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June 1, 2020 by Indiana Lee

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about the world we live in, and the impact will likely be felt for a long time. For divorced parents who have different custody arrangements for their children, though, it’s more important than ever to work together to keep your kids safe, happy, healthy, and to make sure they’re staying on top of their schoolwork.

Whatever your child custody arrangements are, you should work to keep them the same throughout this pandemic. There is so much uncertainty going on in the world, that having some kind of normal routine can help your child to feel comfortable.

It’s been shown that strained relationships with one or more parents are leading causes of mental health conditions in children. So how can you continue to foster a healthy relationship between a child and your co-parent, keep them safe, and continue their education throughout this pandemic?

Making Your Custody Arrangements Clear

Use this time to serve as a reminder of your custody arrangements and what they really mean. If you have joint physical custody, you’ll need to decide with your estranged partner what arrangements work best for you when it comes to transporting your child.

If you have joint legal custody, you’ll both have a voice in making decisions about healthcare and school for your child. Though you might not agree on everything, it’s important to come to compromises that will benefit your child. During these strange times, being able to co-parent and stay positive is one of the best things you can do. Though you might be stressed, badmouthing your co-parent can actually wound your child and create a lasting negative impact.

You might typically have parallel parenting (with different rules and ideas), but working together through this pandemic and trying to unify as much as possible can help your child to feel more comfortable and secure. Now isn’t the time to make threats, to try to take your child away from your ex-partner, or to fight over the time you get with your child. Instead, by showing your child that you can work together with their other parent, you can ease some of their fears and also establish a routine that helps to reduce your own stress levels.

Establishing a Health and Wellness Plan — Together

It’s important for everyone to stay healthy right now, including you, your co-parent, and your child. Try working together with your former partner to establish a health and wellness plan you can both agree to. For yourself, it can include basic immune-boosting solutions, including:

-Getting enough sleep

-Eating healthy foods

-Managing your stress

-Exercising

When it comes to keeping your children healthy at both homes, it starts with educating them on how to stay safe. Talk to them about what they can do to stay healthy, including washing their hands frequently.

You should also be aware of the symptoms of coronavirus in children, so you can pay attention to any changes your child might be experiencing. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 in children (and adults) are fever, cough, and runny nose. Keep in mind that if your child does exhibit these symptoms, it doesn’t automatically mean they have the virus. But you should contact their doctor if you’re worried, and keep their other parent informed.

Staying On the Same Page With Education

At the end of 2019, only 12 states in the country had formal e-learning policies. Obviously, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that quickly.

If your child’s school has implemented an e-learning policy, make sure that you and your co-parent both know how to help them with it and ensure they’re using it properly. It’s also important to understand that what a child experiences at school can often go far beyond what they read in a textbook or learn in a lesson.

At school, children often have the support and reassurance they need thanks to teachers and guidance counselors. Guidance counselors do much more than help with academic counseling. They can also offer personal counseling to kids or teens who might be struggling, whether they’re having a hard time at school or at home. Some children talk to their guidance counselors because they feel safe in telling them things they might not be able to tell anyone else.

While you might not be able to take the place of your child’s guidance counselor, do your best to check in on them as often as possible, especially when they’re with your co-parent. If you’re worried there is a risk that your child is being abused or neglected, they need to know they can talk to you freely and open up.

During this period of online learning and a pandemic that has already caused events throughout the summer to be canceled, striking a balance can be difficult. It can become even more of a problem as a divorced couple with a custody arrangement in place.

If ever there was a time to set aside your personal differences and avoid arguments about custody, it’s now. It’s important to work together to make this balancing act work and to show your child that even during times of stress, their needs come first.

Indiana Lee lives in the Northwest and has a passion for the environment and healthy lifestyles. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana enjoys mountain bicycling and hiking on her off time and has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @indianalee3  

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