After my divorce I had a hard time being away from my kids. Here’s a simple tradition that I started to ease my anxiety and remind my kids how important they are to me.
Over the years, I have been asked by many newly divorced dads how I coped with my emotions during the times away from my kids. This separation anxiety affects guys in the most unique moments during the early stages of divorce. I especially felt it when I dropped my kids off at school. One day as I was heading to work, I came up with an idea that helped ease the anxiety for me.
My idea was actually very simple. When my kids were with me, I took Polaroid photos of everyday moments. (If you don’t know what a Polaroid is, think of it as the digital camera of the 80’s and 90’s.) As I packed their lunches for the next day, I secretly put a photo in each lunchbox. At lunchtime, my kids were greeted with a photo and sometimes a note that reminded them how much they meant to me and how lucky I was to be their dad.
My kids have told me that they always looked forward to lunch to see what I had left for them. These photos and notes were my way of showing my kids I was always thinking of them and it definitely made a positive impact on our relationship during my divorce transition.
Here are some tips on making your own “Polaroid Memories”:
- Keep a disposable camera around the house at all times (low tech, high return!). A digital camera will also work.
- Develop or print some pictures of just you and your child and keep them handy.
- Take a variety of shots of the things you like to do together. Vacations are a great time to build an inventory of photos.
- Write brief notes to your children on index cards. Remind them that you feel lucky to be their dad and how special they are in your life.
- Hide the notes and photos in their room, lunchbox or any place they won’t be expecting it.
- If you are a high tech dad, you can send text messages and photos to your kid’s phone but don’t rely on technology completely. Physical photos will mean more to your kids and they are more likely to become treasured mementos.
Follow up: I recently asked my kids what they thought about this tradition I started. I found out that they had saved my pictures and notes. Without hesitation, they retrieved what they saved and proudly showed them to me. I can’t think of a greater reward than that.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”