Shared Custody – How to survive and thrive

shared custody

Lenie, mom to Amira, who is on the cover of our Fall 2018 Parent Guide Magazine, and partner Michael

The joys of surviving, and coping with shared custody

Shared Custody! Let’s get to the point. We all know how painful it is to be in a divorce situation, especially when you have children in the mix. I have read/ heard/ know people in a situation where one parent is absent, and the other one is left with no choice to be the both mom and dad in the family. Worrying if you did your best, and still go to bed thinking and singing “I will survive!”.

But what about the struggles as a parent of a shared custody? How do you survive?

As a parent of a shared custody child, it has always been a tough time when I don’t have my daughter (it doesn’t help either that it was a bitter divorce).

The first few months after the custody agreement has been finalized, it was brutal.

You went from being with your child every single moment to only seeing her on certain days (I regret wishing for a “me time” by this point).

The times when I don’t have my daughter, I went through a myriad of emotions. Worrying if she was happy, if she even misses her mama, if she is sad and cries and wants my hugs and I am not there. I would even panic at times thinking about the things that I’m missing as she grows every day.

But alas, the saying “Time heals” does its wonders. I am also fortunate to have my awesome family and loyal friends who have helped me through these difficult and trying times.

I have learned to cope and survive by looking forward to the next time I have my daughter.

We would plan days, even months in advance for our next adventure! I have signed up and registered on different websites that caters to family and children events so I can pack as much as activities as I can that she would enjoy. We would check out any new movies for her, plan a play date with friends (mom and daughter day). We would check out you tube videos for arts and crafts, then go to stores and get the materials we need to create it ourselves. Weather permitting, we would also ride our bikes to a playground, then cool off at the next Tim Horton with an ice cap. I’d like to believe that something better even came out of this ordeal, because I wasn’t caught up anymore with the negativity of a bad marriage, I was able to focus on her potentials.

I got more in-tune to what she needs and wants.

And in turn, she was able to focus as well on herself knowing that I was there to support her no matter what. She was able to learn how to swim confidently, ride her bike enough for a trip to the woods. She was able to skate, rollerblade, and even skateboard. In winter time, we would go skating, tobogganing or just go down the hill with a plastic carpet!

And the times that I don’t have her? During the winter season, I was fortunate enough to find employment that would accommodate my after work hours. I would also pack my schedule with movie nights and hosting get together with family and friends. Fortunate enough to get invited to events, I will try to attend them all as much as I can; whether I have my daughter with me or not. Of course, there’s the never ending chores. I have become fond of redecorating various rooms in my house. I have also adopted a very cute senior dog from a shelter, to which I decided to groom myself. This keeps me busy and occupied when it’s just me and the four walls of the house. And when all is said and done, I would binge on my favourite shows and movies on Netflix.

I still miss my daughter a lot when she is not with me, but I just have to look in the glass and decide that its half full, rather than half empty.

If you are in the same boat as me, know that you are not alone. Getting caught up on the downside of things can spiral you out of control, and could lead to a more dangerous path. So surround yourself with people who will uplift you, support you and accept you for you who are without prejudice. Always look forward, think of ways to make your time with your little one like it’s the last day before she goes back to the other parent. Make a lasting memory with your child. Plan your days when you have your little one, and plan your days for yourself as well. Indulge on the things you like. Learn a new sport, catch up on your friends. Read a novel that is about to come out in a movie. Repaint your bedroom walls. Crank up your fave tunes while dusting and vacuuming.

Just be strong because your child depends on you. Be strong, because there is no other way.

By Lenie, mom to Amira

Check out more pics from this super fun photo shoot with this super fun family!

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