It's been 11 years since I split up from my daughter's father, everyone told me it would get easier but it's been one hell of a rocky road co-parenting our little girl.
There have been lots of downs and not many ups, there have been threats made and frequent fallings out. I do everything with my daughter in mind and her father would probably say the same, but when you are butting heads with your ex, knowing full well this is the reason why it didn't work, it can get incredibly difficult and upsetting at times.
Everything below is my personal story (as usual) no words or advice have been copied from anywhere else, just all my own thoughts, because I wanted to share with you the things that have helped me and my ex do the very best we can.
What is co-parenting?
This is a word they use to describe separated parents working together to raise their children.
Right from day one I set down the routine, and 10 years on we are still sticking to it. My daughter lives with me, and we take it in turn with our weekends, one mine and then his and then mine etc etc. So she stays with him for 4 nights a month. Right at the beginning when she was really little, he lived round the corner from us and to make it a little easier for her he came round to tuck her into bed whenever she wanted to see him.
Now she is almost a teenager, the weekend routine is still going strong but now he does one pickup from school in the week so they can catch up.
This is just our routine, I'm sure there are lots of different routines that work for different parents, but I honestly would not be able to do this without one. Routine means consistency for all involved, I think the quicker it is put down the easier the transition will be.
Sticking to arrangements
Do not let your child down, no matter what happens. Put them at the forefront of everything you do. If you tell them you will attend their school play, be there, if you say you'll take them swimming at the weekend, do it. Thankfully my daughter is really open with me, we talk about everything and when she was younger she had so many questions, but when she would ask why daddy hadn't been to see her, I found it hard to answer that one.
It may prove difficult at some points to stick to plans and it is completely understandable, but explain your reasons to the child/ren, it's better everyone is on the same page.
These will happen, mark me when I say even the smallest of decisions you have to make together will sometimes cause a disagreement. The only thing I can say when it happens is don't take it out on the child/ren. And sometimes it's actually nice to ask what the child wants instead.
Don't always assume the other parent will be open to everything you suggest and don't assume the other will automatically do something even if you think you know them well.
If you feel things are heating up or conflict will occur, stop and come back to it later. Raising voices will get back to the children whether you think it won't and that is not a nice position for them to be in. I will hold my hands up, in the past I had gone straight in with the raised voice and got nowhere, the only person I hurt was my daughter.
One piece of great advice!
Someone once said to me right at the beginning of my break up, someone who had been through it all before, someone who I trusted: It is not a Father's right to see their child…. But IT IS a child's right to see their father. That has stuck with me now for 11 years and boy was it correct. I never set out with the intention of taking my daughter away from her father, however over the years both parties have threatened it, it's not nice. As we never involved any court orders from the beginning, at some point it has definitely been something I know I've looked into. But we have come so far, she is getting older now and able to make her own decisions, making things a little bit easier.
We got ourselves here though, and for that we have to be incredibly proud, for the love our daughter receives from both sides of the families.
Part two of my co-parenting post will be coming soon.
Has this helped you in any way?
Do you have any advice passed to you through your experiences?
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