What are some tips and tricks for parenting through divorce? If you can’t make your marriage work anymore, how can you make it the best for the kids?
Today’s Guest is Ashlee from Ashlee Marie — and the YouTube channel Ashlee Marie Cakes (where she makes AMAZING homemade meals that you can easily replicate for your family!). You can also find mouth-watering dishes on her Instagram. She is a long-time blog friend and was very open for this episode, which I (and hopefully you) really appreciated!
Big thanks to today’s sponsor Family Routines — during our Parenting Through series, you’ll find that during times of stress — routines make all the difference. Be sure to use the code mentioned in the episode!
In this episode we talk about:
- Picking a lawyer
- Handling kid’s questions during divorce
- Using counseling during divorce
Producer: Drew Erickson
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Hilary Erickson 0:00
Hey guys welcome back to the pulling curls podcast! Today on Episode 39, we are NOT talking about cake, although that’s normally what I talk with today’s show guests. Today we’re actually going to talk about parenting through divorce. There are lots of things to consider, plenty of people get divorced, so let’s untangle it. Welcome to the polling girls podcast where we untangle everything from pregnancy parenting, home routines, even some family travel because heavens knows our lives are tangled. I’m your host, Hilary Erickson.
Okay, before we jump in, I would just like to ask you for a review. This is super awkward, but the more reviews we get the more we get heard. Please leave some stars leave some words we’d really appreciate it. Also, if you’re looking for more parenting tips, I do have a practical parenting series that’s totally free. You can check it out in the show notes. Okay, today’s guest actually usually makes cake on the YouTubes, you can find her at Ashlee Marie. You can find her at Ashlee Marie cakes on Instagram, but most Often I find her on her Tuesday livestream she makes dinner or dessert just makes it with you just like you’re sitting with her in her kitchen, which is awesome. Ashlee and I met at a conference she was wearing a unicorn onesie and I was not but we had a great time and we have been friends ever since today I want to introduce my guest Ashlee Marie. This episode of The pulling curls podcast is sponsored by family routines, how to automate your housewife life ever wish life was more like you pictured it would be before you had kids. Being able to spend less time with the mundane tasks and more time teaching kids the fun and valuable life skills you know they need. Family Routines teaches families to simplify daily tasks into routines that help them feel more peace and joy. Save 15% with the coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find it at pullingcurls.com in the menu under COURSES or in this episode’s show notes. Hey, Ashlee, welcome to the pulling curls podcast!
Ashlee Marie 1:56
Thanks for having me.
Hilary Erickson 1:57
Yeah. So Ashlee, tell us a little bit about your family. Like the ages of your kids, stuff like that.
Ashlee Marie 2:03
Yeah, I am the mom of five children. My oldest is 18. And my youngest is eight. So I have a 10 year span.
Hilary Erickson 2:09
Yeah. So and you are now officially divorced-
Ashlee Marie 2:12
I am officially divorced, yes.
Hilary Erickson 2:15
Yeah. We met I don’t know. 2001. And you were gonna get divorced?
Ashlee Marie 2:22
Hilary Erickson 2:23
yeah. We met early on in every conference. I’d be like, are you divorced yet? And you’d be like, no. So it was
Ashlee Marie 2:29
only one it was definitely the question of the three and a half years it took to get divorced.
Hilary Erickson 2:34
Yeah. So there are a lot of mechanics of divorce. you have any tips for the actual like logistics of getting divorced?
Ashlee Marie 2:42
Yes. 100%. I have.
I thought that it was going we both wanted the divorce. So I thought this is going to be smooth. This is going to be easy. I just went with a cheap lawyer. He went with a cheap lawyer. And we had so many problems because of it. Because at the end of the day, no matter how how much you both want the divorce, the divorce looks different to both of you. And so you both have different expectations as a final outcome. And because we had cheap lawyers, it just dragged and dragged and dragged and dragged And the worst part about two and a half, three years into the divorce. Our divorce got cancelled by the judge, because our lawyers forgot to turn a couple things in and the judge just is like, nevermind, I’m canceling your divorce and we had to start all over.
