Written by guest writer, Deborah Gussoff, In Order Inc.
Surprise, it’s pop quiz time! Choose one answer.
d) an opportunity for growth
e) all of the above
The good news is that there’s no one “right” answer; it depends on you, how you feel during any particular life transition, and how you view the world. For some, change can seem stressful and overwhelming while others perceive it as an exciting opportunity for growth. Regardless of the answer you chose above, it’s a given that divorce results in a variety of changes.
As a Certified Professional Organizer®, I often help my clients navigate life transitions, including divorce. Here are some tips to help you stay organized through the divorce process, and beyond.
- Create a portable file box to keep track of all the paperwork throughout the process. Sample categories might include the CIS statement; financial back-up; communications from your lawyer; communications from your partner’s lawyer; custody arrangements; financial settlement; interrogatories; etc.
- Once the divorce is finalized, be sure to create files for the important documents that need to be saved long-term: divorce decree, custody agreement, alimony settlement, child support, etc.
- Be sure to update/change beneficiaries on life insurance policies, will, pensions, etc.
- Update your health care proxy and power of attorney if your ex is listed as the person to make decisions on your behalf and this is no longer your desire.
- Set up a shared calendar (i.e., Cosi, Google calendar, etc.), particularly if you have joint custody, so both parents know when events like school vacations, sports games, performances, parent-teacher conferences, etc. are scheduled. Visitation dates and holidays, based on the custody agreement, should also be added to the master calendar.
- Time management is key. Plan your schedule based on what’s most important to accomplish each day. Delegate when possible: consider having groceries or prescriptions delivered; set up carpools with friends or neighbors; hire a personal concierge to help with errands, home tasks, dog walking.
- Frequently after one partner vacates the previously shared home, the rooms feel empty. Shelves are missing half of their contents, it may seem like there’s not enough furniture, there may be gaps where pictures or decorative items once were; in other words, the space feels incomplete. Take time to rearrange the furniture and decorative items so the space feels like it’s yours. If you have the budget, you may want to consider redecorating. If not, just adding different throw pillows to the couch, rearranging shelf contents and displays, rearranging the artwork may be sufficient to give the space a different feel.
- One client angled the kitchen table and re-assigned her kids to different chairs, so it didn’t feel like there was an empty space at the table.
- Evaluate items left behind. If your ex was the only coffee drinker in the house, you may choose to remove the Keurig from the kitchen counter.
- If you now have an empty closet in your bedroom, you may want to split your wardrobe into two areas – winter/summer, or work/casual.
- Like the airlines advocate, put on your own oxygen mask first. Whether that means scheduling time to exercise, journal, meditate, have a massage, or meet a friend for coffee, make sure you are taking care of you. When you feel tired and depleted, it’s hard to be really present for someone else.
Deborah Gussoff is a Certified Professional Organizer® with In Order Inc.. She has been helping clients streamline, simplify, and declutter their homes and lives since 1994. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-334-3477.