It can be both exciting and heartwarming to see kids return to school, but for divorced or separated co-parents, it can be extra-challenging, too. Changes to routines mean additional demands on time and energy. COVID-19 continues to be a concern. Mix in some tension between people who used to be married, and life can get stressful in a hurry.
How can divorced parents focus on the kids, and keep marital issues to a minimum? Like everything else, effective co-parenting is learned, and all skills require practice. Here are six ways to work towards those big-picture goals.
Learn to DIY: Sometimes a skills boost is the best route. Knowledge is empowering, so instead of waiting for someone else to fix a broken chair or set up a new wireless sound system, take charge. There are how-to videos on YouTube on every subject under the sun. Ask for advice from friends, neighbors and others who’ve tackled a similar project, then get going! It’s often easier than you think.
Raise your hand and ask for help: If there never seems to be enough time in the week to get everything done, get help. These days you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your door and hire someone online to handle all sorts of odd jobs. Find creative ways to lighten your load and still complete important chores and projects. Check out the article 101 Odd Jobs You Can Hire Someone Else To Do for ideas, then post a request via TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, on your neighborhood’s Facebook page or NextDoor.
Re-think responsibilities: Studies consistently show that women in all age groups still tend to spend twice as much time on housework and childcare as men. If this sounds familiar, dad may need to step up and mom may need to step back. Strive to create a system that fits the life you have, so you can listen to your child’s back-to-school stories and questions without worrying about your to-do list.
Keep in mind the adage “perfection is the enemy of good”. It can be a helpful reminder that finding better life balance and spending quality time with your kids is more important than a sparkling clean house and manicured yard.
Collaborate with your ex: If your child were struggling to work with group project partners or a biology lab partner in school, what would you tell him or her? It might help to think of co-parenting the same way. Keeping mutual goals in mind can keep you and your ex focused on what’s important, while setting a healthy example for your kids.
Improve communication: If it feels like you and your ex are constantly getting signals crossed, consider using an app designed especially for divorced co-parents. These tools make it easy to create schedules, share vital school records and proof of vaccinations, and split out-of-pocket expenses for doctor co-pays, school books, soccer cleats and tutus. Check out the 8 Best Co-Parenting Apps to Download After Divorce from Parents magazine.
Agree to disagree: Let’s face it, there may always be sore subjects between you and your former spouse that may never be resolved to the satisfaction of either one of you. In the interest of spending less time fuming and more time parenting, set aside differences wherever possible. Appreciating the good things your ex contributes as a co-parent can help you maintain your sanity, even when other things about them drive you crazy.
Back to school time is an opportunity to make memories with your child that will last a lifetime. Building some new skills and focusing on the big picture can give you more time to savor those fleeting moments as your child grows up.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.