How to handle lockdown as a separated parent

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The last couple of months in lockdown have been a difficult time for everyone. The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on everyone, families included. Big families, small families and separated families alike.

Separated families, in particular, have been faced with a few question marks during this time. Should children travel between households, or stay in one place? Is it irresponsible to continue sharing childcare as normal?

The guidance

Despite initial confusion when the lockdown was initially put in place, Minister Michael Grove did confirm that children under the age of 18 whose parents are separated can, in fact, move between households during the lockdown. This should be kept to a minimum but the terms of any childcare arrangement order you have still applied and should continue to be followed unless there are any health risks to consider.

A few of the lockdown restrictions were recently lifted as we enter the next phase, but leaving the house is still fairly limited. Aside from meeting up with one other person outdoors, you should not have physical contact with anyone outside of your household, as social distancing rules are still in place.

If anyone living at either yours or your ex-partner’s household is in the most at-risk group or has coronavirus symptoms, then a child should not be moved from household to household – but any changes to a usual childcare schedule should be made jointly and with good reason to keep everyone safe. This can cause tensions between separated parents but health needs to come first at the moment!

Tips for making lockdown easier on everyone

  • It’s difficult for parents not spending time with their children as normal, but it will also be hard on the children too. Disrupting their normal schedule and routine
  • Keep up contact between children and parent – video chats on FaceTime and Zoom, organise quizzes and games for the child with their other parent, get them to practice a dance routine to perform, or have the other parent read a bedtime story over FaceTime – anything to keep them involved in everyday life.
  • Share childcare between alternate weeks if possible so that each parent gets an equal amount of time with the child. Plus it keeps movement to a minimum, as specified in the guidelines. A child may feel more settled being in each place for a longer period of time.
  • Put differences aside with your ex-partner if you find it easy to argue. Now is a difficult time for everyone and it’s important to stay understanding and sympathetic to however people might be responding to the situation. Very important not to use lockdown as an excuse to stop contact.

One thing for sure though, these are unprecedented times and the recent fall our from the government’s actions has not helped matters. With lots of us experiencing something that we have never, and most likely never will again. For me, the priority is not only health but people’s mental health.

It is time for everyone to work together for the sake of our children’s health and our own.

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