It is one major challenge to keep up with your work and go through a divorce. Keeping your personal life separate from your work life is always a good rule of thumb, but a divorce is a major event:
Coming to work and acting like everything is just ducky is very hard, especially if you’re finalizing your divorce, altering your work hours to change with your custody schedule or unable to work the same way you used to because you’re a single parent. But hey—you need your income, so managing your divorce and keeping it as separate as you can from the workplace will help you keep your job and sanity. Here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” of dealing with your divorce at work. You can learn from some of my mistakes—and some of the things I did right!
When you vent about your divorce to everyone, it becomes sort of an addicting need for your coworkers. They want to “tune in” to your drama. They’re not necessarily seeing it the same way your friends or family would…it’s sort of entertaining. And, your coworker or boss could use your venting against you in the case of a promotion. Perhaps your boss might feel you’re not able to handle a promotion or, a coworker might complain you’re “unhinged” and use your downfall to his or her favor.
If you really need to and are very close with one of your coworkers, let out some steam when necessary, but be cautious. Keep the juicier or more dramatic details silent, and don’t make it an everyday b*tch session. The occasional vent will help you from becoming completely unhinged and keeping the information with one person means if it leaks, you know where it came from.
If it’s an emergency, step aside and take that call, but…
Lawyers work traditional hours like you do (mostly), which means getting calls during the workday. If you can help it, take them during your lunch so you’re not completely frazzled while trying to work.
Keep the juicier or more dramatic details silent, and don’t make it an everyday b*tch session.
Spot out a place where you can take calls and cry or whatever you have to, without your coworkers eavesdropping to catch the drama show.
Your boss needs to know nothing other than if you have to switch your hours due to custody, change your schedule due to custody or skip out early or miss work due to court.
Don’t give your boss details. Period. You don’t want this person getting ideas you can’t handle the job and being fired…now is not the time to lose your job.
If he or she asks questions, keep it simple, like:
-Yes, it’s an amicable situation and I’ll be in court and back the next day. I can do work from home (if applicable)
-No, the situation is a tad complicated (don’t say ugly!) and I may have a few court sessions.
The less you say, the better. Just the basics that could affect your work hours and attendance.
No, no, no… unless it’s about the kids.
In fact, make a rule with your ex—even if you have to in writing. Something like the following:
“During the workday, please only contact me for child-related issues. For all other matters pertaining to the divorce, please save it for after the workday so we can both focus.”
You could really get caught in a black hole if the two of you sit and go tit for tat during the workday. It could distract you and upset you to a point in which you cannot focus.
You may need PTO for issues with the kids or the divorce, especially if you’re splitting custody and your childcare needs change with the divorce.
Either way, do take a mental health day or two to try and blow off steam. It’s very difficult to undergo a divorce.
You may find that your career and job will be a good place to focus your energy on as you go through the divorce. Treat it like it’s a whole other world in which the divorce doesn’t exist. Making new goals for yourself at work can be really inspiring, positive and helpful as you deal with the divorce process and the divorce itself.
It’s not easy to divorce, and so many people’s work lives or work status are greatly impacted by divorce. Just try to keep your cool and keep your meltdowns and low points on that drive to and from work—and not in the big weekly meeting!
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