Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic has been a feat of patience for all of us. Parents who are navigating the already treacherous waters of co-parenting have faced unique challenges. Multi-home families have been forced to figure out ways to keep their families safe while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in an entirely not normal situation.
“Parents who are co-parenting find themselves in what can feel like an impossible situation,” explains CHLI Life-balance expert Julie Frumin. “You want to give your kids as much consistency as possible, but there’s only so much you can do in light of government restrictions and your own fears about your children’s safety.”
While there are some signs of hope at the end of the COVID tunnel, things are not entirely over yet. Here’s some advice for getting through COVID as a co-parent.
Schedule time for an honest conversation
By now, both parents are probably feeling exhausted and frustrated if you haven’t been able to find a workable solution. Schedule time to have a candid but civil conversation to lay it all on the table. “You can’t place a call and expect the other parent to be available whenever you are,” says Frumin. “Schedule time in advance when you will both be mentally present so you can have a productive discussion about the next steps.”
Think about what's best for the kids
Your discussion should primarily center on what’s best for your children. After all, they are your primary focus as co-parents. Instead of talking about what you want, talk about what your kids need. Reframe the conversation to always focus on finding solutions for your kids, keeping in mind that you both might have to give up some time with them to reach the end result of their safety and happiness. “Parents can have differing opinions about safety during the pandemic. For example, mom’s household can be a mask-wearing one and dad’s is not. It can be difficult to accept that the two parents have different rules. Ultimately this can be discussed with your child the same way you would address pre-pandemic issues that are different, such as bedtime routines or food choices,” says Frumin. “Working together to keep consistency between the two households would be ideal, but it’s not always realistic.”
It’s not uncommon to have one parent end up seeing their kids less during the pandemic because of where they work. Nurses and doctors, for example, may need to take on extra hours and use extra precautions before they can have kids in their home. This doesn’t mean they can’t stay connected. Work together to ensure that your kids stay connected to both parents using apps like Zoom or Facetime. Even a goodnight phone call can help kids feel close to both parents.
Remember this is stressful for kids too
Kids are going through a lot these days. The pandemic has hit them hard in ways adults can easily forget. Not seeing their friends, having to learn through a screen, and missing out on afterschool activities like their favorite sport is all hard. Keeping in mind that your kids are stressed out can help you navigate these waters with a little more care. Watch what you say in front of your kids and stay calm when they get frustrated. Remember, you will get through this.
Take care of yourself
“Pandemic or not—if you’re stressed, your kids will be stressed,” Frumin says. Find healthy ways to de-stress, like exercising, meditating, or treating yourself to a day at the spa. California Health & Longevity Institute has several experiences designed to help you relax and recharge so you can be ready for whatever comes your way.
We’re Here for You with Virtual and In-Person Options
Join us at CHLI for virtual and in-person offerings. If you’re looking for a safe way to exercise, we offer socially distanced group fitness classes in the beautiful gardens. If you need more support, our lifestyle consultations can help you get back on track. Our experts can help you find balance in your life while minimizing stress to help you get through the pandemic and beyond.