Dear Sue I’m worried about Christmas as I’m recently divorced. My kids are still reeling from the changes. What is your advice? Liz Jackson, New Addington, Surrey
Most parents worry about this – so you’re not alone.
The question most co-parent’s worry about is: ‘ Will I be able to see my children over the next few weeks – or plan to have a holiday or fun time?’
Communication between separated parents is “crucial” even more than usual. It’s REALLY important to keep each other informed in relation to the health and wellbeing of your children (& yourselves) and to keep to very similar behaviours around washing hands & when staying inside.
Younger children will need you to ‘ talk & teach’ them that you are a TEAM & that they need to pull together at this difficult time for everyone.
Older children should be included in conversations, too – as they are trying to adjust to this new highly unusual reality too.
Everything you do as a co-parent, every choice you make should be in your child’s best interests.
Put a photo of your children on the centre of the table when you’re making decisions as it will focus you on what’s in their best interest.
A child needs stability and routine – and maintaining this, while also keeping them safe during living through a pandemic is paramount.
There will be some tough conversations in the coming months & difficult decisions.
There will be unsettling news, different routines & lots of changes that you can’t control.
One of the biggest questions is how you navigate self-isolation if your partner or yourself gets sick.
Don’t wait until it happens – plan ahead & prepare in case. Talk to your ex about what you should do.
If one household in a co-parenting set-up does show symptoms, it’s important to follow the guidelines and self-isolate for 10 days – and yes, this means parents in different households both self-isolating if you want your child to move between your homes freely.
It goes without saying NO visits to grandparents over 70 or vulnerable grandparents. Use technology, write letters & draw pictures and pick up the landline for a chat!
This is a time of huge upheaval for children, let alone children experiencing divorce.
Remember there are other methods of maintaining contact such as FaceTime or Skype that allow your child to see you & chat to you even if you can’t physically be together.
Perhaps you could read a bedtime story over Skype to your kids, cook together over FaceTime – be inventive & think out of the box.
Pick a regular time (and stick to it!) so you know that at a certain time of a certain day (or days) each week you connect with your kids.
Listen to your children’s worries & reassure their concerns – work together for the bigger picture & benefit of your children & stay home. Use this time to play, dance, explore new hobbies & read to your kids.
This time brings opportunities too – like eating together, talking together & building happy memories that will last a lifetime in spite of this terrible virus.