Many single mothers would agree that one of the biggest challenges they face is shared custody.
Not only is it logistically complex, but it can be emotionally draining too.
Yet, there are several benefits to this sometimes sensitive set-up. And it certainly can’t hurt to remind ourselves of them every now and then.
Whether you are still struggling as a part-time parent or you’ve found a happy balance that is working (for now), sit-back, relax and look on the bright side.
PERKS OF SHARED CUSTODY FOR SINGLE MUMS
1. SPEND ‘LESS QUANTITY / MORE QUALITY’ TIME WITH YOUR KIDS
It can seem unnatural when your children aren’t with you. Maternal instincts kick-in as you experience a premature bout of empty nest syndrome. If this happens, use your time to get all the boring jobs out of the way, such as cleaning and bulk cooking and freezing. Then, when your children return you’re all set to spend quality time with them. Less quantity and more quality time with your children forges happy, positive relationships.
2. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ‘ME TIME’
Enjoy the looks of pure envy when you tell married mums that you don’t have your kids for the weekend. Many mothers can only fantasise about “me time” so enjoy every minute of it. Head to a grown up movie, cook your favourite meal, become a DIY diva, or simply play your own music in the car for once. This is equally important if you experience loneliness or separation anxiety when parted from your kids. Try to keep yourself busy doing things you enjoy.
Further reading: How volunteering can seriously help your mental health.
3. WORK ON YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS)
Shared custody can reveal some great opportunities for personal development you would never have considered while in a typical family unit. Whether it’s a fitness goal, a return to study or a DIY project, they might be within reaching distance again. And remember, anything you do for yourself will benefit your children. If they see you making the most of your life, they will grow up making the most of their’s. So go for it!
4. TEST RUN A NEW RELATIONSHIP
Do you feel ready to start dating again? If so, it can be tricky with important little people around. No doubt you want to take it slow. And it’s important to get to know a potential partner before involving your children. Shared custody allows you time to do just this. Even if it becomes a long-term commitment, having some time without your children will allow you to build a healthy, well-deserved relationship.
Get more support here: What nobody tells you about dating with kids.
Perks of shared custody (cont.)
5. BIN THE BABYSITTERS NUMBER
Depending on your personal shared custody arrangements, it’s possible you can fit social activities in while your children are with their dad. Meaning you don’t need to rely on babysitters or nannies to care for your children. Not only does this ease the financial burden but it takes away the stress of finding suitable help, and of course relieves any guilt you may feel when you go out.
6. UNDERSTAND THAT YOU’RE MAKING YOUR KIDS HAPPIER
If you find yourself in a low moment, consider how shared custody can benefit your kids. As you no longer live with their father it may have reduced conflict in their life considerably. Not only that, children who live between homes often develop stronger, closer bonds with each parent. Plus, due to the two-home set-up, they quickly become independent, capable and organised. This in-turn, helps them at school and through the rest of their lives (and helps you get them out the door in the morning!).
7. RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES
Being a mother, any mother, can be relentless. Gone are the nine-to-five work days. It can be utterly exhausting. Yet with a shared custody arrangement you have perfect opportunities to recharge your batteries on a regular basis. Make sure you use this time to rest. Whether it’s a lie-in or a relaxing walk. Then you’ll be firing on all cylinders when your children make their eager and pleasantly exhausting return.
Just in case you weren’t already making the very most of shared custody, I hope you will now.
We all cope differently with our parental arrangements. What works for one family, won’t work for another. It’s about making the very best of your situation, not only for your children, but for yourself too.