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Tool kit

August 20, 2010

Next week I’m going to write about what things are specific to LOD and me and our circumstances that are allowing us to share custody equally. Not everyone can or should do it, so please don’t feel like we’re saying that. We’re lucky about a lot of things, and we know it, and I’ll tell you what they are.

In the meantime, I wanted to put up some resources for going through the divorce and co-parenting process that I found helpful and think will help anyone in the middle of it.

The best book about divorce I’ve read is called Uncoupling, and it’s by Diane Vaughan. She wrote it after observing and interviewing a bunch of couples who were together long-term (married or unmarried, opposite-sex and same-sex) and then separated. What she found was that there was a predictable, common progression of events, both for the person who instigated the split and for the person who did not instigate. Those of you who read AskMoxie.org know that I only like books that tell you what’s normal/common and what to expect, and loathe books that make judgments and tell you what to do. This book is not going to make you feel guilty or like you’re ruining your kids’ lives or like you’re a bad person for splitting up or that you’ll never be happy. Instead, it’ll give you some insight into what your process is likely to be like as well as your (ex)partner’s. So worth the read for your own process, but it will also give you insight into what your former partner experienced, and that helps a ton with getting past things enough to co-parent.

The seminal website coparenting101.org by Deesha Philyaw and her ex is the gold standard for information and advice about co-parenting. It’s really a how-to site and covers a zillion different situations, with guest bloggers, a ton of different topics, and reality checks.

Google Calendar. Seriously. You and your ex can each have one, and you can create one for each of your kids, and your babysitter, too (if you have one). Then let everyone have access to each other’s calendars, and you can all see who’s doing what in different colors. You can also enable all kinds of public calendars for holidays of various countries so you know which which vacations are going to happen when. You can set it up to kick out an email to you when someone else adds an event, so you’re all on the same page.

Rescue Remedy. I have no idea why something called a “flower essence” works, but for some reason a few drops of Rescue Remedy calms you down when you’ve had an upset, like a near car crash, or a big fight with your ex that leaves you feeling weepy and shaken. It’s in an alcohol suspension, but if you’re recovering you can also find it in pastilles that are alcohol-free. Getting along can be nasty work, and you need all the nerve-soothing you can get.

The other three things I can’t recommend specifically but couldn’t have done without are:

* a good therapist who helped me figure out why I married LOD, why we were such a mismatch, and how to move forward and not repeat past mistakes. A few months with a good therapist is the best investment you can make in your future.
* a spiritual practice that fed me. I got to a whole new and deep place with my faith, and that transformed the experience for me.
* a couple of really good friends who were endlessly sympathetic but not afraid to give me a reality check.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2010 10:44 am

    Wow, really, Rescue Remedy? I’m not going through a divorce but I am raising a 3-year-old who is just like me and makes me crazy sometimes.

  2. askmoxie permalink*
    August 20, 2010 10:46 am

    Yup, Rescue Remedy. No idea why it works, but it calms down the jitters and that anxious edge.

  3. irretrievablybroken permalink
    August 20, 2010 10:55 am

    May I humbly suggest The Good Divorce, by Constance Ahrons?

    http://irretrievablybroken.wordpress.com/

  4. August 20, 2010 2:00 pm

    Uptoparents.org is a wonderful, interactive toolkit for any parents attempting to coparent. One of the best things I’ve ever read about divorcing with children is that both parents think they are putting the child(ren) first, but in the acute phase of splitting neither are. I didn’t want to believe that in the throes of early separation, but ten years later (and after about five or six years of ridiculously successful co-parenting), I clearly believe that to be true.

  5. August 21, 2010 7:51 am

    Google Calender really is a life saver. When I first got divorced, my daughter Sunshine was still in daycare and arranging coparenting schedules was easy. Then, BAM! She started “big girl” school for K4 and immediately it became more complicated with school activities, paperwork (OMG. The paperwork!), soccer, dance and school activities…not to mention to busy parents with lives of their own. LOL.

    I also use Google Docs (and Google Wave…but I heard it’s going away at the end of the year) to manage all Sunshines school paperwork. You can scan it, create a Google Doc and attach it to your public Google Calender and easily share documents that way, with out having to make your child a pack mule!

  6. flyonthewall permalink
    August 21, 2010 7:09 pm

    After only a few posts it’s interesting to see the pattern, Laid Off Dad’s take is that is all about him and his experiences and his satisfaction with fatherhood, and Moxie is all about focusing on her kids’ needs and her readers experiences and offering advice.

    Just saying. It’s interesting. Advice blog meets personal humor blog.

    • LOD permalink*
      August 22, 2010 12:38 pm

      That seems to be what’s happening so far, since I don’t think I have any advice to give. When you’re feeling your way along in a new venture, best to start off by playing to your strengths.

  7. Somekindofmom permalink
    August 21, 2010 7:56 pm

    My mother uses Essence of Orange FLower water, which she claims helps soothe nerves as well. I’m fairly certain she gets it at a health food store.

  8. August 22, 2010 2:25 pm

    I read about your undertaking in the Globe & Mail and have been reading with great interest. I have only begun the co-parenting journey – bought and moved into my own house in early June & kids started “back & forth” in July. So it is very early days. But it is complicated as have 4 kids ages 12, 16, 18 and 20. The two oldest are adults so they have been doing their own thing and pretty much ignore “the schedule”.

    Their dad and I went through the cooperative divorce process & we came up with our own coparenting plan which is Mon., Tues., Wed., with mom. Thurs & Fri. with dad. And we alternate weekends. So out of 14 days, they are with me 8 days and with their dad 6 days. Anyone have experience with this schedule & would like to comment?
    I don’t know if this will be too much for the kids once school starts.

    But as I have been learning and telling anyone who will listen, even though I pulled the plug on the marriage and have no regrets about that, change is difficult and it hurts like hell when my kids aren’t here.

  9. August 23, 2010 7:43 am

    Best thing that happened to us was that we got family counseling a year after the split, in order to help our eldest son deal with issues that were coming out at school. It didn’t do much for him — more the school’s fault than his, we later realized — but it was great for our family because, with “saving the marriage” off the table, we were able to get down to brass tacks and speak honestly. We worked out a lot of issues that would have simply festered otherwise, and, if I had any advice for families, it would be to wait a few months and then go back to counseling and see where you all stand.

  10. Lisananda permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:30 am

    I would recommend Rescue Remedy as well. I found out recently that you can get it in gum form and it’s been available as a spray for a while. A few drops in the water bottle I took with me into mediation helped a great deal. A few drops in his water bottle also helped my son (under 5 at the time of the separation) to deal more calmly with his overwhelming emotions. He called it his special water.

    Brava askmoxie and bravo LOD for writing this blog. If you can maintain the kindness and respect for each other that you are already demonstrating I believe that you, your children and your readers will greatly benefit.

  11. September 1, 2010 9:21 pm

    I’m so glad to read that Rescue Remedy is becoming more recognized as an important component of “tool kits.” I’ve carried it in my purse for over 25 years and had many occasions to offer it to people to ease both minor and potentially life-threatening traumas. I’ve written about a few of the seeming miracles I’ve witnessed using Rescue Remedy with children. Flower essences in general are wonderful subtle yet profoundly effective for all life situations.

  12. January 13, 2011 4:03 am

    just came across your blog today, through the NYT article… and just wanted to say you guys are doing a great job.

    But this post in particular was close to my heart.

    Not sure I am anywhere near where you are, but this definitely gives me hope!

    Keep writing!

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