Life after divorce is challenging, especially for a single parent. Here are signs that you might be “stuck.”

By Carolyn Ellis

Divorce is a game-changer and can turn your whole world upside down quickly. It’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Without creating a big picture for our lives (the forest), it’s easy to get stuck in the daily issues of being a single parent (the trees).

All parents have a lot on their plates, but single parents have additional responsibilities. For you, life can be a blur of managing your children, rebuilding your life, dealing with your ex, and coping with your career. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose your bearings on what the big picture is of what your life after divorce can look like.

One pitfall many single parents make is failing to establish what they’d like their new life to look and feel like. It’s critical to stop and create a new vision for yourself and your life after divorce.

At the beginning of life as a single parent, your big picture might just be getting through the day, and you may require support from a trusted friend or divorce coach. When you consistently accomplish your vision, your next step might be to get through the holiday season without major emotional upset.

Here are some signs you might be stuck and in need of creating a powerful vision for your life after divorce:

  • You feel like you’re always reacting and putting out fires. You feel overwhelmed and find yourself reacting defensively to situations, even if they are situations you’ve faced before. You are impatient and frustrated. You feel little sense of progress in how you and your children are coping with the divorce.
  • Your game plan is survival. Your biggest ambition is to simply survive the day. The idea of thriving after your divorce seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea. You feel powerless and thoughts of “Why is this happening to me?” are common. Your plan is to simply put one foot in front of the other and hope that you don’t get knocked off your feet along the way.
  • You feel like you’ve lost your bearings. You feel awash in a totally new situation with your divorce, and it’s hard to know where you’re headed. You feel ill-suited to helping your children navigate this new territory because you really don’t know where you’re headed. You are confused, and there is no consistent context for the decisions you make. The future looks unclear and uncertain to you.
  • Your mood and energy level is low. You often wake up in the morning feeling tired or listless. You may wake up in the night with lots of thoughts or worries and find it difficult to get back to sleep. You feel like your inner reserves of energy, strength, and resiliency are low.

Without having the big picture in mind, it’s easy to get bogged down in the challenges that life as a single mom or dad throws your way every day. Without a vision, the first hurdle you encounter—whether it’s a late child-support payment, a school concert which you and your ex both attend, or another meeting with the lawyers—will feel insurmountable unless you know where you want to go.

Don’t go it alone. Get the support of a divorce coach, therapist, or experienced and trusted friend to help you start to put together a new big picture of your life after divorce.

CE Pitfalls coverExcerpted with permission from the award-winning book The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid So Your Children Thrive After Divorce by Carolyn B. Ellis. Carolyn Ellis is the Founder of and She is an award-winning coach, transformational expert and is also the creator of the award-winning The Divorce Resource Kit. Combining her deep intuitive abilities with her Harvard-trained brain, Carolyn specializes in helping individuals navigate change and uncertainty by tapping into their own inner brilliance and emotional resilience. To learn more or to book a session, please visit