We find ourselves in unprecedented times. As we all come to terms with a new way of working, schooling and caring for ourselves and our loved ones we are also grappling with uncertainty, disappointment and confusion.
Unfortunately for couples who are separating or have already separated the situation at home may be unbearable or an already tense co-parenting arrangement is put under immense pressure. Even parents who are and have been able to work together following separation may struggle.
The government guidance is that children can still move between parents’ homes, subject to any concerns about parents or children showing symptoms and self-isolating as a result.
I have gathered some tips and suggestions that I hope will be helpful during the next few weeks:-
The current situation is frightening for many children. Find age appropriate explanations and see if both parents can agree the message to the children about the pandemic.
Health and wellbeing of children is always a priority. Make use of the great online video apps and programmes, many of which are free and give children the ability to stay in regular communication with the other parent. Think about increasing the number of calls that had previously taken place during periods to reassure parents who may not be able to see their children, or to reassure children who may be worried about the other parent for whatever reason.
Make sure both parents are complying with the Government restrictions and agree what each parent considers appropriate in the circumstances e.g. will children be taken to a supermarket, handwashing routines?
If you or the children show any symptoms communicate with the other parent immediately. Be open and honest about risks and quarantine. Think how you would like the other parent to behave. Give as much notice as possible to changes to arrangements.
Use common sense to find solutions. Try not to create unnecessary barriers to making things work. If, for whatever reason, time with children and a parent is not able to happen, think about how this could be replaced or made up later. Put yourself in the other parent’s position- how would you feel if you were not able to see them and what would you want in place? What would the children want?
Agree on what is expected in relation to school work now that the schools are closed. Make sure that the children have the books and resources they need whilst with each parent. The stress of home schooling can be overwhelming. Can you share the load?
Be flexible, be calm, be understanding, be compassionate. Children will be looking to parents to see how they manage and will pick up on much more than we realise. Children need to feel loved, safe and reassured. Fighting parents will only increase what is already an upsetting change to their routines and security.
If you need help with any issues, reach out to a mediator. Mediation is a great way to discuss issues and agree plans. Mediation is available through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and other online video options.
Stay safe and well. Please get in touch if I can assist.
Mediation will enable you to communicate directly with each other, rather than via solicitors or across a courtroom. We act as an impartial third party. We will help you both discuss all of the options. Most importantly, we always keep the needs of any children at the forefront of the discussions. Common topics for mediation include childcare arrangements and co-parenting plans.