6 Ways That Helped Me Navigate My Divorce

A United Front

When initially broaching the news of your separation with your child, think it through thoroughly. Ideally, agree with your (ex) partner what you are going to tell them, and plan a time when you can both talk to them together. A joint approach to communicating removes the chance for different versions, limits confusion, and lets your child know that despite splitting up, there is still togetherness when it comes to things relating to them.

Thinking things through first, including what answers you might give to their questions, can reduce stress and the possibilities of saying something that you might have expressed differently with more pre-thought. It also helps you present a united front.

Speak the Truth

When my ex and I split, we recognised that there would be an impact on our boys, and that there would be a transitional time. We felt strongly that the immediate impact could be managed by being clear with them about what was going to happen, why, and what it would mean for them in practical terms.

The number one thing we wanted the boys to know was that the split wasn't their fault, that they didn't do anything to cause it, and therefore they could not do anything to fix it. We used these exact words, and I've never heard them ever question any of these statements since then.

There Will be Changes

We told them that we loved them very much and that we had decided we could be better parents separately, that we would both be happier that way. We avoided blame, kept it simple, united, and age appropriate. We told them that we would soon have two homes - prompting our 3-year-old to say he knew what that meant..."two kitchens with two toasters!"

In terms of the minimising impact on your professional life, childcare arrangements may need reviewing and updating if one parent can no longer help with school runs. Back up plans for days when the children are unwell may need altering too. I'd recommend that children know about new arrangements in advance to prevent anxieties building up.

A Good Support Network

Beyond the practical, putting in place support systems outside and inside work, plus making a commitment to proper self-care can make a significant difference. No matter how cordial a divorce is, and many aren't, it's a major life change and upheaval. Life will be affected until things settle down. You will need close friends and family to talk to and make peace with the idea that you might not always be firing on all cylinders.

Focus on You Too

Be on your own side - eat healthily, take time out, get enough sleep and make sure you aren't isolated.

Moving home, sorting out finances, living with uncertainties and working out children's arrangements are all emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. With marriage grief to deal with too, not to mention lawyers, it can become a pressured time. Having a support system in place can be an important boost in talking care of yourself, and avoiding slipping into habits that will hold you back.

Healthy outlets for stress mean not only coping better at work but also being a better parent, by being able to be there emotionally for your child at the times when they most need you.

Find a Distraction

At work, communicate with your manager about what is going on regularly, so that expectations are realistic, and support can be provided where appropriate. This might be to pass on work when you are under pressure, or an understanding that you shouldn't start a big project the week of a vital court date. Make the most of any stress support that HR offers too.

I loved working during my divorce. I recently encouraged a friend going through a split to allow work to be a positive distraction, a chance to switch off from constantly thinking about the details of the divorce and worries about the future. Having something 'non-divorce related' to focus on for a large chunk of the day, can be an absolute lifesaver.

Harriet Waley-Cohen, Health Coach