I’m sure that I am not the only person stuck in pandemic co-parenting! Under normal circumstances, co-parenting is a challenge undertaken by divorced parents who take on the care and wellness of children for whom they share responsibility by working together. The goal is all about preserving and building essential relationships. It is not easy! It requires a huge amount of patience, flexibility, and cooperation.
So what is best for a child in a pandemic in regards to custody, changing houses, safety, and changing plans?
Here are some things to think about:
1. Stay at Home!
But which home?
It might be time to loosen up your strict shared custody schedule. Moving the kids between two houses exposes them to more germs and more people. And, can result in both parents and all the kids getting exposed or infected. Ideally, the children would stay in the same house and only the residents of that house would be allowed into that house.
If you live in the same city, consider making an alternative custody plan. Maybe 14-21 days at Dad’s house. If everyone stays home and remains well, move kids to mom’s house for 14-21 days if that is practical. Consult your pediatrician for the exact, up to date information about quarantine restrictions and advice.
If you decide to adjust physical custody, make plans to include the non-custodial parent. Use FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, texts, and calls to keep checked in. During communication, let the kids know this is a temporary situation. Provide extra listening and emotional support!
If you are the parent that does not have physical custody at this time, consider adjusting your financial support. When kids are home for three meals a day and snacks- they eat a lot more food! The grocery bills are skyrocketing at my house. I have two teen boys. If you can contribute extra funds to support your children, your co-parent will be very grateful.
Consider sending the ideas, activities, or even small gifts to keep them busy.
Puzzles, board games, movies, cards, or books are great ways to spend calm inside time with the family. The kids need to stay busy and know that you are thinking of them.
Indoor basketball hoops are not the best gift idea to send to mom's house! Hint, hint!
Drum sets, bongos, or any other noise-making instruments are not appreciated by this mom! Surprise Uber eats delivery, Dominoes pizza delivery, or a snack care package are always welcome at my house. 🙏
5. Quality Virtual Time
Plan a ZOOM dinner with Dad. If mom has the kids for an extended period, try planning a virtual dinner with dad once or twice a week is a great way to stay connected. Mom can go for a walk with the dog, and dad can catch up with the kids in private.
6. Make Future Plans
Make plans to help out with custody as soon as the travel restrictions and stay home orders are over. Offer to take the kids for three weeks in the summer, or every weekend for two months! The parent who is at home with all the kids may need a break! And, a break is something to look forward to and plan. We all need a light at the end of the Corona Tunnel.
7. Just Ask!
Ask the parent who has custody during this stressful and challenging time how you can help.
What can I do to help you take care of our kids and reduce your anxiety?
There may be a range of needs that require assistance, including lost wages, mental health issues, insurance problems, and special health needs. Volunteer to help out and keep track of your expenses by using this great new app called ENSEMBLE.
I have been dealing with the challenges of co-parenting for many years. Recently, I have had the pleasure of serving as a consultant for a wonderful new app for divorced parents who co-parent. This app makes it easy for parents to keep track of expenses, split expenses, create reports, save, and communicate in a friendly way about the financial issues of the family. During the Pandemic, this easy to use, free app is helping me stay organized amidst the chaos. To find out more about the co-parenting app check it out at ENSEMBLE APP!
The Pandemic is providing a unique opportunity for divorced families to work together for the health and wellness of the entire family. These suggestions are an excellent way to build the family up and rally the troops by supporting each other with increased flexibility, understanding, and kindness.