COVID-19 has introduced fear, uncertainty, and disruption to households across the country and across the globe. For some parents who are divorced or separated, this means additional strife in an already rocky relationship. For others, these unprecedented times have introduced chaos and discord into an otherwise balanced custodial arrangement. Whatever the state of your co-parenting relationship may be, these five tips will help you and your ex to work together through COVID-19 and emerge having grown from the experience.
With so much information (and misinformation) swirling around social media, it can become overwhelming trying to stay up-to-speed on new developments. Keep it simple. Follow the CDC’s health and safety recommendations and exercise best practices in your home. Protect your family’s health and safety by relying on accurate and up-to-date information about how the virus is spread and what measures your community is implementing. Remember that this is temporary, and the more conscientious you and your family are about your health and that of others, the sooner we will be back to normal again.
Provide Stability through Synchronization
Children need routine and stability to flourish, even more so during stressful times. By setting a schedule for each day, you can bring a semblance of normalcy and continuity to your child’s life. Make a point of planning out meals and eating dinner together at a set time each night. Designate time after dinner for board games, puzzles, or arts and crafts. Have a set bedtime and age-appropriate chores around the house. Most importantly, communicate with your ex about what that schedule looks like and invite them to collaborate in defining what works best for each household. Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page about restrictions and boundaries. The most important thing is to ensure that your kids’ daily schedule is the same in each home. By synchronizing with your ex, you will give your children the comfort of knowing what to expect each day, even when you don’t.
Stick to the Plan
Except where to do so poses a threat to your children’s health and safety, you and your ex should adhere to your custodial schedule. Confirm with one another your intent to do so, that you may each have the peace of mind to know when you will have custody of your children next. Your children will likewise find comfort in knowing that you and your ex are taking all of the steps necessary to ensure that they are safe in both homes.
Track Your Gratitudes
It’s easy to focus on the negative each day, especially if you’re following the news 24/7. Taking inventory of “silver linings” requires more effort, but it’s time well spent. Use a chart or whiteboard to track the things you’re grateful each day or week. They can be big things (we’re all healthy and happy today) or small things (Frozen 2 streaming on Disney+). By doing this exercise at each household regularly, you and your ex will give your children things to be excited about and look forward to in each home.
Care for Yourself
When your children are at the other parent’s house, do something for your sole benefit each day. Your children look to you for guidance and assurance, and if you’re frazzled from not caring after yourself then you’re less equipped to provide for them. Read a book, Facetime with a friend, work out, or simply catch up on rest. If you’re feeling unusual anxiety or depression, you are not alone! Seek out support from loved ones and mental health professionals, many of whom can provide services via Facetime or Zoom. By taking the time to re-charge while your children are with the other parent, you’re developing the resiliency and calm your children need from you.
For more information on how the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis will affect your family’s situation, or for any questions regarding Custody and Family Law generally, give us a call at (610) 892 3877. One of our experienced attorneys will be glad to discuss with you via telephone or video conference.