Divorced after 18 years. Joe specializes in helping men transition from "husband" to "divorced dad."
Now That You've Got a House, It's Time to Make It Your Home
If you were like me, all you had when you started your journey as a divorced dad was what would fit in your car. While this made moving an effortless endeavor, once you are all moved in, the emptiness of the apartment will be a little intimidating.
The first few days will be awkward. It will feel like you are living in a motel. It will be lonely and stressful. Let not your heart be troubled. Like an intense game of Tetris, the blocks slowly will fall into place. Rome was not built in a day, neither will your home. The good news is you will be able to build your Rome how you want.
Eat Out or Dine at Home?
We all love food. We all love eating. Fast food, pizza, and take-out should not be your only source of sustenance. You are a divorced dad, not a college student. You need to cook for yourself. There is a delight in the ability to take raw food and turn it into a delicious meal; it's damn near magic. Cooking takes your mind to a different place too.
Now, more than ever, you need to distract yourself, and cooking is a way to do this. Cooking is also a fantastic way to bond with our kids. This bonding starts with the trip to the grocery store. While you get the ingredients you need for the meal, let your kids pick the dessert. The complexity of the dessert should coincide with the age of your child. For example, you let younger kids choose between the tube of peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie dough.
This first thing to do is get the tools you need. Yes, I said it, "tools." If you are going to build a shelf, you need tools. If you are going to "build" a meal, you need tools. Pots and pans are the hammer and screwdriver of the cooking trade. Power tools make building easy, same with cooking. The funny thing about cooking, though, is a novice can use cooking "power tools."
The first power tool I recommend for every divorced dad is a slow cooker. This is a device that cooks food over many hours. You can set this up as you leave for work in the morning and the aroma from a slow cooker greets you when you get home. You can make anything in a slow cooker. If you are not ready to make deep-dish pizza, no worries. Meat and sauce are really all you need to make a great meal.
These meals can be supper for a day or two and maybe even lunch. If you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves. If you need ideas for your slow cooker, just Google "slow cooker recipes," and you will find a cornucopia of different pages with recipes.
The next kitchen power tool I recommend is a rice cooker. This will make perfect rice each and every time. Take one part rice, two parts water, dump them in the rice cooker, and in about 20 minutes, you have rice. You will find rice goes with everything, especially the juice and sauce from the slow cooker.
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Invest in Second-Hand Furniture
Your belly is full; now you need a place to sit down and relax. Your home is your empty canvas. You can furnish your home how you want, but this will take time. Never forget, being a divorced dad means you have to maintain two households.
No matter how you currently feel about your ex, she doesn't matter; your kids do. If you have to buy second-hand furniture because of the child support you pay, so be it. The good news is you can find some great second-hand furniture if you know where to look. This is also a great bonding opportunity for you and your Kids. Have them help you look for furniture.
Looking for second-hand furniture is like looking for a used car. The same theory applies. You want "kinda newish" with "not a lot of miles." I found my futon and bed (not mattress and box spring) on the "free" section of craigslist. I wanted a futon like this (wooden, not metal tubes) for a long time.
Weather permitting, you can find all kinds of furniture at garage/yard/estate sales. That $800 couch they sell at the furniture store could be $50 or less at a garage sale. Another place to find good deals on second-hand furniture is Goodwill.
I have found Ikea has pretty good furniture, so don't sell it short. It's inexpensive, and it looks good. You never know what treasures you will find. You may even find a chair that matches that futon you found. You have to put everything together, but you're a dad; you can handle it.
Lastly, your bed—a mattress and box spring are the only things I recommend getting from a store. Second-hand mattresses are just—there's no other word for it—icky. The best part, you can get exactly the kind of mattress you have always wanted because you are going to be the only one sleeping in it. I went out and got a queen-size Tempurpedic mattress.
What Did We Learn?
Making your house your home never stops. Don't hesitate to decorate your home the way you want. That Stormtrooper stand-up you won from work that she never let you display . . . PUT IT OUT! This is your home.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.