Earlier in 2020, many couples were ready to embark on the painful but, in many situations, necessary journey through divorce. California Co-Parenting is today’s topic. Whether co-parents were happy or sad about it, plans were starting to form. Then March 2020 came along, and many of those plans met an abrupt end when mandatory quarantines were imposed. Millions of people lost their jobs. Millions of children had to be homeschooled.
For many parents, this meant postponing plans to physically separate. This could be the case for a whole host of reasons. For example, one or both parents lost their job, and now the family is relying on much less income to survive. It simply isn’t possible to pay the costs of moving plus pay child support or spousal support. Or maybe the child’s new homeschooling or daycare needs require one or both parents to stay home, or even prolonged unemployment is preventing a parent from being able to sign a new lease. Whatever the reason, the reality remains: two parents who no longer wish to share a life together still have to raise one or more children under the same roof.
Although no one likes a surprise pandemic, this doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Whether you and your partner are amicable (best case scenario) or contentious, parents need to be aware that a child’s sense of a familiar and secure home environment is more important now than ever. Even though you and your spouse are no longer romantically involved, there are upsides to having this time to lay the groundwork for your children, who will eventually experience having two separate households. Here are a few ways to make the most of California Co-Parenting:
Physically separate within the home.
If possible, you and your spouse should discuss defining your personal space. Space can of course make this difficult, but to the extent possible, try having separate rooms to begin the process of emotional separation. This is especially the case if spouses don’t get along. The more you decrease interactions, the less opportunity for interactions to become contentious. Even for amicable parents, taking space for yourself and your belongings can do wonders to start the process of rebuilding.
Just as if you and your spouse were co-parenting in two separate homes, you should discuss how you’re going to share parenting responsibilities. Are you going to share the week, where Mom is responsible for all child-rearing tasks from morning until night on certain days, or does one parent’s work schedule dictate when each parent will spend time with the child or children? If possible, start to adapt to a schedule so the family knows what to expect.
Set weekly check-in meetings.
Parents can have the best of intentions, but schedules and needs change. Nothing will help a co-parenting relationship deteriorate faster than lack of communication or flexibility- so check in frequently and often. You do not want resentment or frustration to build when you’re sharing a roof with your ex. If you weren’t great communicators before separation, examine how or why that came to be, and seek professional help to facilitate discussions. If you can set a date and time every week to review the prior week’s events, it will help you nip problems quickly and give each other space to reflect on your needs and the family’s needs.
Take space away from the home.
Keeping COVID restrictions and guidelines in mind, take this opportunity to get back into your hobbies, exercise, reach out to old friends, and start rebuilding your identity away from the home. Once you and your spouse are in a position to physically separate for the long-term, you will eventually have more free time for yourself. So why not start now? In order to be physically and mentally “there” for your children when it’s your time to share with them, you need to take care of yourself while you have the space.
Hopefully, this transitional period can be a great time to set expectations, healthy habits, and the foundation for an amicable co-parenting relationship. The children can get used to the concept of having two family units, while still maintaining stability for them at the outset. Take the time to research your options for how to support the family once physically apart. If you think child or spousal support is going to be a factor in your divorce, check out the SupportPay platform, which helps California Co-Parenting become healthy and efficient. For more information on how SupportPay can assist, check out our resource blog posts on all things support.