Co-parenting post-divorce is complicated and it can take time to develop a functioning system. It becomes even more difficult when additional factors are thrown into the mix and disrupt the system that you and your co-parent have developed. There is no doubt that the presence of the coronavirus pandemic will alter the way that you co-parent. Here are some tips on how to be successful co-parents while dealing with the pandemic.
Stick with the routine where you can. The pandemic has created obstacles that will force you to make adjustments to the developed parenting plan you have. However, it is vital to keep consistency in the places that you can. Children need routines in order to help them function. Even small things that can be kept consistent will help them remain calm and make a situation more predictable. You can keep engaging in similar activities with your child as you have in the past. If your child’s school is closed for the foreseeable future, it is possible to still incorporate academics into their day. School subjects can be integrated into their daily routine with familiar activities such as reading their favorite books, practicing their favorite school subject with writing or math exercises, or even at home science experiments. Also, coordinate with your children’s teachers as many are sending excellent resources for you to do at home.
Accept that you may have to interact with your co-parent more than usual. Communication really is key in a successful co-parenting relationship. Now, communicating with your co-parent is more important than ever. While communication can cause conflict, tools such as Our Family Wizard and Google Calendar can help increase communication while also keeping it civil. While schools or other pickup and drop off spots allowed exchanges to happen without seeing your co-parent, that may no longer be an option. Face-to-face drop offs and pick ups can be a source of conflict, so minimize all unnecessary interaction when you exchange your child. Try to keep these communications as short and efficient as possible. Do your best to be as responsive, understanding and civil as possible as you communicate and interact with the co-parent.
Be flexible. Parenting schedules are not set in stone and often have to change when circumstances become different. As always in life, things come up that require changes to be made. Despite the efficiency it may have had before, there will have to be adjustments to the parenting system. It is important to be flexible and work with your co-parent in order to keep things running smoothly for your children. If you are uncomfortable with the current custody agreement due to the pandemic, openly communicate that with your co-parent and attempt to come to a temporary agreement. Make sure you know which battles are important for you to fight, and which battles you are able to concede. It is important to not get caught up in arguments, as they are not helpful to your children and will cause unnecessary stress for you. At the end of the day, both parents will have to be accomodating and work together in order to continue functioning.
Accept help. During the practice of social distancing, children will see a decrease in their typical events. Extra-curricular activities, playdates, school, and sports are all aspects of a child’s life that will be influenced by the coronavirus. Despite changes to your child’s schedule, you may still have to work. This can create issues if you are unable to watch your child during certain times. Accepting help from your co-parent or other third parties will be extremely beneficial to you and your child. This will decrease your stress levels and allow for your day to day life to remain as uninterrupted as possible. While it may be difficult, putting personal issues aside and welcoming help from a step-parent or extended family may be unavoidable in order to act in the best interest of your child.