I’m lucky in that my ex-husband and I parted ways before our resentment and differences blossomed into not being able to stand each other. We’ve always parented well together but being divorced always brings new sets of challenges when it comes to kids’ schedules and the rules you each allow in your home and we ‘ve struggled though our share.
I had no idea when schools were closed for a few weeks in March, that we’d be where we are today: no more school for the remainder of the year, no camps, no going out to eat, seeing a movie, or letting my kids see their friends.
While my ex and I certainly aren’t perfect, we decided to get on the same page about how we were going to deal with this pandemic whether we wanted to or not for one reason: our children.
The state of the world is fragile now and it certainly doesn’t care about us and our differences; it’s so much bigger than that. In order to parent effectively through this, we had to put them aside. How can we expect our children to get that if we are going to be fighting through this?
First, things look bleak enough and if there’s something co-parents need addressed because they feel their ex may be putting their kids at risk, it can be handled by a lawyer as many of them are doing virtual sessions right now.
But for me and my kids’ father, we wanted their life to remain as normal as possible since there were so many unknown and so many things that were taken away from them.
We have kept the custody schedule the same because we believe our kids’ routine is important. But we’ve also agreed to be flexible with each other– he’s been working from home more and has asked if he can spend extra time with the kids on those days.
Since it’s not something he can do normally, and I do get to see them more overall, I agreed. Of course I miss them but again, this isn’t about me. Our kids have enjoyed being over there a little more because they literally can’t go anywhere else and the change of scenery is good for their mental health.
This has all been incredibly stressful so instead of feeling sad about my kids being gone, I’ve taken the extra time alone to rest, relax, and talk on the phone with my friends– things I never really had the extra time to do.
It’s not always fun or easy, but take it from me– communication goes a long way during a situation like this. If it’s too hard to talk face to face or on the phone, texting is a great option. It’s helped us work out the kinks, like when I thought the kids were being exposed to too much news in his house, or when he thought I was taking them out for fast food too much.
These are normal things we would have contacted each other about, but this situation is sensitive and different and we both put our egos aside and realised that (even if it took a while).
Being a single parent is hard during normal circumstances. Co-parenting isn’t easy either. Navigating our way through this is new to us all and there isn’t an instruction manual. Emotions are running high and things can get heated for sure.
I realise it’s easier said than done but coming from someone whose been there, trust me when I say if you are able to remember the fact you are both the parents and your family’s health is the most important thing, it can help cut through the drama and help you both stick to your job at hand: doing what’s best for your children.
You aren’t married any longer and you certainly aren’t going to parent your children the same, but when we are dealing with a pandemic which keeps us cooped up, and our kids are feeling the effects just as we are, it’s so important to talk to each other.
The last thing we need right now is to complicate life more and if you are able to work as a team you are going to have less clutter in your head, and your kids will definitely notice and be better off for it.
That in itself is reason enough to try to co-parent through this as best as you can.