Parenting is hard enough as it is, but when you and your partner are no longer together it’s even more challenging. So what’s the best way to manage it? We spoke with three parents to find out their top co-parenting tips after a split and here’s what they came up with.
1. Put aside differences
First of all, and often the hardest for some ex-couples, is to put aside your differences. You MUST remember it’s about the kids and not your past relationship with your co-parent. In any given situation you always need to ask yourself “what’s best for the kids?”
Felix* is a father of two daughters aged 10 and 11 and he says is it all about sacrificing your desires for the benefit of your kids. “This may sometimes mean you have to make compromises you don’t want to, but if it’s all for the benefit of your children then ultimately it doesn’t matter.”
2. View your ex as a business partner
It can help to think of your ex as a business partner or a work colleague, and that your job is to raise the kids in the best way possible, things will become a lot easier. Work colleagues don’t always have to be friends, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together and get the job done.
3. Keep a clear head
Potential for conflict, high emotions, and a heated history do not mix with alcohol. So never talk to each other if either of you have had a few drinks. A clear head is much better for communication on any occasion with your ex.
4. Be the bigger person
Resist the urge to always need to be right or “get revenge”. Any negative actions only create negative reactions so don’t create a cycle of anger and hostility. Always strive to be the bigger person.
Read more about co-parenting:
- 8 apps that make co-parenting a whole lot easier
- Brad and Ange’s co-parenting plan: “We will always be a family”
- Co-parenting done right: Mum’s viral post about “more valuable than gold” dad
5. Calmly does it
Emotions will always be heightened after a split, but remember that this too shall pass. Things will calm down and dissipate over time, and get easier if you concentrate on keeping it peaceful and focus on the kids. Keep ego out of it and never act out of spite – be the person you’d like to deal with and that will eventually be reflected back to you because this person is in your life for the rest of your life, like it or not.
6. Get organised
Communicating with your ex via an online calendar is the best way to make sure you’re both in the loop with your child’s schedule. If you can, a verbal chat every now and then to chat about what’s coming up for the next quarter is ideal too – e.g. holidays, appointments, new school term, sports, etc.
Other useful tips are to put everything in writing, create a check list for both houses, and sort out a way for you both to swap over things such as items of clothing.
According to mum-of-one Clare*, “Your kids shouldn’t need to worry about things like their belongings. It’s your responsibility to make the transfer as happy and seamless as possible.”
7. Have the same routine
This isn’t always possible of course, but if you have a good relationship with your ex then try to have similar house rules in both homes, such as making the bed, feeding the pet, consistent bed times, not eating too much junk, etc. And if you can’t do this as a united front, then be the one that has a responsible household if the other doesn’t, which makes for a reasonable balance.
8. Find another co-parent (if you have to)
Even when you have the best intentions in co-parenting with your ex sometimes they just don’t want to play ball, and so you might be better off finding an alternative co-parent which is what Daniela*, a mum of two girls aged five and eight, did.
“When I split I had dreams about co-parenting and still being able to make decisions together about our kids, but whenever I asked him to contribute his views were so different to mine and he wasn’t putting the kids’ interests first. It was all around him and what he could schedule in, so I realised the girls were better off with me doing things without his input,” she says.
She did, however, find a way for co-parenting to work for her.
“I’ve now developed a community of people I trust like my mum and sister, who help me with my parenting decisions and my time, which is how I co-parent now. It’s a type of support that replaces my children’s dad in the parenting role (even though they still see him weekly), and that works for me and my situation.”
9. Remember, love rules
And when all else fails, come back to love. “Yes a split home can be tough on the kids, but give them the love and attention they need and everything will be fine,” says Felix. Because “children are more resilient than you realise, although never, ever get them involved in disagreements or get them to choose sides – that’s what can do damage.”
And Clare agrees: “Love rules and life is short, so don’t sweat the small stuff.”
What are your best co-parenting tips with your ex? Share your ideas with us on Facebook.
* Names have been changed due to the sensitive nature of the article.