Co-Parenting, COVID, and Turning the Page on a Challenging Year

COVID-related parenting problemsWhen formulating a parenting plan, divorcing parents and their attorneys try to take all potential issues into account. Proactively addressing the hows, whens, wheres, and what-do-we-do-ifs can provide clarity and minimize disruptions and disputes.

But even the best parenting plans didn’t contemplate a global pandemic.

Since COVID-19 turned the world on its axis last spring, all of us have had to pivot and improvise a bit as we navigated uncharted waters. For divorced parents, the usual kerfuffles about parenting time adjustments, pick-up and drop-off changes, and the other logistical matters of day-to-day co-parenting became that much more complicated. The ability to communicate, compromise, and consider the other parent’s perspective became even more indispensable, with jobs, income, childcare, school, health decisions, and plans of all kinds thrown into flux.

Now, with the holidays upon us and ten months of pandemic parenting under our belts, we can visualize a light at the end of the tunnel. Not only will we turn the page on this interminable year, but we look ahead towards vaccinations that bring hope for normalcy’s return.

But this holiday season is anything but normal. Divorced parents must make difficult decisions about traveling and spending time with multiple extended families. The same disagreements about what is acceptable and what is too risky for parents and kids alike given COVID only become more acute during a time that has so much meaning and involves so many traditions.

More than ever, co-parents need to remember the fundamentals of working together through the holidays. Whether this is your first holiday season as a divorced parent or you have a few yuletides under your belt, these tips can help you find some joy and peace.

In With the New

Kids with divorced parents often feel a significant loss of routine, comfort, and familiarity during those first post-divorce holidays. The combination of divorce and COVID-19 means that many of the traditions that defined the season for them (and you) may no longer be part of the program, including where and with whom they spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

But even the oldest traditions weren’t always so; they had to start somewhere. Make this the year to start new traditions for your family. Throughout the lockdowns and quarantines, we all leveraged technology and creativity to connect with others and have new kinds of fun. We can do the same during these holidays. While opening gifts over Zoom and sharing virtual cups of eggnog may not become enduring parts of the season in the years ahead, you may look back with fondness about how you made the best of it during a time when it wasn’t always easy to do so.

Blanket Yourself With Love and Friendship

For some folks, being alone after being with someone they loved for many years is the most emotionally challenging part of divorce. This year, that loss was compounded by the isolation and separation of lockdown and the lack of other activities and distractions that would have otherwise lifted spirits.

During a season that emphasizes love, joy, and family, these feelings of loss and loneliness can easily and quickly devolve into isolation and depression. As hard as it may be, don’t shut out the world around you during the holidays. Remember the joys of the season and the many friends and family members whose support and love were not lost in your divorce. Keep in touch however works best for you, whether on the phone, Zoom, or having a socially-distanced cup of coffee outdoors.

Give Yourself the Gift of Some Slack

As hard as you try to make the holidays perfect for your kids, not everything will be sugar plums and eggnog, especially this year. Kids may get sad, be disappointed, or act out. Your feelings and emotions may come through the cracks of the brave façade you display for the sake of your children.

Stop trying to be perfect. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad sometimes. Allow yourself moments of imperfection and weakness, but then return to the positive and beautiful things about the season that endure – your kids first and foremost – even though your marriage didn’t.

Kreis Enderle’s Family Law Attorneys Wish All of You a Healthy and Safe 2021

As the world turns the corner toward a better tomorrow, we remain committed to being here for you no matter what tomorrow brings.

If you have co-parenting questions or concerns, please contact the attorneys in Kreis Enderle’s Family Law Practice Group today.

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