Ahhh, life during a pandemic. The coronavirus has really shaken up our world. Just when we start to adjust to this new “normal,” something else comes up and we have to adjust again. With all these changes, it’s no wonder parents are a bit anxious (justifiably so!). For parents who are co-parenting their children with former partners, COVID-19 concerns add another layer of complexity.
While parents everywhere have stepped up to the plate to handle all coronavirus has thrown their way, the following tips can help parents stay sane(ish) as they navigate co-parenting in a pandemic.
Renegotiating Your Co-Parenting Plan
Co-parenting is tricky — pandemic or not. You and your ex may previously have had a solid co-parenting plan, but if you deal with the coronavirus crisis differently, the two of you may want to revise your current custody or parenting plan. It’s okay if that happens. This is a crazy time for everyone.
A few ideas to think about when revising or modifying your co-parenting plan to address the unique challenges co-parents are facing in the pandemic:
- Set shared household guidelines for hygiene and activities.
- Create an alternate COVID-19 parenting time schedule and be clear about when the normal schedule will resume.
- Guarantee virtual and/or make-up parenting time.
- Have a plan if a parent or child tests positive for COVID-19.
Working together with your co-parent to answer these questions helps you get on the same page. That promotes a sense of stability and balance that your kids desperately need in this wonky world.
Need more co-parenting tips?
Check out the full list of 10 New Terms to Include in Your Co-Parenting Agreement as a Result of COVID-19!
Communication Is King
While revising your parenting plan is the goal, sometimes you just might not see eye to eye with your ex. You may have totally different views of the risks associated with the virus. So, what do you do?
Start a conversation, setting forth the pros and cons of each revision you’d like to make to your co-parenting plan. Create an open line of communication (sometimes email is best) and try to remain judgment free (it’s hard, we know!), as everyone processes these situations differently. Understand you may not be able to persuade him or her to see your side, but try to remain positive and highlight how these choices are in the best interest of your kids.
And if that doesn’t work? You might consider working with a family therapist or mediator who can help the two of you understand what might be getting in the way of a co-parenting agreement.
It’s widely known that kids tend to do better with a schedule and a routine. With so much transition and change in day-to-day life already happening, it’s important for kids to have a reliable schedule.
Try making a schedule that also gives yourself freedom to be creative. Incorporate different activities throughout the day — creative tasks, physical activity or virtual playdates. Mixing up the day not only increases your chances of keeping kids engaged, it supports their overall well-being and education. Bonus: you are also creating opportunities for meaningful connections!
And, if things don’t go according to plan? Be flexible, take charge and go with it. Make the most of the experience and focus on connecting with your kid.
Take Good Care of You
While you’re focusing most of your time and attention on your kids’ needs, don’t forget to practice a little self-care. It is exhausting to always be the rock for your children. Although you may feel depleted, it is crucial to your mental and emotional well-being to carve out some time for yourself each day. It’ll probably make you a better parent (and co-parent).
Looking for a self-care plan you’ll actually follow? Check out this worksheet!
Finally, remember that this is only temporary. The pandemic will eventually end — embrace the messiness for all it’s worth.
Erin Levine is the CEO and Founder of Hello Divorce, an award winning online platform that offers Coloradans an easier, cheaper and less stressful divorce option.
Her mission is to change the conversation around divorce — making the process transparent and the experience empowering, so you are set up for a positive co-parenting relationship and a happier, healthier, next chapter.