A few weeks ago, a journalist from Marie-Claire contacted me and asked me for 10 co-parenting tips for a pandemic. These were published and you can Google them. But I thought I’d share them with you here, because they might be useful to you, if you’re co-parenting right now.
These tips will also help if you’re going through a stressful period with your child – especially if some other kind of separation is involved, like a hospital visit.
Watch video or scroll down to read more…
Let’s dive straight in…
#1 – Trust your child
Trust your child to be able to cope.
Believe in their ability, because this is so empowering.
When we believe in children’s ability it gives them the message that they are capable, that they can cope, that they will overcome and be resilient. If you trust your child to cope with any difficulties they may be facing, for example travelling between households, it’s a way of showing your support.
#2 – Don’t believe your thoughts
If you’ve separated from your partner, it’s easy to start worrying about the impact this will have on your child. It’s all too easy to imagine future unhappy scenarios. But remember this: Your thoughts are just your thoughts, and they might be true, or they might not be true.
Thoughts don’t always reflect reality, in my experience. So, if there’s a part of you that’s catastrophizing or scaring you, you can have a chat with it and you can say, “Yes. Thank you for sharing,” and choose not to listen.
#3 – Be okay with not being okay
All of us are under tremendous strain and pressure at the moment. There are going to be times when we’re not going to feel okay. If you’re co-parenting on top of everything else, it will be tough for you and for your child. But what can help is to roll with the punches, recognising that this is tough and that it’s okay if we’re not okay, for a while.
I remember when my son went to visit his father earlier on in this lockdown. I felt a bit bereft for a while. But what I didn’t do – and tried consciously not to do – was tell myself off for feeling bad. I didn’t tell myself I should be feeling positive.
Be okay with not being okay. And trust that you will rise up again and feel better, because that’s what feelings do, they get worse, then they get better.
#4 – Take radical care of yourself
Prioritise your self-care. I’m pointing to all those simple things that we know, like eating nutritiously, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep. The one that’s tough for me is always getting enough sleep. These things are so important. And if you feel that you’re not managing to look after yourself right now, then just have a lovely warm bath. That’s something really easy that we can do to support ourselves.
Gradually lay down those good habits one step at a time – drinking well, eating well, you know what they are for you – just start doing them.
#5 – Connect energetically with your child
Sometimes when our children are away from us, we may miss them, or want to give love to them. You literally can do this.
Close your eyes and see your child in front of you and send them a beam of love from your heart to theirs. See it filling them up, and see this sharing of love also filling you up so the two of you are in a bubble of love.
I can’t prove to you that this love will reach your child – although I have experience of these things really reaching other people – but it will make you feel better. There’s nothing like love to help us feel better. And we don’t need to wait for it to come from another person. We can create it from ourselves. We have endless sources of love within ourselves.
#6 – Let them feel all the feelings
When we get back together with our children, we may hope for a joyful reunion and be looking forward to it. But it’s not always going to be like that.
Your child may have difficulty transitioning from one parent to the other. They may be grumpy because you’ve been away from them.
This is perfectly natural – and really very common. So if your children are grumpy when they come home, there’s no need to fix them. I recommend making space for the feelings and allowing them to be there. And empathise.
#7 – Make things easy for yourself
If you’re co-parenting right now, and dealing with a pandemic, and doing home-schooling at home, and maybe you’re working as well, try to find little ways to make things easier.
You might want to treat yourself to a take-away, or not follow schooling instructions to the letter. There are little things that we can let go of . We don’t have to hold to the highest standards all the time.
These little kindnesses to yourself will help you and, therefore, help your child and your relationship with each other.
#8 – If things go pear-shaped, repair
Parents are not perfect. We’re not meant to be perfect.
I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. None of us are perfect and things will go wrong.
Sometimes, we may shout or lose our temper. Just know that you can always repair. And the difference between a healthy relationship and your child’s opportunity to create a secure attachment with you, or not, is repair. It’s not all lost if you mess up. We all mess up.
Know that you can repair and apologise. You can express your regret that you missed an opportunity to be kind. It’s as simple as that.
#9 – Show an interest in your children’s interests
We all love it when people show an interest in things that we’re interested in. At the moment, my son is interested in coding. So we have a lot of conversations about coding. I’m not that interested in coding, and he knows that, but he still appreciates that I spend time talking to him about this.
With your children, it may be that they’re forthcoming about their interest, like my son is, or maybe they’re not. But you could just sidle up to them when they’re doing something that they’re interested in – maybe watching a favourite TV programme or playing with Lego – and chat to them about that.
Chat to them about what you see them doing, and just generally be interested. Children really appreciate that.
#10 – Your presence is the best present
If you’ve been away from your child, they’re coming back home and you’re looking forward to seeing them, know that just hanging out with them is really the biggest gift you can give them.
You don’t need to have any special presents for them or do any special things. Just know that that’s okay, because just being with them – doing some cooking, playing cards, just hanging out – is really a huge gift to your children.
All of these tips that I’ve shared will help you take care of yourself, take care of your child, and take care of your relationship, above all.
If you’d like to do a very special process to help you deepen your relationship with your child, or maybe even do some repair – if you’ve been feeling a bit disconnected, or you’ve really been at odds with each other – I recommend my meditation – Reset Your Relationship with Your Child.
It’s just nine minutes long. You could do it tonight, or if your child’s away, you can do it and see how different it feels when you see your child again. You may really feel that you’re both different. This meditation has proven itself over and over again. Click to download it now: Reset Your Relationship with Your Child.
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