You are your children’s barometer. If you are not okay, they are not okay. It is normal not to be okay at the beginning. It’s important that you are honest with them and that you explain that you are going through a difficult time, but are working on feeling better. The healthier that you become, the better they will feel. They will get better by osmosis.
Your work is to clean up the trauma and to evolve as a self-respecting person. There is a reason that you have been in this relationship and it is time to figure it out. You will have time to work on this while they are spending time with your ex. Consider therapy, yoga, meditation and narcissistic abuse recovery programs. The work sheets provided will also help you.
When your children return from a visit with your ex, give them time to decompress and re-acclimatize to your environment. Surround them with unconditional love and space. Think peaceful thoughts. Your thoughts directly affect how you show up for them.
Do not pepper them with questions. If they would like to speak to you about their experience with your ex, please listen to them and validate their feelings without imposing your own. Encourage them to journal. They can have a special book just for their thoughts after access visits. Once you are away from them, note the interchange on the access spreadsheet.
Even if your children are upset, this does not give them a licence to be abusive towards you. This may have been a pattern of behaviour that was demonstrated for years by your ex. It must now be unacceptable in your house and you need to be firm with these boundaries. Abuse does not live here anymore!
You may choose to have your children see a therapist during this transition. Make sure to choose someone who can represent your children’s views and preferences in court or with an affidavit. That means they must be a qualified psychologist with an immaculate reputation. Preferably, the therapist should be respected in the field of children and high-conflict divorce and be approved by your ex.