Separation is a difficult process for a family to go through, particularly for the kids. Part of it is because of the kids though the relationship between the two parents would never end. Though you are no longer a couple, you are still the parents of the same children, and that is some kind of a relationship nonetheless. For your kids, it is important to make this new relationship as peaceful as possible. Here are some things that can help.
The process of divorce or separation is very hard on children, and you have probably already had some conversations about it with them. But they will still have questions and worries, and it is important that you keep your eyes and ears open for those. Sometimes your kids will be open to talking about it, but other times, they may withdraw and not want to share their feelings. Strive to keep open communication, and even share your own feelings about what is happening. This will reassure them that they aren’t alone in their fears and hurt. Be honest, and don’t shelter them from reality, but do be mindful not to share too much in case it may create more hurt. Some things you can say to a teenager you can’t say to an eight-year-old, for example.
While you need to focus on your children and their well being, you also need to keep yourself in mind. Are you healthy and dealing with things well? Talk to friends and family about what is going on, and lean on them for emotional support. Go to a counselor if you need one. And your loved ones can offer more than emotional support. If cleaning the house just seems too hard or you need some time alone, call on those people to offer their assistance to you. Ask a friend to watch the kids for an hour while you go off and do something on your own, or ask a friend to come over to help you make dinner tonight. They care about you and want to help you, so let them. Remember that you aren’t alone.
It might be hard to adjust to a shared parenting schedule, but it will have to happen sometime. To help you adjust to it, come up with a strategy for how to share parenting time and communicate with each other. Having these strategies in place will minimize disputes and make things easier for the children. If you live too far apart for the children to move between your homes frequently, make plans for the weekends and holidays. Also in this situation, schedule phone calls or video chats so that the kids can communicate with their other parent even from a distance.
Next, put the schedule where everyone can see it, including the kids. For the parents and teenage kids who are always online, an online schedule might work best, but for the younger kids, a physical calendar that’s easy for them to interpret may work better. You can color-code your calendar so that everyone can quickly tell where the kids will be on which days.
Decide on a method of communication
It is important to communicate as co-parents, but it can also be hard and emotionally taxing. If you find that talking in person or over the phone tends to erupt into an argument, then try a text-based format such as emails, texts, or a co-parenting tool that has a messaging system.
By enlisting these strategies, you can make the entire process go smoother. Remember that this isn’t about you or your co-parent, but about your children and their well being. Make an effort to work together as parents for their sake.