Co-parenting with the added pressure of the Pandemic
For our fellow Victorians doing it tough, this one’s for you.
COVID-19 is a global crisis that is disrupting everyone’s home life, instilling fear from the uncertainty of the unknown and placing additional pressure on co-parenting. There are a few things to consider while we navigate through this time to minimize stress as much as possible – like adjusting your co-parenting plan.
One of the biggest challenges with divorce is the lack of effective communication and agreeing to a strategy. The most important thing to remember right now is to be compassionate towards your ex-partner and enter conversations with the intention of positive resolution. Below are some tips to help you effectively communicate and consider adhering to temporarily, until restrictions are lifted.
1) Agree on monitoring health
- It is vital for everyone’s safety to ensure everyone in the family understands the devastation COVID-19 can have on our health. Communicating with both households prior to handover is essential in keeping everyone safe and healthy. Communicate if you are feeling unwell with any of the virus symptoms and if possible, temperature check your child before and after travelling to each parent’s home. But do not use this period as an excuse to keep your child away from a parent.
2) Stay connected
- As you decide what arrangement works best for you, whether that is you are the weekday parent doing remote learning or the weekend parent guiding children through creative activities at home. Consider having daily FaceTime calls with each other to stay connected and up to date with how your children are going while they are away from you.
3) Avoid blame games and disagreements with your ex-partner
- The most important thing to focus on right now is keeping as much normality and routine within everyone’s lives and ensuring mental health is in check. With parents now working from home, potential job loss and financial fears, the last thing you need to add to the mix is fighting over insignificant disagreements. Be diplomatic and empathetic and save the minor squabbles for another time.
4) Come to an agreement or seek help if needed
- Acknowledge now might not be the safest time to be travelling back and forth between homes. If needed, come to an agreement that for the safety of everyone especially your children, it may be best for one parent to take full care giving for the duration of the lockdown. If this is a suitable agreement for you both, consider “make up time” for the parent who is not looking after the children to have additional time once safe to do so. Alternatively, you could opt for two weeks on again off again arrangement between households.
- If an amended co-parenting strategy does not suit both parents and you’re struggling to come to a mutual agreement you can contact us here or check out the statements of the Family Court at http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/home
- Ensure that any decisions that you make now are for the best for your children. Every decision must be for the child and their wellbeing and safety.
5) Positive affirmation
- Reassure your children that these circumstances are only temporary and once the crisis is over, there will be more normalcy in their lives.
- Reaffirm your children they are loved and safe.
- Give extra hugs to your children and acknowledge their feelings.
Just remember, this pandemic is happening worldwide and affecting so many families, but it will have an end. You’re doing the best that you can do provided the circumstances, and this is only temporary – so focus on what you can change, forget about what you have no control over and just take each day as it comes. We have additional support services listed in another blog post here and we have some wonderful worksheets you can download from our website to assist the situation titled “Self Care Through a Divorce”. We wish you all the best as you work through this time and hope you look after your mental health and each other and stay healthy and safe. If you need further advice, please feel free to reach out to us on 03) 9078 6980
From the MELCA Team.