There is no one right way to handle how you will feel. It would be lovely if there was but life just isn’t that simple. We have a complex range of emotions in general then when you add how you feel about your children and how you feel about your ex to the mix it seems impossible at times. It is not impossible and there are ways to cope and get through it.
Getting some perspective helps a lot. Remember you are not alone. Tons of parents all over the world are going through the same thing you are. Find a support group online or offline whichever works best. It is easier to handle if you have help and support from others going through the same thing. They might even have some advice you hadn’t thought of and vice versa.
Setting up a parenting plan is also a big help. With expectations set out it will help you prepare for what is coming. You may think it is no big deal as your children might have already been away overnight at the grandparents’ house or a friend’s house but there is something about sending your children away for a visit that just doesn’t compare. A parenting plan also allows you to schedule time to deal with how you will feel.
It is very normal to be emotional
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are being silly or over reacting. It is completely normal to get emotional during this time. You are not only adjusting to visitation but also your separation/divorce. You will go through a range of emotions and one minute be fine and the next not so well. You have to be patient and allow yourself the time to get through the feelings. Just as it is normal to be emotional, it is also normal that you will adjust in time. It may look as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel but there will be some just take longer to find it than others.
From my own experience, I hated visitation and for a time I couldn’t hand over my child, I had to have my mother do it. I was already emotional and then my son would get emotional and I would fall apart. If you have family or friends, who can help with the visitation exchange, it helps.
You will miss your children
As time passes you will adjust to having your children go away for their visitation. You will however still miss them at times that is fine. When you find yourself not missing them that is ok too. Don’t let those feelings interfere with your child’s visitation. If you miss them reach out to them. A quick phone call, email or text is fine. Just remember they are with the other parent and might not respond. It is hard to remember but worthwhile to remember that just because you don’t like your ex doesn’t mean your children dislike them.
If you do reach out to your children while they are with the other parent don’t be surprised or hurt if they are happy with the other parent. Take comfort in their happiness don’t let it upset you. Don’t overwhelm your children with your sadness at missing them. Allow them to know you miss them and love them then allow them to enjoy their time with the other parent.
I am thrilled they are going – is that wrong??
Once I got used to my kids going away I actually started to look forward to them leaving. Guilt!!!! What kind of mother looks forward to her kids leaving? That was an unexpected emotion. However, the reality was I had my kids for 26 days out of the month so when those 2 weekends a month came around I cherished the time I would get alone. It took me some time to accept that was ok. I didn’t love my children any less because I looked forwarded to just going to the grocery store alone when they were gone.
I initially sat at home by the phone and went nowhere nor did anything until my kids returned. Doing that is not healthy for you or your children. Enjoy the times they are away. It is ok, in the end, it will make you a happier parent, and that will translate into happier children.
I have heard other parents say they would never get used to their kids leaving. I also have never met a parent whom truly didn’t get used it. It is ok to enjoy the time when your kids are gone. It is a perfect time for you to start rebuilding your life.
Don’t let your hatred become your children’s
Even with the best of separations/divorces there are usually negative emotions and sometimes outright hatred for the other parent. Find a support group, a therapist, a stranger if need be but do not use your children to work through the negative emotions. Use the time they are away to deal with how you feel.
There will be times when you will still get angry with your ex over things happening currently and things that happened in the past. Again, leave the children out of it. If you must have your say with the ex; do it when the kids are away from both of you. You will always be the children’s parents whether you hate each other or whether you get along. It will make life easier for everyone if you can work through the negative emotions and get along. You don’t have to even like your ex to get along with them. You do have to get along though. It would be unfortunate to miss out on some of your children’s big life events because you can’t get along with your ex.
Children will take cues from their parents. If you hate your ex and make it well known to your children one of a few things can happen. The children will start to hate your ex so they are supporting you. The children will start to resent you for making them feel bad for not hating your ex like you do. Possible your children will become detached from both parents in an effort not deal with it at all. None of these is healthy options. None of these lead to emotionally healthy and happy children.