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Parenting, divorce, and the pandemic: Tips to prepare for fall

Parenting is difficult in the best of times. Add in a pandemic, and parents throughout the world were put to the test. Disagreements about sleeping schedules, eating habits, school needs, and extracurricular activities were all magnified as the world went into lockdown. Parents that were co-parenting after divorce had to revisit their parenting plans and, in some cases, make changes to better reflect their needs while dealing with a national shut-down.

Things are starting to get back to normal and schools throughout the country are announcing back to school plans. In Texas, for example, schools are planning on children returning to in-person learning this fall. In an effort to safeguard children, schools are implementing various protocol. These can include masking, physical distancing, and special cleaning and sanitizing practices.

These changes may leave parents wondering how to navigate yet another uncertain school year. Questions remain about the potential impact of a new variant and the potential for future shutdowns. Divorced parents can help better ensure they navigate these uncertain times successfully by adjusting their parenting plan in a way that works for them. The following tips can help:

Tip #1: Best interest of the child.

First and foremost, think of the best interest of the child. This is the standard the courts use when divorcing parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, and it is the question they ask themselves for good reason. At the end of the day, the parenting plan is meant to provide the child with the best environment. Take a moment to step back and ask yourself the same question before moving forward. What environment will best help the children to grow, both physically and mentally?

Tip #2: Flexibility.

We can only control so much. Take a breath, know that there are some things — like a pandemic — that we simply cannot control. What we can control is how we react. Put together various options and be prepared to listen to the other parent’s thoughts. The best environment for our children may be going back to school, but if it shuts down again what is the backup plan? Having different contingency plans now can help reduce stress later.

Tip #3: Fairness.

If one parent gets more time with the child or children due to the unforeseen consequences of the pandemic, consider allowing the parent that missed out some extra time in the future. This could be good for everyone’s mental health.

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