It’s safe to say that the world has changed over the last several weeks. Nearly every state in the country has some sort of “stay-in-place” order—schools are closed, businesses are closed, and people are taking extra precautions to stay healthy and safe.
However, parenting is never put on hold.
If you’re divorced and have a parenting arrangement, you probably know that most jurisdictions in the country have said that all parenting time orders still need to be enforced.
Now more than ever it’s important to be strong for your children, and to ensure them they will be safe and their lives won’t change too much. But, how can you effectively co-parent during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Let’s look at a few strategies you and your co-parent can use.
1. Keep Communication Strong
Communication should always be a priority in co-parenting. But now, more than ever, it’s essential to keep things as orderly as possible for your children.
Talk to your co-parent about the needs of your kids and how they might change because of this pandemic. If you’re doing online schoolwork, it’s important that the other parent knows what’s going on and how they can help. And if your children are worried or scared, talk about how you can soothe those fears as parents.
2. Follow Your Parenting Plan
Children need routine, and they value consistency. So keep your parenting plan as close to normal as possible during this time. Doing so will help to alleviate stress for both you and your co-parent, as well as your kids. It’s the easiest way to avoid any additional confusion and distress.
Talk to your co-parent about how you want to approach this situation and how you’re going to tell your children about it. You should both be on the same page whenever possible so you can continue with your parenting plan smoothly.
3. Be Flexible with Making Other Arrangements
These obviously aren’t normal circumstances. While there is no specific “end date” for this pandemic, it’s important to think about the present. Maybe one of you has to work from home now, and your schedule has changed. Or maybe you don’t want to exchange the children as frequently to cut down on potential exposures.
If there was ever a time to talk things out and be flexible, it’s now. While having a standard parenting plan in place is important, you should also allow yourselves the space to make other arrangements you can both agree on. What’s important is putting the children first, no matter what. If that means you occasionally have to deviate from your traditional co-parenting schedules, be ready to be flexible.
4. Support Your Co-Parent’s Relationship With Your Kids
Again, it’s normal for your kids to feel uncertain during these times—we all do! So they’ll need the guidance and comfort of both parents to assure them that everything will be fine.
Though things may need to change and you both may need to adapt, you should still encourage and support a positive relationship between your children and your co-parent. Now isn’t the time to let custody or parenting time issues get in the way. Let your kids know that both you and their other parent are there for them, no matter what.
This time of uncertainty is stressful enough on its own. You don’t have to let co-parenting be another added stress. Don’t be afraid to talk things over with your co-parent and be flexible with each other. In doing so, you’ll create the best possible situation for your kids as you continue parenting together.
If you’re going through a divorce, curious about, “the next steps,” or you need help re-establishing your sense of self, please contact the San Diego Divorce Counseling Center at www.DivorceCounselingCenter.com and click the Book Online button, or call us at 619-865-3203, to set up an appointment.