Like it. It was a nightmare. So my advice is to get the hit bulliest lawyer, the expensive guy who is known in your area as being the very best because I actually spent less on my Pitbull lawyer in the six months it took him to get me divorced than I spent on my cheap lawyer for three years. And if I had hired him at the beginning, not only what I’ve been divorced sooner, I would have gotten a much better divorce those three and a half years and how they dragged on and what happened in the meantime, it caused everything to be lower for me. So yeah, higher the even if it’s going to be a nice divorce. hire the Pitbull from the beginning he can walk you through a nice kind divorce with a settlement or, but he will fight for you. And he did things for me that I was like, oh, but I want to be nice and he’s like, why you’re taking this so personally it’s not personal anymore and he really, he really helped me so much and i that is my big regret is that I didn’t just hire the Pitbull who was more expensive for the very beginning it would have saved me time money headache, and it would have been a much better outcome financially for me.
Hilary Erickson 4:29
Yeah, I think that’s really interesting because people think I’ll just save some cash. When in the end, it really didn’t work out for you know,
Ashlee Marie 4:35
you get what you pay for. Yeah, and I know that I buy really good dishwashers and refrigerators and yet I didn’t buy a good divorce lawyer so you know, yeah,
Hilary Erickson 4:45
you want the Bosch, the Bosch of divorce attorneys.
Ashlee Marie 4:48
the Bosch of Divorce Attorneys, 100%.
Hilary Erickson 4:52
This episode is sponsored. Just kidding. Alright, so what was the hardest hardest part of being a mom Through the divorce, hmm.
Ashlee Marie 5:03
It took so long.
But it’s hard to really pinpoint what the hardest part was obviously, what it did to the kids. For me in my divorce, I was no longer in love When we started the process. So none of it was super emotional and hard for me when it came to saying goodbye to bill. But watching, watching as my kids went through those emotions, because he’s still their dad, they still love him. And and so I made a decision early on to even though I don’t love him, or even like him very much at times. I made the decision that I loved my kids more than I didn’t like him. And so which I think is really, really important. And so when they were going through a hard time, or and they wanted to call him even though it was my weekend or if they wanted to see him even though it was my weekend. I just put them first and sometimes that can be really hard because I know what a jerk is.
No, but yeah, it, it was letting them love him and learning that that’s actually a good thing to let them love him and to encourage them, to love Him and to help them through any any pain or any disappointment they might have the hardest part of the divorce was what it did to the kids. And probably the one like the hardest moment was, we decided early on that the kids should all see counselors throughout the whole thing. We were seeing a divorce counselor, we wanted them to be seeing a counselor so they had a safe place to talk about their feelings. And it wasn’t necessarily one of us. We didn’t want to bring the divorce into the kid’s life anymore than we had to.
So we agreed that we wouldn’t answer any questions about the divorce when the kids asked unless we were at the counselors. So the I was with my daughter, my 12 year old my number four and the counselor called me back at the end of our session said Scarlett has some questions and and so she asked a couple questions about the divorce and I answered because they’re the case counselor could like, kind of be a buffer kind of explain things because, you know, again, we were trying to keep the kids out of the divorce as much as possible. And so she asked me a couple questions. I don’t even remember what they were. But none of them were huge. And then she asked me her final question, which was, will you and dad ever get remarried? And I said, Oh, honey, I’m, I’m so sorry. But, but no, we won’t. We both love you very much, but we won’t. So she’s like, Okay, I’m done asking you questions. I’m like, okay, so I stepped out of the door, but her session was over. So I just waited outside the door for her.
She had one more question for the counselor, she said, and I could hear her and she grabbed the magic eight ball from the counselor’s desk and said, Well, my mom and dad get remarried, and then flipped it over and I heard her little voices. She goes, yes, it’s possible or something like that. And it just broke my heart because it’s not possible and I know that but Yeah, that that just broke my heart. Yeah, but other than that, that was probably the the what it is the kids is the hardest part of divorce, of parenting to the divorce. Because you have to love them you have to let them love their dad. And you have to help them through this emotional landscape that you yourself don’t really know how to get through it times. You know, how do you continually break your daughter’s heart you know that that’s a hard way and yet still encourage them to be happy and be healthy and to believe in love and to believe in marriage and, and to believe in your family. So I don’t know that month was probably the hardest.
Hilary Erickson 8:39
Yeah, that is hard. I love I love how you said before though that you have to love them more than you don’t like him. So yes
Ashlee Marie 8:46
100% you should vinyl letter that that’s a project. I should put it on a frame with my divorce certificate.
