Being a single, single dad.
Yes, being a single dad meant I was single. This also meant that I was single and unattached. Nevertheless, the first year was all about being separated, working on the divorce papers and taking custody of the kids.
No, I didn’t steal the kids away from their mom. She was given plenty of opportunities to also have shared custody. She didn’t show up to her court dates. Didn’t pay her lawyers and so forth. This caused a longer divorce than it otherwise should have been. But eventually, I got the house and the kids, she got the villas in Bali.
In the first year of my separation/divorce, I had my hands full with the kids. I had to cook, clean and do laundry on top of taking kids to guitar, karate and singing lessons. Even if I wanted to, there was no time for dating.
The kids and work were my number one priority. This was not hard to achieve. As long as they were healthy and happy I was happy, it was that simple.
Dealing with a new lifestyle.
The hardest thing about dealing with the new lifestyle was nighttime. My son and daughter were asleep by 9 pm. I usually went to bed at about 11.
Once a week I played soccer and since the kids were responsible and trustworthy leaving them once a week until 10 pm or so was totally possible.
The evenings were quiet. I was either playing video games, watching a movie or writing.
At night I did what I wanted as long as it was at home. Besides, I always had a load of laundry to do. I had plenty of frustrations with my daughter pulling off her pants and underwear in one go. To be clear her underwear was rolled into her jeans as she pulled them off in one go. Eventually, it came to the point of teaching her how to do the laundry and having her do her own laundry.
Slowly her duties included cleaning her bathroom. She had and still has the habit of brushing her teeth in the shower. This meant that large chunks of toothpaste would dry on the bottom of the tub. Much like the laundry, she was warned… Comply to simple rules or do it yourself.
How do you cope?
This was not hard. It wasn’t even so much as coping. It was as simple as managing a job or a project. Except it was ongoing and the consequences were much more problematic if things went wrong.
My daughter is older and took care of herself. My son and I had our evening routine and read many, many books… Garfield, Sesame Street, and Scooby-Doo books were what we read in those early years. This was not new. We have had this routine for years since my son would only go to sleep with me even before my divorce.
Coping was simply doing. Doing what needed to be done was my simple rule. If there were problems between the kids or myself, we talked about it, discussed and came up with solutions. Keeping a level head about all the situations and good discussions were all that we needed.
Making your life easier.
This may not work for everyone. It worked for me. Keeping the kids in the loop on all the important things worked for me. It gave them a sense of decision-making and responsibility.
One day we went to the mall. My daughter was all about Jimmy Choo and Aritzia and so on. Less expensive than the big designers and all but she always wanted something. Anyhow. I went to the ATM and took out $200. I handed each kid $100 and said, buy whatever you want, the money is yours.
The funniest thing was that by the time we walked up and down the mall in the end they came out with exactly $100 dollars each. Neither of them spent a penny and I walked away with probably an extra $100 in my account since I didn’t need to spend a penny more than the $200.
Conclusion: I learned a valuable lesson. Give kids the responsibility and they will learn and adapt. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they learn.
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