Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a clean break when you break-up with a partner who you have parented children with. Particularly if you decide to continue co-parenting after you split up.
Although for many people that means a lot of trouble, it doesn’t need to end up that way.
Especially if you have done your best to remain amicable throughout your divorce.
If you are facing the prospect of co-parenting, then we hope we can help you with the advice in this post.
1. Establish A Solid Co-Parenting Base To Work From
Get things off to a good start by establishing a solid routine, setting clear boundaries and determining a suitable means of communicating between you and your ex.
Even better, try to agree upon a plan with regards to discipline and work out rules about the bigger decisions you will need to make in the future.
If you do it at the start of your new journey, there will be less pressure on those serious conversations when those decisions come along.
2. Take A Patient Approach When Co-Parenting
As a parent you need to exercise patience when dealing with your children.
Although this may come easy when dealing with them, it’s trickier to do the same with your ex.
It’s even more difficult to exercise patience with yourself.
This is particularly true during the fallout of a break-up when you are feeling emotional.
Give yourself a break.
It’s new for both of you, so rather than focusing on getting everything 100% right, focus on those, even if they are fleeting, moments when things go well.
3. How To Manage Shared Custody
Sometimes, co-parenting is just not possible.
However, if you have shared custody, you need to take appropriate measures to limit the amount of contact and conflict you have with your ex.
For handovers, whether returning them home or picking them up, consider doing it at school or have a trusted family member or friend act as an intermediary.
For instance, when one of you drops the child at school or a relative’s home, the other can collect them from there without there needing to be any direct contact between the two of you.
Technology is especially useful in this situation as you can stay in contact without getting under each other’s skin or even being in the same room.
4. Making The Switch To Solo Parenting
Parenting is not the easiest thing, even as part of a couple.
So, you can only imagine how tiring and stressful it is as a single parent.
It can be very intimidating and overwhelming, but as you work on it and successfully meet each challenge that comes your way, you will grow in experience and confidence.
A healthy and productive co-parenting relationship can help alleviate the stress somewhat.
Probably the most important tip we could offer you at this point is to have a rigid bedtime in place as co-parents.
We know that’s a lot easier to suggest than it is to follow through on, but when you do, you will both have the benefit of some time to yourself at night.
5. Build A Support Network
When you are just spending time on your own with your kids, you are effectively a single parent.
Do you have people you can rely on for help?
Get them involved.
Many loved ones will only be too happy to help and be involved with your children.
However, even with the support of family and friends, many single parents feel isolated and alone – particularly in the early days after separation – if they don’t have any other single parents in their social circle.
If you don’t, there’s no time like the present to establish a support network.
Look for local groups offline or find single parent communities online via forums or Facebook groups among others.
89% of single parents reported that belonging to a community of people who understood their situation greatly eased feelings of loneliness.
6. How To Get Used To Spending Time Child-Free
Perhaps an even bigger adjustment than the above that comes from co-parenting as a result of divorce or separation is getting used to spending time on your own without the kids.
There is nothing wrong with feeling a bit uneasy and lost during the first few times you spend on your own while your kids are with their other parents.
You will notice a real difference in the noise level of your home.
This will be a sharp reminder of the extent at which your life has changed.
It’s likely you didn’t plan for this to happen, so it’s okay to feel like the world has just been pulled out from under you.
The good news is there are things you can do that can make it easier.
Primarily, make sure you appreciate how great it is that your kids have two parents working hard to look out for them.
Remember, your goal is for your children to be secure and happy.
It’s also important to see things from your partner’s point of view – they too are spending less time with your children too.
And when your kids are away, busy yourself to stop loneliness becoming a real problem.
Whether it’s starting a new hobby or resuming one you had before or meeting up with friends and relatives, do something.
Co-Parenting In Summary
Co-parenting is never the easiest thing in the world to start with and may never be perfect, but following some of the tips outlined in this post will make it easier and more enjoyable for both parents and children.