If you’re newly divorced, you know better than anyone how much life changes once the papers are signed. And those changes are magnified when children are involved. When there are two parents helping out with daily responsibilities, chores can be divided and conquered as a team. Now as a divorced dad, you are probably wondering how you will ever manage the entire household on your own.
Here are a few simple strategies for getting organized and prioritizing so that you can live a fulfilling new life as a single parent
Get it Out of Your Head
Parenting itself can be incredibly overwhelming. Single parenting can be even more so. As a divorced dad, you may be questioning how you will ever be able to juggle it all. Self-doubt may start creeping in right away. Don’t let overwhelm get you down. With a few quick steps, you can organize your to-do list and ensure you are getting the most critical tasks accomplished every day. We all only have 24 hours in a day, so as a divorced dad you must make the most out of each hour
1. Brain dump.
The worst thing you can do is keep everything bottled up inside your head. Not only will it weigh you down, but you are likely to forget something important. Instead, it is best to get it all out onto a piece of paper. By doing a brain dump, you’ll be able to get a view of everything on your plate in all different areas of your life. Here is how it works.
a. Grab a piece of paper (or several) and a pen.
b. Go somewhere distraction free where you can focus on the task at hand.
c. Set a timer for 50 minutes.
d. Start writing. Write down everything that you have going on in your head as far as tasks you need to complete. From the project going on at work to picking up the dry cleaning, no task is too small. Need to plan your daughter’s birthday party or make a grooming appointment for the dog? Want to start taking that CrossFit course at the local gym? List everything.
e. Keep writing until the timer goes off. If you run out of tasks to write, just sit there and reread your list. You will likely think of more.
What typically happens during a brain dump is that after 10-15 minutes you will feel as though you are finished, but in reality, you’ve just written the tasks that are most pressing. When you challenge yourself to keep thinking about it, you’ll find that there is much more under the surface. Getting it all out onto a piece of paper will not only help you prioritize what needs to get done, but it will also ease a lot of the stress and anxiety you are likely feeling as a newly divorced dad.
Now that you have a long list of tasks covering all areas of your life, you may wonder how you are going to accomplish it all. Here is the bad news: you won’t be able to do it all! We only have 24 hours in the day, and you just cannot accomplish every little thing that you want to. However, there is good news: you don’t need to! The chances are that many of the items on your list are not top priorities. So, how do you know what to prioritize?
Make a list of your top 10 priorities in life. Consider all aspects of your life including physical, mental, career, spiritual, family, and hobbies. Get detailed. Start by listing all of the priorities you can think of, and then narrow it down to the top 10
Once you have finished identifying your top ten priorities, you will have a built-in filter to go through your brain dump list. Simply ask yourself the question: does this task align with my top ten priorities? If the answer is no, it is time to find a way to automate the task, eliminate the task, delegate the task or at least drastically minimize the amount of time you invest into the task. As a newly divorced dad, you may immediately think this idea will cost money you don’t have. But there are many ways to get creative if you cannot afford to outsource and hire help. Can the kids help out with some of the chores? Is there a way to automate the task (i.e., building out 3-4 advanced grocery lists to rotate between)? Does the task really need to be completed at all?
Utilize an Online Calendar Ap
One of the best tools available to you as a newly divorced dad is a simple online Calendar app such as Google Calendar or Outlook that syncs with your smartphone. Having all of your daily responsibilities and schedule lined out will make it much easier to be in the right place at the right time day after day, especially in the beginning. Here are a few ways to use a calendar to make your life easier
1) Map out your daily routine in your calendar. Block off times in your calendar for everything that needs to get done on a daily basis. You can get as detailed as you need by including morning routine time blocks, commute times, school drop-offs, meetings and evening events. Live by your calendar.
2) Set reminders and alerts. By setting alerts on your calendar that syncs with your smartphone, you’ll automatically be reminded when you need to leave home to get your kids to school on time, leave for important meetings and be home in time for the bus drop off in the afternoon. Some calendar apps even sync with map and local traffic apps on your phone and can alert you when to leave based on actual commute time.
3) Share your calendar with your ex-wife. By sharing your calendar (at least portions of it) with your ex, you can decrease the amount of frustration between the two of you in your new life roles. Everything will be right there on the calendar for both of you to see, edit and add to.
Tweak as you Get Comfortable as a Divorced Dad
In the beginning, you may feel a bit lost and overwhelmed as a divorced dad. But as time goes on, you will adjust to life as a single parent. You may try things that work out great, and you may find that some strategies don’t work for you and your family. Always tweak your schedule, routine and organizational methods as you learn. There is no reason you cannot change the way you are doing things if it makes sense to do so. Ask for input from your kids and optimize your life as you go. The beauty of this world that we live in is that we can change as much as we need to in order to thrive.
Your life may have just been turned upside down, but that doesn’t mean you have to get lost in the overwhelm. You can have an organized and productive life as a divorced dad with just a few simple steps. Prioritize what is truly important and get rid of the rest, organize your list with a calendar and tweak your routine as often as you need to. Remember that you aren’t in this alone. There are lots of resources and support groups available to you whenever you need them.