- Begin by asking yourself ‘What do our children need to thrive and be happy’ rather than focussing on when you each of you will spend time with the children
During these uncertain times, children can also feel anxious and confused, just like some adults are. Children who are cooped up with one parent may feel some relief and pleasure spending time with their other parent and having a change of environment. It will also give you the chance to have a break and re-charge your batteries and then look forward to having them back home again.
- Routine and consistency is vital so everyone knows where they stand, including the children
Let’s face it, there is no excuse for being late or having other commitments! Use a monthly calendar on the fridges in both homes so the children can check for themselves when they will be seeing the other parent. It’s not always easy for a child to keep asking as this can at times feel like a loaded question. Let the children feel part of the process.
- Make indirect contact easy for the children
There are now more options than ever for children to keep in touch with their other parent including Zoom, Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp video. Children are often more in tune with the current tech options so get them involved in helping to set this up.
Give the children their own space to have the conversation with the other parent. Turn off the TV or any other background noise. Try not to get involved if something is discussed that you object to or the child is over sharing information with the other parent; be patient and find the right time to raise any concerns or boundaries when the time is right.
- Keep everyone safe during the Covid 19 situation
Communicate openly with the other parent so they know what steps you have been taking to keep your children and also their other parent safe. Outline the social distancing measures you are adhering to and ask the other parent to share the same with you.
Familiarise yourself with the guidance of the President of the Family Division. This offers a helpful framework in which children are permitted to move between two homes. If there are vulnerable people in either home, you must let the other parent know and explain the steps you are taking.
- Explore shared parenting apps
There are some great shared parenting apps available including Family Wizard and 2Homes which provide separated parents with a safe way of communicating with each other about arrangements, medical appointments, school and extra curricula commitments. The apps can help to avoid any last-minute changes which can often be a flash point for conflict. Finding the time to introduce these apps now may even help you and your children as we all move out of lockdown and back into more familiar routines.
If you have any questions or concerns about shared parenting and contact with your children during these challenging times, call Vicky Hosking at Smith and Co on 01473 228010 or email email@example.com