Hilary Erickson 8:55
I love my kids more than I hate him so much. Yeah, I bet they’d sponsor that. I’ll ask. So what do you think helped the most parenting through the divorce? What do you
Ashlee Marie 9:07
100%, our divorce counselor, we actually started seeing her as we were in the process of deciding what we wanted to do her specialty used to be Asperger’s Funny enough, which is my ex husband has Asperger’s as do my kids. And then she switched a couple years ago, like 10 years ago to this new style of counseling. My cousin is a counselor. And so when Bill and I first separated, I call my cousin and just said that he’s a he’s a different kind of counselor, but I was called and said, What is your advice coming from this field? You know, who should I look for? Who should I find? And he recommended this new style of counseling called, it’s like, I liked it. It’s right on the tip of my tongue anyway, okay, if I remember it, maybe I’ll say it at the end. Is it discernment counseling, okay. It’s called discernment counseling. It’s for that in between stage When you are separated, but you don’t know if you want to get back together and then start seeing a marriage counselor, or if you want to get divorced then see a divorce counselor. She was our discernment counselor. And
Hilary Erickson 10:12
I’ve been your counselor a long time.
Ashlee Marie 10:16
Yeah. And so she kind of helped us in that in between stage of where are we really going. And the best part is because it’s not marriage counseling. She wasn’t ever trying to fix us or fix our marriage. And because it wasn’t divorce counseling, she wasn’t trying to get us through that aspect of it. She was really just trying to help us as we decided which path to go down. So she was great. And then when we did decide to go down the path of divorce, that she became our divorce counselor, and having her has 100% then the thing that helped the most with parenting because anytime we don’t agree, which let’s face it, we’re there’s a reason you’re getting divorced. There’s a lot of things you don’t agree on, and he wouldn’t agree. We’d go see her She would just be that third person in the room, we were able to talk to each other and talk these things out. And because even if she didn’t really help, just having another person there, kept both of us calmer, if that makes sense.
And she really kept us on track. And then as we did good things, she made us feel better about herself. Like, look what you guys did. You just got along, and you made that choice that was better than you. And so she encouraged us to continue that behavior. And that has 100% help we see her if once a quarter, unless we need to see her more and then we see her more often. And she’s even written into our divorce settlement. That because my ex didn’t want usually typically in the divorce, there’s the parents that the kid lived with more of the time and they get final say on any big decisions. And my ex being paranoid, didn’t want me to have final say because I thought I would have used that power and so we agreed that we have equal boat and If we can’t agree, then our our counselor has final, final, final vote. So, which works fine for me because I believe she likes me more than she likes him. I’m sure he believes she likes him more than he likes. She likes me So, so it works out. Well, that’s awesome. But yeah, 100% she has helped us get through all of our co parenting. And I think that’s the one thing that we do really, really well. is we 100% agree that the kids are most important that their emotional well being is most important. Even if we disagree on what that means, like we the goal is so the kids are happy and healthy. And we put them first above our own petty silliness.
Hilary Erickson 12:38
Now do the kids see her or they see somebody different? No, they see somebody different. She’s just for the kids see just a child counselor, or is there a special divorce counselor for children?
Ashlee Marie 12:50
No, there’s not especially the worst counselor as far as I know. They just see a typical child pediatric counselor, but we are we’re looking at getting somebody at this point. He specializes more in the Asperger side of our kids because for the divorce side of things of them other than my 112 year old daughter, they are doing just fine. Well, it’s good. Yeah, it is really a relief.
Hilary Erickson 13:13
And it’s health insurance pay for theirs or that’s all out of pocket. All this is out of pocket, right?
Ashlee Marie 13:18
No, actually my ex husband, when he had a job, his he had really good health insurance and it did help cover that. But to be fair, my kids with the additional diagnosis of Asperger’s, it’s pretty easy to get a lot of stuff covered. That’s true. If it was just they’re sad because their parents are divorced. I’m not sure if that would be covered or not. I think it depends on your insurance.
Hilary Erickson 13:38
Yeah, definitely. depends on your insurance. Mental health is all over the place, I think.
Ashlee Marie 13:43
Yeah. Currently, the lack of insurance Of course it that it’s out of pocket.
Hilary Erickson 13:48
Well, that’s what happens. But you don’t have to pay for insurance. So there’s no, that’s true.
Ashlee Marie 13:54
That’s true. Just cancer.
