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Do You Resent Having Little Time With Your Children?

The most common complaint I hear from divorced parents is that they are frustrated and angry because they don’t feel they were given enough time to spend with their children due to their custody agreement. They believe that when the legal system divided the time spent with their children with both themselves and their ex spouse, they got the short end of the stick. These divorced parents feel they were unfairly ripped off by the legal system and unfortunately, have no way of controlling the outcome leaving them with no choice but to settle for what was ordered. If this is how you feel, then what I’m about to tell you will help you see your situation from a more positive perspective...

As you know, many things in our lives today seem to be out of our control – including the weather, job security, the cost of living, even what people think and say about us. Not having control of an outcome scares most people because many of us need to feel in control of our reality in order to feel safe. We prefer when things are predictable and controllable. Otherwise, we get anxious worrying about all the potential negative things that could happen if we have to trust fate or other people. However, controlling anyone or anything is virtually impossible as well as unhealthy. It only encourages fear to arise when faced with a change that dramatically impacts your life – like thinking you’ll lose your loving connection with your children if you’re only able to see them once a week rather than every day!

As a divorced mom, you’ve had to learn how to embrace a lot of change in a short amount of time, like adapting to a new life for yourself and a new way to parent your children. This includes sharing your children’s time with your ex spouse and their new partner as well. You don’t have to like it; in fact, you can spend what time and energy you do have with your children complaining about it and being angry and frustrated about your situation. But that will not change the situation – it will only change you! I’m not saying you don’t have the right to feel angry or frustrated from time to time...your story is very real and you’re the only one living it. However, I can tell you that the only way to make sense of your bad situation is by CHANGING the way you’re dealing with it! The goal is to stop wasting your energy being angry about things you can’t change or control and start focusing your energy on what you can control. Cup half full, my friend! I know that sounds cliché...but here’s why it works!

Whether you are divorced or not, the “time” any parent has with their children should always be precious because time is fleeting. Even in the healthiest family scenarios where both parents are happy, mutually loving and respectable to one another, your children will eventually grow up and move out and want to begin creating a life of their own. Therefore, your time with them will again be limited! Take it from me, I have three adult children and I’m lucky if I can get all three in the same room for a family dinner at least one day a month due to their own busy personal and work schedules – that’s literally only 12 times a year! Twenty-first century family living is ridiculously busy and energy depleting! No one seems to have the time to get together any more. Or if they do have the time, they usually don’t have the extra energy.

Like you, I love my children dearly and miss them when I don’t get to see them more often. I, too, wish their busy schedules would allow for more mom time – but that’s not always the reality. Don’t forget your children’s time also has to be divided by their other parent, grandparents, friends and school obligations as well. So rather than spend all your energy getting frustrated because you feel you can’t control the “quantity” of time you get to spend with your children, put all your energy into cultivating the time you do have, into creating more memorable, fun, “quality” experiences with them instead. This will not only make the time you have special but far more memorable and exciting. Focusing on the good times will also release unnecessary stress and harmful emotions that compromise the quality of your parenting.

Here’s a coaching tip on how to change your frustration to gratitude...

Sit quietly for a moment, close your eyes and give yourself permission to take yourself back to being a child at your family dinner table. Envision your mother making you eat all the vegetables you hate that are on your plate. Pay attention to how you feel...Although she was doing what was best for you on a daily (quantitative) basis; it wasn’t a very fun, or exciting experience – right! Now recall your mother telling you that if you ate all your vegetables, you could have a special treat afterwards – yeah - ice cream! This made you feel really happy and hopeful enough to endure all those boring vegetables knowing that the time was coming soon when you could have fun, be excited and happy to have ice cream afterwards.

Now open your eyes and realize that although you have limited time with your children and have to wait until what feels like forever to see them in between visits, take comfort in knowing that your children think of YOU as THEIR ICE CREAM TREAT! They will be thrilled to see you AND you get to spend quality time with them instead of being the quantitative parent whose role it is to carry out the day-to-day “boring” activities.

Getting back to my first point, you may not be able to control – or even understand – why you have less time to spend with your children as a result of your divorce – but you are in control of how you spend the time you do have. So start thinking of yourself as that exciting, fun, qualitative “ice cream” parent that your children can’t wait to enjoy and create new memorable experiences with.

Remember, your children won’t remember how many hours and days you spent with them, but they will remember the fun, exciting and memorable times you shared together! So hold on to that! Life is nothing more than moments in between the day-to-day routines. And, when your children grow up, and they will, they will lovingly remember and share those memorable experiences you created together. Even when you have long forgotten about some of them, I assure you, they will not!

So use your “in between children time” to start creating your next amazing, memorable “ice cream” moments with your precious children NOW!

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