After a divorce, you most likely don’t want to see your ex again, but if you have children, you may need to find ways to successfully co-parent. Co-parenting isn’t easy, but it’s often the best thing for your children.
If you’re just navigating co-parenting for the first time this year, or if you want to improve your existing co-parenting strategies, don’t approach 2020 with just a vague intent to improve your co-parenting life.
Instead, set specific, concrete goals that give you ways to improve or navigate co-parenting successfully. Not sure where to start? The following tips can help and might make great goals for the coming year.
Tips for Successful Co-Parenting in 2020
Give Your Children a Sense of Security
One of your top co-parenting goals needs to be to give your children a sense of security. Divorce can create a shift in your child’s living situation and family structure, leading to a sense of insecurity and confusing emotions.
Strain that your child feels in their life can affect their performance in the classroom. Like an “invisible backpack,” your child may bring the coping behaviors they’ve learned to deal with their home lives into the classroom, and that doesn’t work. For instance, if your child feels insecure about their life and has become hyper-vigilant as a result, it will be difficult for them to fit into the role of a student and to focus entirely on their schoolwork.
The good news is that there are many ways to help your kids feel secure. Start by establishing and maintaining a schedule both at home and at school to give your children a sense of normalcy and to help them know what to expect from day to day. Starting new traditions can also help to create a sense of security. It’s also important to maintain familial relationships. This allows children to continue enjoying the security of having both parents in their lives.
Create a Budget That Works for Your Family
When you’re co-parenting, not only do you need a budget for your own household, but you also need to coordinate with your ex-spouse to make sure that major expenses, like your child’s tuition and medical bills, are covered between both of your budgets. To prepare for the coming year, sit down and create your own household budget. Then, have a discussion with your ex-spouse about how you will both handle some of those larger or shared expenses.
If your budget is tight, there are many ways that you can save money to improve your financial security. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle can be a money-saving option, to start. If you change out old lightbulbs for new LED ones, your home will use less energy. Carefully monitoring your AC and heating energy usage can both save on energy and on your utility bills.
In fact, your heating bills can be a significant expense, but there are a few ways to save on heating costs this winter, too. Replacing your air filter can make your furnace more efficient, saving on energy. Rather than manually setting your thermostat during the day, which will cause the furnace to cycle on each time you increase the temperature, set your thermostat to a schedule, instead. You can also invest in a smart thermostat that will automatically make adjustments to help save energy and money.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is essential for effective co-parenting. Though you may not actively want to communicate with your ex, it’s still important to establish communication methods so that you can both hold active roles in parenting and stay updated about news concerning your children.
Communication takes many forms, and the communication style that works for you and your ex will depend on your lifestyle. However, you choose to communicate, though, keep communication positive. Make sure that your conversations focus only on the children and their needs, and keep communication professional. Be sure that you listen to what your ex has to say, and keep your communication civil. Always avoid fighting in front of your children and discuss what needs to be said in order to co-parent successfully.
One important aspect of communication may be sharing updates on your schedule, like when you’re dropping your kids off with your ex for the weekend. Consider using an app like Google Maps, which can calculate your ETA so you can provide accurate updates. This can be particularly helpful when you have to drive long distances or hit traffic while your ex is waiting.
Make Time for Yourself
You can only be an effective parent if you’re in a good mental and physical space, too. Making time for yourself is important so that you can be fully invested in your children’s well-being. As you fall into a schedule of co-parenting, be sure to budget time for your own self-care. Try setting positive health goals and participating in activities that you enjoy or taking some quiet time when you know you’ll have the house to yourself.
Co-parenting isn’t easy, but it can be essential to your children’s happiness and well-being. Be prepared for some hard work and tough discussions, but if you’re dedicated to co-parenting, you and your ex can make it work.