Hilary Erickson 13:57
Just don’t just don’t get it. Okay, probably that’ll How do you get adult time and a house full of kids?
Ashlee Marie 14:05
Well, at the beginning, my ex was living in Tennessee. So I had the kids 100% of the time, and he would come into town every two months. And he would take the kids for a couple weekends. So at the beginning, it was really me being mom all the time. And I didn’t get a lot of adult time. But honestly, all I have ever wanted in my life was to be a mom, so it didn’t really bother me too much. And the divorce was so new and I was trying to switch from my, my blog being a hobby that was just for joy and fun too. All of a sudden, I need to make money and support my family. It was it was so busy at that time that I don’t. There. There just wasn’t time to think about getting my own adult. Now that things have settled down a little bit and he is now living across the street which is a whole nother thing. And he has the kids half the time. I have the kids at the time now. I get plenty of have adult time. But now I realize how lonely I am. So it’s almost harder. I almost liked it better when I was surrounded by the kids all the time. Because now all of a sudden there’s I’m facing that I needed all time. I need non lonely time. I need to take care of myself emotionally. And I don’t know how. Because it’s been 20 years since I dated and, and all my friends and family, my sisters and my my close friends. They’re all married with kids and they don’t get every other weekend off. So yeah, I mean it now I get plenty of adult time because of that. But I don’t know what to do with that.
Hilary Erickson 15:36
Yeah, it’s a rough transition.
Ashlee Marie 15:38
It is, especially since you’re it’s the loneliness that really gets to you. Because even when I’m not alone, even when the kids are around, I’m still lonely because my kids are not my friends, if that makes sense. Like I don’t want to put my kids in the position of trying to comfort me or be there for me like that is not their job. I am there for them and the mom and so I’m even when I’m surrounded by the kids, it’s still very lonely and that Probably the hardest part of it all, I had a friend who lost her husband, and she got remarried very quickly. And people were really judgmental about that. And this was right at the beginning of my divorce as this happened. And I remember as people were talking about it, and judging that decision, I was like, I 100% get it. I would love to have a partner, and another adult as I’m growing through my divorce. And it’s not that I want wanted to be married I it’s just that that partnership and someone to talk to and, and just someone to bounce things off of, and just understand and listen, that is missing from my life. And that can be that can be hard.
But at the same time, I know through being married a divorce, that I don’t want to just jump into any old marriage just for the sake of not being lonely. So there’s that balance in my mind of looking for best friend and partner and companion and yet, not wanting to make mistakes that are made before or fall into something will happen before. I mean, there’s a reason that People who get divorced once tend to get divorced multiple times, right? It’s, it’s once you know how easy it is to get rid of. So it becomes easy to be that fallback. And I don’t want that either. So I don’t know. It’s a hard conundrum that I haven’t quite figured it out for myself. The good news is your kids are also getting older though, right? They are. My oldest is in college, and she’s an adult. And so it’s a different it’s a different Parent Child balance at this time, but my youngest is eight so I still got 10 more years with them. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I don’t know. It’s it’s hard. Luckily for me, because of my work as a blogger and YouTuber, I do have conferences to attend or nights out, or I do have local friends who like to get together with and so I, I’ve been finding activities, but it’s just still not the same. It’s still just a different change. And I get that it’s a time of the season and it’s not gonna last forever. But it is a weird stage to be at.
Hilary Erickson 17:58
Yeah, well, and now things are more fun. All because you were just up in the air for so long. Now it’s like, you’re ready to move on and how to Yes. What do you want to move on to? Right? What does that look like? Yeah, or who do you want to move?
Ashlee Marie 18:12
Do I want to be married? Do I want to date or do I, you know, not believe in it anymore. Anyway, so for me, I do believe in marriage and I do believe in love and companionship and, and you do want to find that but that’s balanced with not wanting to rush into it. My first my first marriage. We got married nine weeks after we met. So looking back, but my best decision, but But yeah, I don’t know. Wait, we’ll see. It’s it’s constantly it’s something that I constantly kind of try to balance, not letting the loneliness and that need for companionship, overwhelm. I need to be smart about that companionship.
Hilary Erickson 18:51
Yeah, that’s rough. All right. Any tips for co parenting during a divorce or after the divorce?
