As a single parent, your New Year's resolutions affect not only yourself, but your children as well. Though your divorce may have been difficult, taking that negativity over into the new year will sap your physical, mental and emotional energy, leaving you without the ability to care for your children the way that you want to. This year, instead of making vague New Year's resolutions that you have little intention to keep, put the focus on strengthening your personal life and building a better relationship with your kids.
Commit to Better Health With Your Children
Too often after a divorce, the depression and sense of loss leads to horrific living practices. You eat more fast food, break your sleep schedule and exercise less than ever before, and the end result is a steady deterioration of your health. The situation gets even worse for fathers who have only limited visitation rights. You want to show your kids that you are the "fun" parent and want each visit to seem special. There's a tendency to overindulge the kids by treating them to pizza and ice cream or other unhealthy meals every time they come to see you. These practices teach your children unhealthy habits that will stay with them for the rest of their life.
As an alternative, look for healthy ways to spend time with your kids. Instead of ordering fast food or eating at restaurants during a visit, learn how to cook healthy meals together. Rather than watching movies or playing video games on the weekend, teach your kids how to play an outdoor sport or take bike rides as a family. Not only do you reinforce healthy habits in your children, but you build the kind of lasting memories they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
Keep a Journal
The hardest part of getting past a divorce, outside of custody issues, is dealing with the emotional wounds. Talking through your issues is the first step towards healing, and a journal is an ideal place to start. Set aside an hour a week to write about the things that you are feeling and concerns that you have for the future.This is an opportunity for deep reflection, so be open and honest with yourself. Over time, as the wounds start to heal, you can take a look back at your previous entries to see how far you've come.
As part of your journal writing exercise, write about the things that you want to achieve or change in your life. Vocalizing your goals, even if only to yourself in a private journal, gives them substance. This is a time to think about where you want to be in a month, a year or even a decade in the future, and as you accomplish some of your smaller goals, you are motivated to reach for those that once seemed out of reach.
One of the worst things that you can do as you adjust to your newly single status is to become withdrawn. Seeing old friends and spending time with your family gets difficult, especially when it seems as though everyone wants to ask about your ex or pry into how you're feeling, but pulling away from the people who love you the most will only hurt you in the long run. Among your New Year's resolutions, pledge to reach out to your support group and allow them to help you heal and move forward.
If the pain is still too great there are support groups for single fathers all over the area that you can go to. Here you will find men who share your same issues and who can offer some insight into how to handle some of the problems you're facing. Even if all you do is attend a gathering just to listen, you will find out that you are not alone. In reaching out and talking through your pain, you don't allow bitterness or depression to take over your life and you can be mentally and emotionally healthy for your children.
Sort Your Finances
The financial landscape after a divorce may seem very bleak and adjusting to the new financial reality takes time. Unfortunately, any hiccups that you have in your own personal finances cause ripples that affects the lives of your children. Understand that you will need to cut some expenses as you adapt to your new situation, but this is also a great opportunity. Start by creating a budget. This budget should include detailed lists of not only your monthly expenses, but also the annual expenses you incur, like vehicle registration and maintenance.
Trim whatever items you can to free as much cash as possible in the beginning. You'll find that it's easier to increase spending to bring back lost luxuries than it is to make deep cuts in your budget in the middle of the year.
It's very easy to let any New Year's resolutions for better finances fall apart when it comes to spending money on your children. Be sure to include line items in your monthly and annual budgets dedicated to the time that you spend with them, and don't be tempted to overspend as a way to compensate for the lack of time that they spend with you. It's much more important that your children understand that you still love them and you are still there for them, even though you don't share a roof any more.
The best New Year's resolutions always have concrete goals and a way to measure progress or success. As you make your list, note the ways that you can show you've made progress and by the end of next year, you will be amazed at how far you've come.