How to co-parent successfully during lockdown
Apr 08, 2020
Co-parenting can present enough of a challenge at the best of times, but during the Coronavirus lockdown – it’s causing no end of issues for some separated families.
The Government tells us that children under the age of 18 can be moved between parents’ homes, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they must.
As a parent, you will naturally have concerns about the spread of infection to yourself, your children and others when sharing time with your children. And if your separation was an acrimonious one, having to deal with your ex about such an emotive subject, which you may not agree on, can be an absolute emotional minefield.
Every family and every situation will be different, but whether you have an informal arrangement, or one ordered by court – here are five steps to successfully co-parenting during lockdown.
- Talk - openly, honestly and calmly. Easier said than done when your children are involved and we’re in the midst of a pandemic! But as much as possible, try not to bring up any past issues, keep it business-like and control any emotional outbursts. Explain your worries and relay it to the other party as openly as you can and allow them the opportunity to put your mind at rest. Don’t be tempted to use the crisis as a way of preventing contact. But most of all, keep your children at the heart of any discussion and decision you make. Ask yourself what is safest and best for the child during this unprecedented time.
- Compromise – You think your child should stay with you, but the other parent wants to change contact arrangements during this time, for example a ‘week on week off’ – which is not something you’ve ever done before. Can you meet in the middle – literally and metaphorically if needed?! What would help your child feel most stable, adjusted and safe? If they are old enough, ask them what they would like to happen. It’s only through a series of honest conversations will you reach a solution that is manageable for everyone. And don’t forget, if you do have a Child Arrangement Order in place which you deviate from temporarily, always put something in writing to confirm this.
- Breathe – Chances are, when your child leaves you to spend time with their other parent, you’ll be home alone with only your worry to keep you company. Spend this time concentrating on you. This is your time to rest, work, watch films, tidy the house and truly relax. Carve this time out for you and the things you can’t do when your child is home with you all day. Recharge so that you can be fun, happy and relaxed when they come home. As a parent, you need to be on top of your game so that you are strong enough to guide them through this lockdown unscathed.
- Keep it light - If however, you’ve agreed that indirect contact is right for you as a family, and your separation is still quite raw and emotional – allowing that person ‘into your home’ and your space on a daily basis could be hard for you. If you need to be present during a Facetime conversation or telephone call, try to be upbeat, positive and encouraging. You’re doing this for your child, and they will thank you for it. Don’t make your child feel torn or awkward when speaking to their mum or dad.
- Come together - Is it at all possible that you can turn this global crisis into a positive outcome for your family? Hear me out! Yes, you have disagreements and varying emotions depending on the time of day! On a serious note, there may have been some abuse on an emotional or even physical level. And so, it’s understandable that making decisions about your children is going to be difficult. It may even seem impossible at the moment. But can you come together, help and support each other – whatever that looks like…a bag of groceries delivered when needed, some reassurance about how time will be spent at the other parent’s home or a simple “you’re doing a good job – thank you”. The world is a pretty scary place at the moment, and no matter what your reason for separating, you are and always will be connected in some way. Can you find a way to strengthen that bond? And if you do, how good would that feel – for you and your child?
With little advice or information about this subject available, and with courts and mediation services offering only a limited service, my hope is that you have found this is a helpful read and can use it as a foundation for co-parenting and dealing with any conflict at this time.
If you are struggling with any aspect of your breakup, including dealing with your ex and co-parenting and would benefit from personal and professional help from me.
Email me today at [email protected] and together we can start to help you move on from your breakup and create a future that you can look forward to. You don’t have to do this alone.
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