Eight tips for co-parenting during lockdown

Data shows 2.4million families across the UK are split¹, meaning many are co-parenting through the lockdown period – a challenge nobody expected to face. 

To help you co-parent effectively and get the most out of your virtual time with your children during lockdown, we have worked with experts to reveal some top tips for success.

1. Be consistent

Dr. Michele McDowell, child psychologist, says: “Try and keep to your previous schedule as much as possible. Admittedly this won’t always be possible, as you may need to provide more support or adapt to your new schedules, but the more you can do this, the better.”

“Consistency should also be true in rules and advice around the virus. For example, both  should offer the same message about washing hands, keeping a distance and considering whether they do essential shopping with them or not should all be the same from both of you.”

2. Be ready to adapt

Dr Michele continues: “These are uncertain times and many parents may be impacted financially. Not only do parents need to be ready to adapt when it comes to the amount of time they will have with their children, and how much parenting support will be needed to suit your new schedules, but also when it comes to the finances. 

“It’s vital you work together and behave like a unit during these trying times. Adjustments may need to be made. This will call for understanding and transparency for both parents in order to avoid stress on the children.”

3. Include your children where possible

Specialists at Mum and Baby Community, BabyDoc Club, advise: “While it’s important to not discuss unnecessary things with your children during this time, including them in things where possible will help them feel secure in the situation. We’re all looking to others for information at this point, but you need to show you’re not keeping important things from them, and that you too are looking to others for answers.”

4. Take advantage of modern technology

While co-parenting without face-to-face time is never ideal, thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to get time with your children from a distance. Apps such as Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, and Google Hangouts are perfect for getting face time with the people we love during lockdown.  

When it comes to helping children with homework virtually, work as a team to get tasks up on Google documents, allowing you both to access the file. Both parents can then help with homework during a video call, and even pick up some of the marking at the end of the day. 

5. Do more with your virtual time

As well as asking them about their schoolwork and any of the activities they have done that day, why not plan ways for you to do things together, while apart?

Angela Spencer, natural parenting expert, award-winning author and founder of Babyopathy advises: “In these times of separation, make sure to share activities virtually like watching a film or playing games while on a video call. You could also record a bedtime story video for the other parent to play or sing a lullaby to play to a baby at nap time – remember it is our sensory world that defines us, so as much as possible let them see, hear and feel the other parent even though touch and hugs are on hold for a while.”

6. Ensure your messaging is the same

This time is particularly stressful for families trying to co-parent, and it’s easy to get mixed up in a disagreement about the best approach. 

Robbins and Sohl advise: “It’s important to remember you are on the same side and make a conscious effort to work together, putting aside any differences for the sake of managing the situation best for your children. Avoid having conversations about co-parenting around them and instead communicate your decisions together, to avoid them playing you off one another or becoming confused.”

Nerys Hughes, Clinical Director at Whole Child Therapy adds: “You should agree what you’re going to say to your children about the new situation and decide on a ‘new normal’ together. Children need this united front in order to feel safe, and it’s important both parents use the same language when explaining about the virus.”

7. Agree on a schedule and stick to it

Carol Robbins and Daphne Sohl, parenting coaches at The Practice, advise: “This is a stressful and confusing time for us all, but especially for children. Their usual routines are disrupted and they are no longer playing and socialising with their friends at school whilst spending much more time indoors than usual.

“Because of this, sticking to a schedule is so important. Children really benefit from knowing exactly when to expect time with both parents, so let them know when that will be.”

8. Consider your own (and each other’s) feelings too

Jane Evans, life coach and parenting expert, says: “Looking after your child’s needs is important, but it’s also vital that you have clear practical and emotional needs right now, and that you express them to your co-parenting partner. When doing this, acknowledge they will be different and support one another as best you can.” 

We hope these tips will not only help make lockdown a little easier for all the parents struggling with co-parenting from afar, but also help you make the most of your virtual time together.

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