Wednesday, July 14, 2010

School holidays awesomeness

What did you do with the kids these school holidays?
Organise a plethora of play dates? Trips to the zoo and/or museum? Allowed hours of unprecendented time on TV/DVD/DS or other normally naughty activities?
Me? I took my kids to a workshop for kids from separated families. Because I am all kinds of awesome when it comes to school holiday activities!
It was particularly difficult, as the first week, my kids holidayed on Bribie Island with my Ex and his partner and her family. How could I possibly hope to compete with that?
However, the course had been highly recommended to us by the childrens' school psychologist as well as my own shrink, and it just happened to be held during "my" week. And so it was that we put the trips to Dreamworld and the museum to one side, and headed into the city each morning for the course.
All my fears that the kids would resent the holiday program disappeared on day one, when they headed off happily with the other kids and their carers, and played pirates and shipwrecks. (You've got to love the shipwreck analogy of a broken marriage, don't you?)
For the first time they were able to talk to other adults and most importantly kids about the positives and negatives of their parents' break-up. (Sadly in our case it was mostly negatives ... but at least they got it out of their systems). For the first time, they were able to talk to kids who understood exactly what they were going through. (Most of their school buddies and family are all from "intact" families).
For the first time, Mr 9, who has Aspergers, was able to put a name to some of his feelings and to cry for everything he had lost. And he did this with other kids, including older boys. There was some serious male bonding going on.
Miss 7 also felt comforted, as older girls in the group, took her under their 'wings' and made her feel safe.
Both H. and C. wanted the course to continue forever, but of course, life isn't like that, and this week they had to go back to school.
As for me - I have counselling to do with my own grief and loss, and didn't learn anything new. However, it was comforting to know that the kids were able to talk to someone other than me about their loss ... and to be accepted by their peers who understood their feelings. And it was lovely for me, to meet a few other parents, who were as keen as I am to help their kids through this massive change in their lives.
As for my worries, that a week in counselling could not compete with heated pools and Australia Zoo, after the first visit the kids wanted to go back every day. And at the week's end, there were tears, because they wanted to continue. It doesn't get much better than that!
And you know what? They actually found a few good things have resulted from our separation. The Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny always come twice, and apparently Santa will too!
The program also reinforced the knowledge that although their Dad and I have broken up, we still love them very much, and we will always be there for them.
When I eventually find the cable for my camera to connect to the computer, I'll have a few photos to share, but in the meantime: What are your hints to help kids deal with break-ups in the family?

If you go:
Children First, offered by Centacare Catholic Family and Community Services has helped at least 700 children and their families through the changes that occur in everyday family living when parents separate and divorce.
For details go to


Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

I have no suggestions, but I know that my Damn Emos did benefit from sibling camps for sibs of kids with disabilities. Just being able to talk freely without worrying about people judging them was wonderful for them.

Good on you for making this happen for them. You are an AWESOME mum.

Unknown said...

Thank you Kelley. Most of the time I just muddle through it, but it's always nice when something works out well!

Unknown said...

Hi Bronnie,

So sorry I've not visited in ages!! Life's been a bit hectic the last few weeks...

I like the new look of your blog - LOVE the new header picture!

And I agree - I think you are the most AWESOME mother to do all this for your kids. My mother - much as I love her - was very bitter and vindictive after my parents' divorce and really tried to use me as a go-between to get back at my father, which was very unpleasant for me all through my childhood and teens until I was adult enough to be brave enough to tell her "No" and to do her own dirty work. So I really admire mothers who can put their children's needs before their own, however much they might be justified in feeling bitter towards their ex!

It's fantastic also that there are places like this for children now - speaking as a child from a "broken family" myself, I can say that it makes a huge difference to not feel like you're some kind of freak coz you don't have the perfect family. As you said, just being somewhere where you can be honest about your feelings and not feel judged is worth all the theme parks in the world!

Take care and hope we get a chance to catch up soon -

Taryn said...

Bronnie I don't have any suggestions but I think that what you did here for your children is wonderful. The investment that you have shown in your children's wellbeing is to be commended. Hopefully the transition for them will be a smooth one. And then you can give yourself a big pat on the back. xx

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

You're such a caring mum Bronnie and your kids are really lucky! :) I don't really have any suggestions but I just wanted to say that.

Alison Gibbs said...

This course sounds really good for the kids. It sounds like something my 8yo grandson and 6 yo granddaughter would benefit from. My daughter has been seperated 4 years and the 8yo is having a few behavioural issues.
Might let my daughter know about it.
You did the perfect thing for your kids in the holidays

Unknown said...

Thank you so much ladies. I admit, I may have had something in my eye, just reading them. xo