I don’t think any couple going through a Collaborative Divorce ever imagined they would have to come up with co-parenting guidelines for a Pandemic. And although you may not have completed your divorce just yet, you still need to cooperatively co-parent.
While a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic definitely adds to the stress of co-parenting, it also highlights why you chose Collaborative Divorce, over other options, in the first place. Collaborative Divorce and COVID-19 co- parenting are both about putting the children first and safeguarding the children you love.
Even though you may be feeling confused about how to navigate all of the parenting issues associated with COVID-19, this is a unique opportunity to model for your children what it looks like when people really collaborate together. Because this is a historically unprecedented and emotionally charged event, it is likely that most of your children will remember exactly how your family weathered this crisis. Make this a positive life lesson that stays with your children for years to come. Here are a few tips on how you and your co-parent can get through this complicated parenting situation in a collaborative fashion.
1. Agree on How to Monitor Everyone’s Health
It is more important than ever to honestly disclose any kind of health issues you may be having to each other. If one parent knows they have been exposed to someone who may have symptoms, it is best to tell each other right away, as temporary changes to the parenting time schedule may be necessary to minimize the risk to the children. You may also want to agree that you will take the children’s temperature at certain times when they are with you, and report it to the other parent. For example, you might decide to take temperatures after each exchange.
2. Collaboratively Share Information About Your Child
Discuss with your co-parent your plans for any outings with the children, and the precautions you will take for their health. Work together to create a list of people that you and your children can have contact with during this time, such as caregivers and/or extended family. Don’t assume that your co-parent will be in agreement with all the decision you make about exposing your children to other people. In addition, be transparent about your own activities and exposure to other people. And As we begin to transition out of “shelter in” protocols, discuss together your comfort levels around your children’s reentry into daily life activities, and decide upon a plan that you are both comfortable with.
3. Set up a cooperative Schedule.
All parents are dealing with the stress of home-schooling children in addition to working, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and balancing any assortment of other issues. It is important to discuss how to create a schedule that allows both of you to balance all your responsibilities. For example, one parent might focus on schooling kids at home during the daytime, while the other focuses on work. If you both work, you could assign days for each of you to be responsible for the child care. However, many co-parenting families are putting a liberal FaceTime or zoom schedule in place so no matter what your situation, both parents can stay in communication with the children daily.
4. Practice Effective Co-Parenting NOW.!
Finally, stop focusing on you vs. me, and start focusing on us vs. COVID-19. If you are having trouble deciding how to handle a situation with your co-parent, try setting aside your feelings about your co-parent and ask yourself the question,” How is my behavior affecting my child, and am I making a decision because it is in their best interest?” This is not the time for your children to experience more stress and uncertainty in their lives, or to see you expressing frustration and anger at the other parent. If you need to discuss an issue with your co-parent be sure to do it privately, and away from children’s ears. Model for your children what collaboration really is and help them to see that even when families have problems, they can still offer support and understanding to each other.