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New Year Habits to Implement Into Your Co-Parenting Situation


A brand new year is a good opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months and figure out what you can do better in the next 12. If you are one of the many people dealing with co-parenting after a divorce or legal separation, take this time to focus on new habits you can use to improve your situation, future and everyday life. Your children and your future self will thank you.

Set Boundaries 

This is the year to set boundaries for yourself. As the expression goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Before you can take care of your children, you must take care of yourself. This can be a difficult concept to apply to your life while co-parenting, but setting boundaries is a good first step. 

Communicate your needs to your co-parent, such as when and how he or she should contact you. Setting boundaries can make you feel like you are more in control of your life, as well as improve your co-parenting relationship. Likewise, you should respect your co-parent’s boundaries. Set an example with your own actions.

Communicate Directly

Troubles with communication are common among co-parents. The last thing you may want to do is sit down and have a conversation with your ex once the divorce has been finalized. Direct and honest communication, however, can make for an easier co-parenting relationship. Do your best to communicate in a respectful manner. This will make it easier to coordinate your schedules, share information about your kids and come up with solutions that work for both of you. Do not use your children as messengers or go-betweens.

Have a Written Plan in Place

Too many arguments and disasters occur between co-parents due to misunderstandings of the custody schedule. No one – especially the kids – wants to suddenly switch households in the middle of a holiday because of a miscommunication. You can proactively prevent this issue by creating a written plan that maps out the custody schedule for the new year. Be sure to include any holidays, school breaks and special occasions. Having the schedule in black and white can prevent stressful mishaps.

Stop Venting to Your Kids 

Most co-parents are guilty of this every now and then. No matter how frustrated you get with your estranged spouse, try not to vent about it to your kids or badmouth your ex in front of them. You may be belittling your ex-spouse, but to your child, you are insulting his or her mother or father. Expressing negative emotions or saying unkind things about your co-parent could affect your child’s relationship with him or her. It can also cause feelings of guilt or anxiety if your child feels like he or she needs to choose one of you.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is not selfish – in fact, it can make you a better parent and co-parent. Implementing a few self-care routines into your schedule in the new year can come with many benefits for you and your children both. You can gain more serenity, confidence, peace of mind and clear-headedness with self-care routines such as yoga, exercise, journaling, therapy, meditation or a visit to the spa. This can make you more willing to communicate with your co-parent, as well as help reduce conflict and enable you to cope with stress more effectively.

Be Flexible

While it is important to stand up for yourself and get the parenting time that you were allotted by the court, it is equally important to be flexible with your co-parenting time, when necessary. Being willing to adjust when an unexpected situation arises, such as your child getting sick or a travel opportunity coming up, can place less stress on the kids and the family as a whole. In addition, compromising and making good joint parenting decisions can encourage your co-parent to do the same for you in the future.

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