Co-parenting may not be easy for divorced couples, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I’ve had my share of complications. But, I’ve also seen success when I applied positive methods that worked for both my kids’ father and me. Today I’m sharing my must-have co-parenting tips and hacks for separated or divorced parents.
My first co-parenting tips is to consider setting a meeting once each season (four times a year) with your co-parent. Bring along calendars, notebooks and anything else you’ll need to record important information. I know what you’re thinking: but we see each other all the time! That may be true. However, these meetings differ in that they will give you both an opportunity to discuss major life decisions instead of the everyday stuff.
Maybe one parent has been thinking of switching pediatricians. The other parent may be considering signing the kids up for sports or taking the kids on a vacation. Talking about these big decisions will alleviate one parent being surprised by a choice that seemingly came out of nowhere. Plan to meet once a season to keep everyone abreast of all plans. This can definitely help keep the peace.
Therapy Is For Everyone
The world we live in is growing more complicated by the day, and that in itself can be too much for some to deal with alone on a day-to-day basis. Thankfully, everyone, from the medical community to the music industry, is working to remove the stigma associated with getting help for mental health issues. When navigating through the challenges co-parenting brings, therapists can often be the reason you and your ex-spouse remain out of court.
Co-parenting tip number two: find a good therapist who understands the wants and needs of all parties involved. He/she will help the two of you communicate about difficult topics without tempers flaring and unnecessary arguments. You may even find that you have an easier time empathizing with one another. That can only be good for the most important people involved: the kids!
Holiday Time Sharing
This is a biggie. When divorced couples fail to master sharing time with kids, it is almost always problematic. We all get it. Everyone wants to have their precious little ones with them on the holidays. This is a great opportunity for both parents to put aside their own desires and prioritize a more peaceful and harmonious environment for the kids.
The key to creating a workable schedule is two-fold. First, decide to be selfless. Halloween might be your favorite holiday. But, if you’ve had the kids the last two years, consider asking the other parent if (s)he would like to switch it up this time. You’ll often find that a little compassion goes a long way in softening a tough exterior. The bonus is that (s)he will be more likely to compromise a bit on the next issue that arises.
The second part of this co-parenting tip involves a little flexibility. While holidays have specific calendar dates, the sentiment is what we all look forward to. Instead of secretly pouting when your ex has the kids on a day you love, elect to celebrate that holiday on the alternate date you will have the kids. For instance, if the other parent has the kids on Christmas day, why not choose to leave gifts wrapped and the tree up until the day afterward? Postpone your favorite traditions and do them when the kids return to you. Children are much more interested in the time spent and consistency, not the date they do things.
Join Forces For the Greater Good
This one may take the heaviest emotional lifting of all. But if you and your co-parent can manage it, the result will be happier, more well-adjusted children. If possible (and it may take some time), commit along with your ex to do something once a month together with the children. Often, divorce and co-parenting can breed an unhealthy tension in the air. This is not only felt by the adults but the children, as well. These are often the catalysts for acting out and suppressed emotions that kids’ little minds aren’t quite clear how to express at young ages.
If you and your co-parent can agree to take small chunks of time each month to spend time together with the kids, it can often be quite instrumental in bringing emotional relief to the anxious little minds we all want to protect. The commitment can be for something as small as a 30-45 minute breakfast or meeting to go to the child’s sports activity.
Nobody is saying co-parenting is ever easy, but it can definitely be manageable. Let these co-parenting tips help you along your journey to healthier, more peaceful parenting!