A divorce is an emotionally fraught time for most people, but it is particularly difficult when you and your soon-to-be ex share children. It can be difficult to decide what is best for your children when you no longer see eye to eye.
However, divorce is tough enough on children. You and your former partner must figure out how to co-parent going forward, so you can ease this difficult transition as much as possible. Here are some tips to help you successfully co-parent.
Do not get hung up on a 50/50 split
Though spending time with your children is important, try not to get caught up in making sure your children spend exactly half their time with you. Finding a schedule that works for everyone is more important. Also try to focus on spending quality time with your children. If they stay with your ex during the week, you could offer to pick them up from school and drive them over to your former partner’s place. Being flexible will make things easier with your ex and could allow you to spend more time with your children.
Support your former partner’s relationship with your kids
You may have negative feelings toward your former spouse, but do not allow those feelings to cloud your co-parenting responsibilities. Your children need to spend time with both of their parents, so try to stick to the schedule, but also be open to making accommodations when needed. Work trips, vacation and holidays come up, so be ready to find solutions that work for everyone.
Review your parenting schedule regularly
Since life is filled with change, do not think your parenting schedule will remain static. You may be able to plan around holidays, but as your children get older, their schedules will change. Your former partner may also get a new job or move to a new home. Plan to review your parenting schedule at regular intervals and then adjust it accordingly.
Keep communication open
As co-parents, it is important to communicate directly with your former partner. Asking your children to act as a go-between is unfair. If you cannot bring yourself to speak in person, you could talk on the phone, via text or by email. You could even hold regular co-parenting meetings where you meet at a neutral location to discuss your children.
Deal with loneliness
After a divorce, you will no longer have a partner at home, and your kids will be gone part of the time. That means you could be spending much more time on your own. While some time alone is okay, spending too much time alone can lead to depression. You could try out a new hobby, work on an old passion project, join a gym or reach out to your friends. The important thing is not to dwell on your loneliness, but to get out in the world and find new things to keep you happy.
Avoid angry outbursts
This should seem obvious, but if you and your ex had particularly bad split, it can be easier said than done. However, the last thing your children need to see is your yelling at your former partner or belittling him or her in front of your kids. According to Parents, you could create a list of all the things your former partner does that upsets you. Then instead of firing off an angry text, you add that behavior to your list. When you see your ex again, you likely will have cooled down, and his or her irksome action may not seem like such a big deal. The act of writing it down also allows you to get that anger out of your system.
Learning how to co-parent after a divorce can be challenging. However, if you employ these strategies, it should go easier for you, your former partner and your kids.