Co-parenting and coping on your own

While it’s one thing to have an evening away from the kids when you’re otherwise stuck with them 24/7, having an empty house when your child is staying with their other co-parent can feel incredibly lonely.

There’s no shame in admitting that it’s hard to be a co-parent, particularly because you don’t get to see your child as often as you like. No doubt, it’s difficult to be left thinking your child and your ex are probably out having the time of their lives and you’ve been left on your own forgotten about.

While it’s perfectly normal to be left feeling this way on occasion, it’s so important that you make a conscious effort to stop those negative thoughts from creeping in. One of the best ways that you can do this is, first off, by occupying your time a little better.

Indulging in too much self-pity won’t do you any good in the long run, so try to put the downsides to the back of your mind and focus your energies on making the best out of this situation. Taking this mature approach will do wonders for your own self-esteem – plus, you’ll probably end up finding that you actually enjoy having a bit of me-time here and there.

By no means am I underplaying the difficulty of this aspect of co-parenting, however. It’s going to be incredibly challenging for you to feel this absence – both your child’s absence in your life, and an acute awareness of your absence in theirs. Below you’ll find a list of ideas and handy uplifting reminders to, hopefully, go some way towards helping you along your way and enable you to come to terms with this split in your child’s time.

Focus on the positives

Co-parenting was never going to be smooth sailing, and there will certainly be moments where you feel upset and deeply frustrated with the situation.

Time, inevitably, puts a particularly stringent pressure on us, especially when it comes to feeling like you’re missing out on your child’s life. But, there are so many positives to think about. When you’re having a particularly rubbish day, desperate to see your child, focus on the endless list of things that you have in your life to feel thankful and lucky for.

You have entered into this co-parenting arrangement after leaving a relationship that didn’t make either of you happy, and now you, your ex and your child are all better off for it. Plus, even despite this, you are both able to work together to prioritise your child and their needs, and you can be proud of yourself for that.

Now, you can consider this co-parenting arrangement as an opportunity to provide your child with a far happier, lighter version of yourself. That can only be beneficial for them.

Take some time to unwind

The concept of ‘me-time’ may have a heavy association with chick flicks, but it’s increasingly being more recognised as a key way to take care of your mental health.

Taking some time to yourself is certainly going to be good for you. Make the most out of these moments to spend some time working on yourself and practicing a bit of self-care. Everyone needs these moments in their life. Plus, these practices will help you be a better co-parent (both happier and full of energy for time with your child and able to communicate with your ex in a calmer way) when your child is back with you.

While yes, of course you have a lot to offer as a parent, you also have a lot to offer the world as a person in your own right. Reconnect with your hobbies and interests again, and get back into doing what you enjoy in your free time.

By learning how to spend time by yourself at this stage, you’ll be far more strong, independent and ready to be there for your child as they get older and eventually move out themselves. If we’re looking on the brightside here, you’ll certainly never be a molly coddler to your child!

Consider the benefits that this time will bring for your child, too

The more relaxed and happy you are, this will directly translate into your child, in turn, being more relaxed and happy themselves.

Consider your child’s perspective on this matter, too – they’re going to find transitioning between two homes, and having to go for days on end without seeing one of their parents, incredibly challenging. So be strong for them. Help to make their days with you as happy as possible, and then leave them confident and assured of your love ready for their days without you.

But, remember how much it will mean to your child to be able to continue to have a relationship with both of their parents, and how invaluable this will be to their wellbeing. This affirmation that you’re doing the absolute right thing will make those days without them easier.

Normalise the idea of an evening in

It’s got a bit of a negative stigma, the idea of having an evening on your own.

People are far too judgemental or derivative of taking this time to themselves, but that’s probably just because it’s something that they’re too insecure to do themselves.

Ignore the idea that social media spouts that ‘solitude equates to loneliness’ – it isn’t true. Reminding yourself of this will also help you to gradually lessen fear of this time on your own.

Quality over quantity

When you do see your child, focus on the quality of your time together, rather than getting frustrated by the fact that the quantity isn’t as much as you’d perhaps like it to be.

For your child, the opportunity to spend high quality time with both of their parents is absolutely key to helping them grow and ensuring their happiness. And that doesn’t have any correlation with cost – it’s about connecting with them, giving them your full attention and creating special memories (so turn your phone off for the day!). Have fun together, don’t be afraid to be a bit goofy, play the games that they enjoy, and show them how much you love them.

Article Created By Josephine Walbank

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