If you’re living apart sharing parenting responsibilities can be hard. However, it’s not impossible to do if you are organised and willing. Here are a few tips on how to share parenting responsibilities:
Make a Co-Parenting Agreement
Sit down and work out what are the most important aspects of raising your child. Then try to agree to them. This might save arguments further down the line. Think about child care, schooling, health finance and religion. If you can agree on these things, then put pen to paper and make an agreement which you can both refer to in the future. It means that you both have peace of mind, knowing that these important matters have already been discussed and agreed upon.
Get a Co-Parenting App
There are a number of useful co-parenting apps on the market that will help you with your day to day organisation. Calendars will remind you about birthdays and special occasions. You can sort out visits and even keep track of expenses and store important information. Some apps are free and some have a monthly or yearly subscription. Popular apps are Our Family Wizard and 2 Houses.
Agree to Have a Main Decision Maker
If your child lives with one parent all year round, then this is the parent that should be able to make decisions on certain matters without having to get in touch with the other partner. For a start it is a lot more practical. It’s no good if one parent is in a meeting and can’t talk for a couple of hours about something which needs to be decided now. You can agree to talk about big decisions, but smaller ones like if a child wants to go on a sleepover, or to a party, should be left to the main caregiver.
Listen to Each Other
Listen to your co-parent or your ex’s point of view. Try not to let emotions get in the way and communicate clearly. If you both discuss things calmly and listen to each other, there will be less problems in your relationship.
Help Out in an Emergency
Don’t be inflexible with visitation arrangements. If a child is off sick from school and you have the time to look after him or her, then offer to do it. Don’t think, no it’s not my day. Help each other out as much as possible because this will be beneficial for your child.
Don’t Argue about Decisions in Front of Your Child
If you want your child to grow up feeling secure and confident, it is important not to argue in front of them. They will quickly learn that they can play one parent off against another and this will only lead to problems in the future. Show your child that you are a united front.
Agree About Discipline
Try and agree about discipline and be consistent. Otherwise a child will be confused about house rules and may start to rebel. Children like security and routine, so make sure that’s what they get whichever parent is looking after them.
Make Time to Communicate
Make sure the parent who is not living with their child makes time to communicate with them on a regular basis. Whether it’s using a cell phone, Skype or email, try and talk to your child as much as you can. Explain that you can’t always talk in working hours, but that you are available in the evenings or at weekends if they want to chat. If you are able to give a quick ring every evening, even if it is just to say goodnight, your child will feel loved and respected for this.
It is possible to share parenting responsibilities, even when parents live apart. All it takes is some thought and organisation and the willingness to make sure your child has the type of upbringing he or she deserves.