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By Sascha Ealey**

The co-parenting journey is a dynamic process that involves navigating shared responsibilities, communication, and decision-making with an ex-partner for the well-being of your child.  I know because I have been through it. And it was a journey where I learned and grew.


In 2020, it had become quite obvious that the relationship between me and my son’s father had come to its natural ending. I had questions though. How would my son react to the separation? Would my child emotionally survive the separation without scars? How would he react to being physically separated from me for weeks at a time? It was quickly decided that we would share custody as best as possible. We found that raising our son in a shared manner would require a need for frequent communication. In speaking with one another, we needed to find a way that was best if we could be as direct and civil as possible. This is not always easy when emotions are running high.


Challenges and conflicts are inevitable along the way of co-parenting, but learning to navigate the relationships with respect, empathy, and a focus on the child’s best interest is key. Here are five self-care ideas that worked for me and my son’s father. Maybe this will also work for you!


Communicate Boundaries


Clearly communicate your boundaries with your co-parent to ensure that both of you have time for self-care without intruding in each other’s personal space. Communicating boundaries when co-parenting is crucial for establishing mutual respect, promoting consistency, and ensuring the well-being of the child involved. Clear boundaries help each parent understand their roles, responsibilities, and limitations. The goal is to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts. Lastly, it fosters cooperation and promotes a healthy co-parenting dynamic, which is essential for providing security for the child.


For example, me and my son’s father outline the schedule for parenting time, including drop-off and pick-up times, as well as any changes or deviations from the regular schedule. We establish guidelines for financial responsibilities including child support, shared expenses, and financial decisions related to my son’s upbringing such as swimming classes. My hobbies are respected in the sense that I get to engage in author or self-care activities outside of my parenting responsibilities.


It’s important for me to remember that boundaries should be flexible and subject to negotiation as circumstances change over time. This is not always easy, but regular communication, mutual respect, and a willingness to adapt are key to maintaining healthy boundaries in a co-parent relationship.


Seek Support


It takes a village to raise a child. Don’t hesitate to lean on your support network, whether it’s friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate the challenges of co-parenting. Seeking support while co-parenting is essential because it can provide emotional, logistical, and practical assistance during challenging times. Ultimately, seeking support can contribute to a healthier and more effective co-parenting relationship, benefiting everyone involved. My son’s grandparents step in when they are in town, and they will pick up my son from school when he isn’t feeling well or he isn’t having a good day. It is hard for me to get a day off from work so they take him to his medical s appointments when they can. My son is a picky eater, so his grandmother gives me tips and tricks on how to trick him into eating certain things. Does it work all the time? Not really, but it’s good to know when you have support. My mom also steps in to help out when the other grandparents can’t, giving me a break to myself.


Stay Organized


If you have a child, you know how crazy schedules can get pretty quickly as they grow older! That’s why it’s so important to stay organized. Staying organized in co-parenting is especially crucial for ensuring smooth coordination and communication between parents. Keep a shared calendar or digital organizer to coordinate schedules and responsibilities with your co-parent to reduce stress and confusion. Clear organization minimizes misunderstanding by establishing guidelines and expectations for co-parenting. While structure is important, organized systems allow for flexibility when unexpected changes or challenges arise, enabling parents to adapt schedules and arrangements as needed.


Prioritize Sleep


Sleep is important in the context of co-parenting because sufficient sleep ensures that parents have the energy needed to keep up with the demands of parenting. I try to aim for consistent sleep patterns to ensure that I have the energy to cope with the demands of co-parenting. There is lots of research that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, mood swings, and reduced patience. Good sleep supports good judgment and good decision-making and ultimately good parenting!


Celebrate Achievements


Celebrating achievements sheds light on the efforts and accomplishments of both parents, fostering a sense of appreciation and validation for the contributions to the well-being of the child. Acknowledge and celebrate the progress you’ve made in your co-parenting journey, no matter how small. Reflect on your successes and be proud of your efforts to prioritize self-care amidst your responsibilities. I take myself out to brunch at least once a month to celebrate how hard I work at being a parent every single day. I have recently also treated myself to a shopping spree. Find out your way of how you want to celebrate your wins.


Ultimately, the co-parenting journey is about fostering a positive and supportive relationship that prioritizes the well-being and happiness of the child. It requires ongoing effort, patience, and a commitment to working together as a team, even when faced with obstacles or disagreements.


Over time, it can lead to a stronger bond between co-parents and a healthier environment for the child to thrive in.


 *Guest blogger Sascha Ealey is an avid storyteller and has been writing since she was seven years old! Her recent memoir, Dry Bones, is available on Amazon. Sascha received her B.A. in English from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author.


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