Billions of people across the globe are struggling to find a new “normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic. While lockdown orders and other restrictions begin to ease a bit here in Texas, there is no playbook for how and when to resume regular activities.
During an uncertain time, we can be part of the problem or the solution. That’s true for every individual as well as parents who share custody of their children. Co-parenting is difficult even during the best of times and has become even more challenging during the past several weeks.
Co-parenting stress relievers
Everyone has been affected differently by the pandemic, and it’s essential that parents take steps to protect their physical and emotional well-being for everyone’s sake. Actions that can help reduce stress include:
- Care for yourself: Set aside time for reading, walking, biking or jogging and reduce your access to wall-to-wall news coverage of the pandemic. Virtual dinner parties, free online workouts and other creative activities may help you remain connected to others during this social-distancing period.
- Be open to compromise: The health crisis may have affected you and your co-parent in different ways, from losing a job or income to the need for isolation after possible exposure to the virus. While courts say custody agreements remain in effect, they also encourage working with a co-parent to alter schedules – or drop-offs and pick-ups – when it’s in everyone’s best interest.
- Exercise patience: We are in a time never seen before in our lifetimes, and both parents and children process and respond to the stress it creates in different ways. Be patient with your children as they cope with the loss of their routine.
- Adapt expectations: Viewing the current situation for what it is can also help relieve stress. Whether it’s added anxiety over homeschooling children or being together 24 hours a day in a small space, understand this is an unusual time that you have little control over. This calls for a different way of thinking and new strategies for coping.
Adapting to change isn’t easy
The different world we’ve lived in for the past several weeks brings new challenges just about every day, and no one knows when things will get back to normal. Honesty and flexibility are crucial to maintaining physical and emotional health. However, in cases where co-parents can’t find the middle ground, seek legal help resolving these conflicts during a confusing time.