positive attitude and ultimately a better life.

Do what you love!

This applies to hobbies and fun activities, but it also to one of the biggest parts of your life ~ your work!  Do you enjoy your career?  Are you spending most of your time on something that you are passionate about that makes you feel fulfilled? If not, consider exploring other career options and moving toward a job you will love. When you regularly do things that make you happy, you can not only help but feel better about yourself and your life. Amazing what happy women can attract into their life!

Always expect the best!

Life after divorce can often seem overwhelming and it can be easy to get into the habit of seeing the doom and gloom in every situation if you let it. However, doing so keeps you forever focused on the negative. Instead, make a conscious decision to expect the best, even if your first impulse is to think negatively. Make it a conscious habit to fill your life with positive  affirmations on a daily basis. Even starting your day by writing down a simple thought such as, “This is going to work out great!” or  “Wonderful things are going to happen today!” can make a significant difference. The more you make these positive affirmations, the more you train your subconscious and the more you begin to believe it, the more you will begin to experience just that.

Build yourself up! 

Think and speak positively to and about yourself every day. After going through a difficult time such as divorce, it is easy to get in the habit of being hard on yourself and talking down to yourself, especially if you were often criticized in your marriage. This can leave you feeling hopeless, frustrated and pessimistic.  Get into the habit of building yourself up with positive self-talk and thoughts.  Affirm your good qualities and downplay your negative ones. A great place to start is by forgiving yourself  and your former spouse and then make it a practice to focus on everything you have in your life to be grateful for.

Build others up!

As often as you can, make an effort to encourage, support and compliment the people you encounter each day. That goes for those in your life who are important to you, as well as strangers you meet in your daily travels. It is amazing how a simple gesture can bring a smile to someone else’s face. The more you focus on recognizing the positive in others, the more others will be attracted to you, and the better you’re going to feel about yourself too.

Think strength!

The more you choose to focus on and worry about your failures and weaknesses, the more pessimistic and negative you are going to feel. Instead, consistently affirm your strengths, talents and capabilities. This will enable you to feel empowered and in control of your circumstances, which cannot help but improve your attitude and ultimately, your life.

Life after divorce is challenging, but with the right mindset, support, and focused daily action you can create a life that is better, not bitter. Most of all, though, nurture yourself and affirm that you are a work in progress…not perfect, but great nonetheless!

 

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