Ashlee Marie 18:57
First of all, get yourself a good counselor. And not a marriage counselor, like find a counselor who understands what it is you’re looking for. If you don’t want somebody at one point, we were at our counselors and my ex brought in a book that he thought would help me. And he even said, you just change everything about you. We could work it out. If he brought this book that he thought would help, and she just stopped him. I didn’t even have to say anything. She stopped him and said, that is not what this is, you know, and she just really reminded him what we were doing there and what we were looking for. And so having that other person there, that could be that voice sticking up for me and sticking it for him if he did it if I said something that I shouldn’t, and really understanding about what we were doing, what the divorce was, and bringing us kind of back to that focusing on the kids and the CO parenting versus fighting each other. That is the definitely the first thing that I would tell you to do. To help with CO parenting. It is amazing how much that keeps you because when I get angry now about something that he does parenting wise, I write it down on a note in my phone, I keep a whole section of stupid parenting stuff.
Has, and I just save it and I take it to our counselor and then we talk it all out there. That 100% would be the number one tip I would give people I get that it’s expensive. She is not covered by my insurance and never has been, we’ve always paid out of pocket for her. And it’s definitely worth it. It has saved us so much yelling and argument. My other piece of advice would be advice that I give to anybody upset about something, and that is wait 24 hours don’t immediately respond there, your co parent is going to do stupid stuff and stuff you disagree with and unless it’s harming your children, you got to let it go as much as possible. So wait at least 24 hours so you’re not in the middle of that emotion before you send an email or send a text or, or respond in some way. The other piece of advice is don’t talk on the phone at all keep everything to something that can be recorded.
We only talk through text and email so that I have a record of everything and he has record everything as well. And when you know that the other person is going to be key Your record, it also helps you kind of think through what you’re going to say. We almost never talk on the phone or in person when we trade the kids unless it’s super minor things. So So yeah, so that if something does happen that I do need to talk to my lawyer or my counselor about, I have it right there. And it’s not hearsay, because it’s right there, black and white. But yeah, keeping things calm, and we’re putting your kids first and remembering, remembering that you love them more than you hate him. Right? Is is the thing that will get you through because, oh, my and I kind of learned to have a sense of humor about it. Because guess what, you’re not married to him anymore.
And you don’t have to deal with his ex wife or girlfriend has to deal with that. I can just be like, I can just roll my eyes and be like, oh, Bill, that’s just that’s just so well, and leave it the only thing that you really, really want to do more than that with is if one of my kids is getting hurt. Like at one point bill made a stupid decision and my son almost got run over by a car. That obviously was a little bit more I called my lawyer, you know, I got him involved and stuff like that. So, but again, I didn’t get angry at Bill, I didn’t know that I call my lawyer I called the counselor we got together immediately. And I let my lawyer kind of deal with the legal ramifications of what had happened. And I let our counselor helped me through the rest of the ramifications. And it kept us from getting to that point that we hate each other so much that we do. We know somehow put ourselves first instead of our kids. You know, we both of us, thankfully, as stupid as I feel he is. I really don’t like him very much. But the one thing we have both done well is putting our kids first and I appreciate that so much. And I think part of that has been me staying calm, and it’s helped him stay calm, too.
Hilary Erickson 22:43
Yeah, I like that staying calm. That’s probably good advice for everyone. Yeah, yes. All right. Thanks so much, Ashlee. I think people learned a lot from this one.
Ashlee Marie 22:51
Hilary Erickson 22:52
Okay, guys, I hope none of you are going through that at this time. But I am realistic to understand that many of you have gone through it are going to Are co parenting at this time. And so I hope that information was helpful for me. I think I mostly learned that I should not be afraid to turn to a counselor when things are getting tough. I tend to be the kind that’s like, Oh, we can just muscle through this but I’m really glad that Ashlee got the help that she wanted. And I think using a counselor can be so helpful in situations like this big thanks to Ashlee for coming on. This isn’t her usual thing but I was so grateful that she was willing to talk about it. A lot of people kind of keep this type of thing Hush Hush. I will have all of her links in the show notes. She is a real making cake. She’s real talking about divorce. I just love that about Ashlee. Big thanks to our sponsor family routines. If you are interested in getting in a routine with your family, no matter what your situation is, it can be the thing that helps you out. If you like today’s episode, we’d love it if you would share, subscribe and review. It really makes a difference. We drop an episode every Monday and until then I hope you have a tangle free day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai