10 things you need to know about co-parenting during COVID-19

By Cheryl Duffy

This pandemic is challenging for all fam-bams, as we get used to our new norm. But broken families have an added layer of difficulty and some are struggling with the juggle of following social distancing rules while still having contact with their baes.

1 // Stay healthy

Make sure you and your ex follow the same guidelines – consistent messaging across both households is best for your kids.

2 // Be present

It’s important to remember that children are not necessarily able to process this new norm in a way that allows them to have peace of mind. Let’s be real, it’s a weird AF situ for all of us. That’s why we need to make sure we’re there for our littles and paying attention to their needs.

3 // Play by the rules

You must still meet your obligations under any current court order or parenting plan, unless you have a reasonable excuse. However, many parents are using the crisis as an op to flout their obligations, which is a big NO. If you anticipate a change, you must give the other parent plenty of notice and a full explanation in writing.

4 // Adapt

Schools may be closed in your state, or you may have chosen to keep your kids at home, even if your school remains open. So you should start planning now, for alternative changeover arrangements once they go back to school, where social distancing practices can still be maintained.

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5 // Be open

If your child starts to show symptoms, you have to share this info immediately with the other parent and an agreed response needs to be implemented. Know what your own self-iso plan will be, so that you can share this with your ex and you can both be on the same page.

6 // Be flexi

Be accommodating with each other, if possible. If you or your ex can’t spend time with the children at one point or another, suggest that it happen at another time or be made up down the track.

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7 // Be compassionate

Being calm in times of high stress may seem almost impossible, but parents are more likely to reduce the conflict if both are making genuine efforts. Remember: we’re all in this together!

8 // Have a plan

If parents can’t sort their sh*t out and find it within themselves to compromise at times like this, in the interests of the children, then it’s pretty fair to say that you’re on your own, mama. Courts have limited availability at this time, dispute resolution services may be hard to access, so common sense and respectful engagement is the surest path.

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9 // Help each other as much as you can

Some people are going to lose their jobs or at least have their income reduced. This will impact what can be paid by way of child support or other contributions to expenses. So both parents and households need to find a way to make it work in the interests of the children.

10 // Be patient and positive

It looks like these changes to our lifestyles are sticking around for a while, which means we will no longer be able to work, socialise, parent and communicate how we used to. That’s why it’s important to embrace the joyful moments in each day, stay connected to each other by phone or social media and reach out to your tribe who can help you be the fierce mama your children need in these challenging times ahead. We CAN do this!

Cheryl Duffy is a certified Divorce Coach and author.