“Please, there is no other time.” He pled with his ex-wife. In a twist that only divorced parents can appreciate, he was asking her to take their daughters dress shopping for his second wedding. They were leaving for the wedding on Friday – in three days. She sighed, knowing that her daughters needed dresses, but she had obligations on her calendar.
His first attempt, two days prior was a complete and total disaster. The girls had arrived home Monday with new dresses. On Tuesday, she asked them to model, only to find the dresses were ill-fitting and too clingy for their teenage bodies. She texted him pictures. “Is this what you were going for?” “WHAT THE…!!!” He responded, “This is NOT what they looked like in the store.” Thus leading to the pleading at the beginning of our story.
Was this really her problem? How many times in the last 16 years had she been inconvenienced for the sake of her children and just had to suck it up? How many times had she had to just make it work? Why couldn’t he just figure it out?
“Okay. I will take them.” After having pushed through the resentment and the annoyance, she saw the issue for what it was – her daughters needed appropriate dresses for their dad’s wedding. They needed them now. She was the only available parent.
So many times this is the bane of a divorced parent’s experience. Moms and dads driving across town, thirty minutes out of their way, to pick up the forgotten football helmet. Those same moms and dads, sighing in response to their former spouses last-minute request for a schedule change – knowing that if they could make the request happen they should, otherwise they may be held hostage when a similar request might surface for themselves.
If there were one must-have skill I would recommend for divorced or divorcing parents it would be to learn how to plan ahead. Find the way it works for you and extra bonus if you can find a way that also works for your former spouse.
From the very beginning of my divorce days, I have been printing a monthly calendar and working through designating the days ahead for six months in advance. I work through the holiday adjustments, note any days off of school or special occasions, and send it off to my spouse to make sure we are on the same page. (I do know many parents who opt to use a more *cough* up-to-date method and use a digital app for family calendaring).
I have had to train my brain to think in two-week increments. I plan ahead for groceries when my children will be eating at my house, I plan ahead with weather for clothes they need for weekends at my house, I plan ahead for transportation issues that may arise in a week.
Being prepared and planning ahead for shifting your children between households, makes the transitions easier for everyone. It minimizes disputes, clarifies the calendar, and provides predictability – all part of the master plan.