Your First Solo Year - An Overview
Being a single parent isn’t what you wanted for yourself or your children.
But, here you are.
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what’s coming up for you emotionally right now and that you actually address it. Pretending it doesn’t exist, putting on a brave face and soldiering on, just means it’s going to come out later in much nastier ways. That isn't good for you or your kids.
I’m not suggesting retreating into a cave of self-pity. There’s no time for that.
The reality is you’ve got things to do if you and your kids are going to get through to the other side of this thing and be okay.
I get it. It’s tough.
The other guys you’re going to see quoted on this site get it to. We’re going to be a virtual support group for you.
The point is this: We got through it and you can too.
It’s A Process
Though the amount of time in each phase will vary, the first year as a single dad roughly shakes out like this.
The beginning of the graph represents where you are before the split. Though some will say their separation “came out of the blue”, the reality is this rarely happens. Even if you did not see it coming, your partner did and the relationship is in decline.
The reasons for this are numerous, but, in most cases, it’s been on the rocks for a while and you've been unable to stop its decline. You and your partner have been living consistently below the baseline of well-being pictured above as “The Good Life”. And then it happens.
The split happens and it feels like you've been dropped off a cliff. Confusion reigns.
While trying to navigate the logistics of custody schedules and who’ll live where along with the legal wrangling involved with the division of assets and co-parenting agreements, you're dealing with the grief of your broken relationship and trying to hold it together for the kids.
And life doesn’t stop to wait for you to catch up. The job, the laundry, the cooking, the bills and the rest of life’s commitments keep on coming.
It’s the worst.
But, eventually, with focus and hard work, the initial chaos subsides and things level out.
This phase feels like just existing. A lot of guys describe this as a sort of “zombie-like” state of being. You're going through the motions and plodding through while you lick your wounds.
On the positive side, as you come into an acceptance of your new circumstances, you're also learning. Every red sock in a load of whites, botched attempt at painting fingernails or awkward conversation about puberty is you coming into your own as a single parent.
In short, you’re starting to get the hang of it.
After what feels like an eternity of stumbling around, you can start to see a break in the trees and sunlight ahead as you push past the malaise and start to piece your new life together.
Though expressed above as a straight line heading upwards, it's seldom that smooth. The Rebuild phase is littered with peaks and valleys. But, when you take a step back, you can see you're on your way back to the Good Life you had before and maybe… somewhere better.
Though it's unlikely you'll get here in the first year, it represents the goal you're aiming for. And it's always good to have a goal.
This phase sees you emerging from this difficult experience as a new person. You've learned from your experience and ideally have an even stronger bond with your children than you did previously. There are still ups and downs with the ex, but overall you're co-parenting well. You've got a newfound energy for work and life and are possibly even open to exploring a romantic commitment with someone new.
So, hang on.
There is a whole bunch of stuff on this site to help you through the next little while.
Head on over to the assessment tool and jump in.