5 Tips to Make Co-Parenting Easier for Kids and Parents

Parenting is hard work. Co-parenting kids in two different homes is even harder. The important thing to remember is that our job, while under one roof or two, is to raise kind, caring, hard-working humans. We cannot help children become adults with good character if we don’t first model that within ourselves.

co-parentingHere are a few tips to make co-parenting a tad easier:

CO-PARENTING TIP #1: See the other parent through your child’s eyes. Have empathy.
In the last year of marriage and the months after divorce, my former spouse and I said and did things that were definitely NOT the best versions of us as adults. But our parenting is not a reflection of how we treated each other. My daughter LOVES and adores her dad. He loves her even more.

Helpful Hint: Make the contact photo of your former partner a picture of your kid/kiddos. When you are communicating via phone or text, you will see your children first and hopefully remember what you are working for.

CO-PARENTING TIP#2: Digitize your schedule.
We use the Cozi calendar to get the job done. This app is downloaded to your phone and can also be used on a desktop. Each person has their own color and both parents are able to add events to the calendar. I make sure to always include when my work schedule changes outside of the normal teaching day and add in events on my side of the family the moment I know about them. That way we can see how it can be accommodated and vice-versa. Be courteous and let the other parent know when you added something to the calendar outside of the regular activities even if s/he doesn’t do that for you. 

Helpful Hint: Autofill your Fridays labeled Mom/Dad for the whole year and use the notetaking feature to add any changes that take place. Use features to get reminder texts and emails sent for important events and activities. 

CO-PARENTING TIP #3: Send a monthly overview email.
This may seem like overkill if you are already using a calendar together, but sometimes when we aren’t in face-to-face contact with the other parent anymore we start to get that out-of-sight, out-of-mind behavior. In the end, it only hurts our children when we fail to remember that they also live a life with another person who loves them just as much as we do. Again, if you are the only one open to doing this, don’t give up! It only benefits your child to stay organized and kind.

Helpful Hint: Keep the email short and specific. A friendly greeting followed by bullet points in chronological order all of the important events {i.e.; sports photos, dentist after school, birthday party} out of the normal routine. Then ask the other parent to let you know if you missed anything or if anything has come up that needs to be added. Teamwork makes the dream work! 

CO-PARENTING TIP#4: Give each child a checklist and then give them grace.
Trying to remember sports gear, homework, library books, favorite stuffy, etc. can be a full-time job. Do not expect your child with a brain still developing in the areas of executive functioning to remember all of this every time. Make a small checklist for each child and post it in an area best suited for him.  Load up the night before a transition so the day-of isn’t as hectic. Have a landing space where the loaded bags are placed so grabbing in the morning is easy peasy.

Helpful Hint: Give LOTS of grace. Even years into transitioning between homes, a child can reach different developmental stages emotionally and physically that cause forgetfulness, anger, or sadness about the process. Be kind and compassionate as you remind your child how loved she is by both parents. 

CO-PARENTING TIP#5: Give your former partner grace and follow the golden rule
You probably have some anger and frustration from all the reasons you are not together anymore in the first place. I get it. But as parents, our job is to model good character and good habits for our children. Does it really matter if he wants three extra nights this month for a family getaway? Does it really matter that she said she would grab them before dinner and didn’t two weeks in a row? No. Try to focus on that and give grace as “life” keeps coming at you.

Helpful Hint: Apply the Golden Rule at all times! This doesn’t make you a doormat. It makes you a mature co-parent.

If you struggle to co-parent with your former partner, don’t give up!
You might have some work to do to let go of hurts and become your best self.
Remember, you can only control YOU. Your children need your example.