Co-parenting well is no easy feat in the best of times. Raising tiny humans (and not so tiny teenagers) between two different households takes coordination, diligence, and a whole lot of patience. Quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic has upped the challenge ten-fold. To help you and your child through it, here are 6 Tips and Tricks for Successful Co-parenting During Quarantine:
- Communicate: Communication is vital to coparenting, through the quarantine and beyond. You and your ex may have already struggled with communicating about your child before the pandemic hit. With social distancing guidelines in place, public health at risk, and the economy shaken, stressors are high and communication can break down under those pressures. Keep the focus on your child’s needs as you exchange information with the other parent. Quarantine is not the time to sweat the small stuff.
- Stay Organized: Utilize available technology to keep each other up to date about your child between households. Web and app-based platforms like Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents can help keep everything in one place when it comes to your child. These services feature co-parenting tools such as shared family calendars, message boards, e-journals with photo space for special moments with your child, expense logs for shared child expenses, and secured information banks for things like medications, immunization records, emergency contacts, and school records.
- United approach: Get on the same page of how to talk with your child about COVID-19 in an age appropriate way. Acknowledge the other parent’s concerns as you figure out how to best help your child through the quarantine. Listen to your child and validate their feelings as they are navigating school shut downs, worry about the virus, sadness of being away from the other parent, extended family, and friends, and overall confusion about the “new normal.”
- Educate yourself: Learn about COVID-19 and prevention methods from reliable sources. Work with the other parent to follow CDC, state, and local guidelines in both households to keep your child healthy and safe. Teach your child how to properly wash their hands, cover their mouth, and keep things clean. Model those same behaviors for your child. The more you instill preventative habits in your child during your parenting time, the more likely he or she will practice those same things in the other parent’s care.
- Be Flexible: In the wake of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders across the United States, parenting plans can get complicated. While you should be following your parenting plan as closely as possible during the quarantine, there may be times where a slight adjustment makes the most sense. Allow for some reasonable flexibility with the other parent.
- Stay positive: The quarantine won’t last forever. Embrace the simple joys and small victories you experience with your child on a day to day basis. Use this time to strengthen your coparenting relationship with the other parent. You will be ahead of the game when you come out on the other side.