Divorce

After Divorce, I Became The 'Best Dad And The Best Me I Could Be'

This dad's weekly ritual with his sons is super sweet -- and sans smartphones!
Divorced dad Bill Douglas prioritized time with his two boys when his marriage ended in 2009. 
Divorced dad Bill Douglas prioritized time with his two boys when his marriage ended in 2009. 

If there’s ever a time you need a little distraction in your life, it’s during the divorce process. That’s why we launched our Divorce Care Package series. With each post, we’ll show you what things — books, movies, recipes — helped others relieve stress in the midst of divorce, in the hopes that a few of their picks will serve you well too. Want to share what got you through your divorce? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com.

After his divorce in 2009, business coach and speaker Bill Douglas decided it was time to take his own needs off the back burner: That meant getting healthy, prioritizing his relationship with his sons and keeping his overall outlook on life as positive as possible.

Below, Douglas, who was married for 17 years, shares a handful of activities and hobbies that helped him get back on track post-split.

The Weekly Ritual
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"My two sons -- then 11 and 14 -- started a new tradition with me: Monday dine-around. Every Monday we'd go to a new restaurant, and each week we took turns choosing. There were three rules: It had to be something we'd never been to before; you had to eat from the menu at whatever restaurant was chosen, without complaining; and no phones. What started out as dad's desire to get a night off from the kitchen turned into a weekly 'Douglas men' activity. We found all sorts of restaurants: some good, some great, some not-so-great. After a while it took some planning when it was your week to choose. I remember the boys searching the Internet days in advance, talking about what was planned for the dine-around this week. You'd be amazed how many different types of food you can find! The biggest takeaway was the time together without distractions. Good times, very good times."
The Quote
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"I was quoted saying 'life is a gift' after surviving a near death experience due to a coral snake bite.My comment from the interview stuck with me as I read the article. It became my mantra. I tried to always appreciate the gift of relationships. Relationships with family, friends, kids, co-workers, anyone for that matter, are what life is all about. I answered 'yes!' to nearly every invitation, which took me to wonderful places, lead to me bonding with amazing people doing incredible things."
The Hobby
Photo Courtesy Of Bill Douglas
"On the day that I filed for divorce, I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and joined a country club all within three hours. It was time to take care of me! A year later I was in very good shape, had played many rounds of golf and had many new friends from both clubs. The new fitness habits, hobbies and friends fed my desire to grow in every aspect of my life. As you can see, that growth was transformational!"
The Book
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"The Power of Lessby Leo Babauta. I was left with a house full of 'stuff' post-divorce. Besides the draining memories that stuff held, it became daunting just to walk into such a cluttered house. This book helped me not only tackle the cluttered house, but tackle my cluttered life and free myself to grow again: it taught me to identify the essential and eliminate the unnecessary. I broke down goals into manageable tasks. I created new and productive habits. I streamlined my business life, which created more time and space for me to be the best dad and the best me that I could be."
The Splurge
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"After divorce, I transformed my house into a teenager's dream. My sons and I setup a trampoline in the spare bedroom of the house. Yes, inside the house! The boys loved it and their friends thought we were nuts. I traded the dining room table for a pool table. We set up a bike park in the backyard and lit it up for night riding. There were foosball and air hockey tables upstairs. We did fireworks on 4th of July and New Year's Eve. I wanted more time with my sons after divorce so mission accomplished!"
The Distraction
Photo of Bill Douglas
"Giving back became a passion and travel became my distraction. During the first two years post-divorce I traveled to Napa, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Caribbean and took several US trips with my sons to events such as the Formula 1 in Austin and Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale. But 'the big one' that truly changed my life was combining these two and volunteering in Haiti after the massive earthquake. My oldest son, then 16, wanted to go with our group but he wasn't allowed for safety and security reasons. I came back a different man. Working with the Haitians, who had absolutely nothing after the quake but were amazingly happy, was uplifting. Working in a children's orthopedic unit was far, far outside my comfort zone and quite challenging. Living on the bare necessities was humbling. This pic is one of my all time favorites: playing 'helicopter' with some of the kids. I returned from 10 days in Haiti more grateful than ever -- grateful for my sons, my health, my country, my life."
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