Written by Attorney Joryn Jenkins
Parenting is difficult enough as it is, but now with added stress due to the Coronavirus, parenting has become all the more challenging. Single parenting always comes with its trials and tribulations, whether it’s co-parenting, making the best decisions for the safety and security of your children, or simply finding time for yourself. This article outlines ways for single co-parents to maximize their parenting styles and keep their sanity during the Safer-At-Home orders due to Coronavirus concerns.
COVID-19 has forced us all into differing degrees of sheltering in place and/or self-quarantine; we are only to leave our homes for essential activities. Regulations like this are harsh for co-parenting relationships, and even more so for parents who are expected to share time with their children . . . equally.
If you have young children, you’ll know how important your kid’s mental health is for maintaining their relationships with your ex. In some cases, adhering to your regular timesharing schedule has become next to impossible; in other cases, both of you may agree that your youngsters will remain in one home (yours or your ex’s), perhaps the one in which they happened to be when your authorities locked you down. Or, if you are among those lucky enough to live near each other, and your lockdown permits it, perhaps you two have worked out a new timesharing schedule, one in which you can both maintain your separate, but healthy homes.
If you find yourself unable to share time with your kids in person, you do have options. You and your ex can ensure regular, even daily phone or video calls between you and your kids so that they can still visit with you. We’re in 2020 after all, right? There is a plethora of ways that one can communicate and maintain contact with one another while still complying with any guidelines enacted by your state or county.
What’s the best advice I can offer you? Speak with your co-parent and agree on new family protocols that will keep you and your children safe and healthy during this pandemic.
While we adults know that it’s best to remain isolated right now, your children may have a difficult time accepting this. Let’s face it, kids get bored. I can assure you that your kids are dreaming of running outside and visiting with their friends. Single parents: If your kids are old enough, you may want to leave them at home while you run to the grocery store. This will ultimately reduce the risk of contaminating your home. If your kids are too young to leave at home, read up on current CDC safety precautions before you leave your house.
Don’t forget about exercise! Now that we are spending far more time inside our homes than ever before, you’ll want to explore (safe) exercise options. Perhaps, your family can take a neighborhood stroll or bike ride. Remember, we are social distancing, not isolating! As long as you maintain a distance of six feet from others, feel free to step outside for some fresh air and distanced catch-up with neighbors. Trust me, social interaction, even from six feet away, is invaluable for you and for your kids’ mental health. And, that matters, too!
Put Your Mask on First
Initially, “quarantine” sounds like the perfect chance to catch up on some much needed “me time,” but the reality for parents with young children is much, much different. Your family is now cramped in what you once thought was your dream home. You’re spending far more time with your kids than ever before; catering to their each and every need can become overwhelming. The trick is to find your new equilibrium and to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is not just happening to you--what you're experiencing is something single parents around the globe are all challenging at the same time. We humans are resilient and adaptable, which means that when we put our minds to something, the odds are in our favor. Finding your balance takes time; luckily, the Coronavirus has insured we have plenty of that!
My advice is simple, but it’s proven effective for me. An hour or so before bed, once everything in the house is taken care of and the children are tucked into their beds, or at least rooms, take some time for yourself. Grab that book you’ve been eyeing on your shelf and dive into its plot. Order yourself a pair of Bluetooth headphones on Amazon (“you time” is the perfect excuse for this purchase; that link will take you to my favorite pair!) and listen to your music. Or, just relax in bed with your thoughts.
There is nothing wrong with reserving time for yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the aircraft safety message, “Put your oxygen mask on first; then help others.” The same reasoning applies here. If you neglect your mental health, how can you help your kids with theirs? I promise you; you deserve a little “me time.”
As you find yourself adjusting to the Coronavirus’ protocols, be sure to reflect on your own parental parameters. Do you need to revisit your timesharing agreement? Is it worth getting out of bed an hour earlier to squeeze in that (much needed) alone time? Should you plan an activity for your kids to do while you run errands?
Email me at Joryn@OpenPalmLaw.com. I’d love to hear about your quarantine (with kids) experience! We may even swap lockdown activities and stories. And, if you or someone you know needs a family lawyer committed to resolving family disputes amicably, or to work out your new timesharing agreements, give us a call at Open Palm.