Posted by Kristine | Filed under Kristine
Well it’s been almost five years since I split from my ex and things seem to be going fairly smoothly. There are bumps in the road, of course, but nothing that can’t be overcome. We were fairly amicable when dividing things up originally and have kept things civil since. Considering we see each other at least a couple times a week, it’s pretty much a requirement that we get along to some degree. Despite friends and acquaintances trying to tell me what I should have done and what I should have went after in the beginning, I couldn’t bring myself to fight tooth and nail for things I wasn’t guaranteed to get. Plus to end up hating each other over stuff that now seems so trivial was not worth the stress.
There are some advantages to staying amicable – mainly in regards to our son’s well-being but also in ways it can relate to the budget. Here are a few examples:
We both work full-time but my ex makes more than I do and our son is with me so child support comes to me once a month. We both know the rules and are up front with each other about what we make and the fact that payments must be made or else there are serious consequences! Although we initially settled through a lawyer (which I dished out the fee for, just to have everything legalized), we haven’t needed one since. We have had some disagreements on payments but when I compare my case to others, I am happy just to be getting regular payments. I couldn’t imagine bringing up my son without the support. Every year we discuss wage increases and he adjusts his payments accordingly. We also agreed on post-dated cheques so all months are covered right from the start of the year.
Hockey and Sports Equipment
Our son plays rep hockey and it’s not cheap! But I would never take it away from him because he is getting so much more out of it than money can buy. Each level he has moved up (3 levels over the past 4 years), I’ve had to discuss the fees and overall costs with his dad. At times I’ve really had to work hard to convince him of the benefits of moving up and how it will be worth the price to do it. At first, he fought it and could not see the value of it. I think once he saw how good it was for our son and had feedback from other parents, he lightened up about it. Since tryouts and registration happen months before the actual season starts, we need full communication early on to settle everything and make sure it’s going to happen. This year, our son needed all new equipment. I had never asked my ex to help pay for it before but this year I had to. I added up everything (it cost a lot more than previous years!) and gave him the estimate. Thankfully, he paid half and didn’t fight it. He will also be taking him to at least one of his tournaments which will save me from taking a day off work and any extra expenses that pop up while killing time in between games. Luckily for him it’s a local tournament and there are no hotel stays for this one!
This can be a tough area to compromise on for a lot of people. We all have our traditions and want our kids to grow up having great memories. I had a tough time at first adjusting to the change – especially at Christmas and for summer holidays. But after a couple of years things started to get easier. Of course I miss getting together with my ex’s side for Christmas but I am happy that my son gets to experience the “big family” celebrations he gets with them. He spends Christmas Eve with them and Christmas Day with my dad and I. We actually enjoy the low-key day together and always make sure he gets a “fun” gift we can work on as a family that day. Dividing up the gifts is a big help as well. I’m trying to spend less every year and this year will be especially challenging now that I am sticking to my budget. But I’m already putting money away and hope to get through this one without using my credit card. Summer holidays have also been a planning nightmare. I prefer to have it all figured out in May or June. My ex is a bit more spontaneous so there have been a few conflicts in the past. This summer, however, seemed to go pretty smoothly and cost me a bit less. My son went to camp one week (he enjoys it so much he wants to go for two next summer, which I will save up for!) and was with his dad for two weeks and me for one. The rest of the summer was split up between family and friends and my son didn’t really have time to get bored. It saved money as well as time and stress having to run him to camp or other programs all summer long.
With planning, communication and some compromise, it IS possible to save stress and money by being amicable. There will be times when things don’t always work out as planned but the challenge is to learn that these things will happen and sometimes we don’t have control over it! Give yourself a 24-hour rule to cool down and then deal with it. In some cases, the problem goes away; in other cases, it can be a lot easier to deal with afterwards. When I look at my son and see he is generally happy and always looks forward to seeing his dad (and to coming home to me too!), I am happy we are taking the steps to stay amicable and have him see us communicate. I’m very grateful things are turning out the way they are.