During this pandemic, countless parents are under pressure, with children at home, without daycare, school, freedom, lessons, other activities and not seeing friends and relatives. Not easy. If you are on the verge of divorce or living apart or already divorced, family life can be even more complicated and difficult. But, it is doable! First, be healthy and well informed.
Co-parenting during Covid requires thoughtfulness, patience and flexibility…for couples with children of all ages. Since court systems are presently available for essential cases only, you are on your own to work through things with your co- parent. Talk about the realities of each home and which parent might best accommodate various needs of the children. Remember, it would not be permanent. Shifting to a summer schedule, if possible, might it easier on all for some households.
Communication is key to provide the best environment for your children to feel safe and connected to you both. Keep your co-parent honestly informed about what’s happening in your home. Are you still employed? If your income has been affected, and you pay alimony, etc., give reasonable notice and explanation. If you are the receiver of funds, make him/her aware of your efforts to make things work with hardship. Discuss how you each feel about your new situation and try to establish ways to cope with the challenges. Create a plan if either of you – or the children – become ill. Be careful with grandparents as they are more vulnerable. Try to choose back-ups you are both comfortable with if there is a need for them to step in quickly and safely.
In this topsy-turvy world, it is crucial to have two calm, steady and predictable parents. Structure, routine and continuity in both homes offer grounding to your children. . Protect them from listening to the news but be available to listen to their concerns. Offer age-appropriate explanations. Be clear, with each other and the children, about new ‘rules’ and some new, but temporary, exceptions. Yes, they are going to miss friends and activities and want and need more screen time. It’s okay…for now. Be creative and encourage connection with the other parent, via phone, facetime, zoom, to talk, play games, read books together.
Enjoy your progeny but find ways to treat yourself – conversations with loved ones and friends, a luxurious bath or special book when you can create a quiet time. As you remind your children, remember this is not forever and the gains you make with the other parent can last longer than the pandemic.