My ex and I usually fight about a lot of unnecessary things, but the pandemic has forced us to put aside our differences. I know that is easier said than done for some co-parenting relationships because the two of us do not always get along.
My children’s father and I have been separated for more than ten years, and sometimes, we have good moments when we’re all rainbows and butterflies. Other times, it’s more like Game of Thrones, where all we do is challenge each other and battle until someone is defeated. But, when the news broke that schools would be shut down and children would be learning online at home, we immediately went into planning mode.
Together we agreed to temporarily dismiss our current custody agreement until this pandemic is over.
How Our Routine Has Changed During Shelter-in-Place
We agreed not to move our children back and forth between homes until the Shelter-in-Place order was removed. Since their primary residence is with me, that is where they are staying for now. But that does not mean they don’t see their father. In fact, we decided we would extend his time with the children beyond the usual custody agreement we have. I allowed him to move into my place, and my children spent the first two weeks of school shutdown with him.
Knowing our personalities and history, we both agreed we could not be under the same roof at the same time. I removed myself completely and relocated to my family cabin during those two weeks. Since their dad started online learning with the children, I took no part in the planning. When I returned in two weeks, I would follow their routine to ensure consistency. We agreed to switch off every two weeks. The children would be the consistent anchor and kept in my residence, not to be allowed anywhere else until this pandemic ends.
Our Homeschool Schedule
We put our preteens on a traditional work schedule:
- 9 a.m. Online learning start time
- 1 p.m. Lunch and free time
- 2 p.m. Online learning continues
- 5:30 p.m. End of online learning and outdoor time; walks, skateboarding, or scootering around the neighborhood block for an hour
- 7:00 pm: Dinner time
- 10:00 pm: Bedtime
We do our best to always stick to these time frames on weekdays, and on weekends they do whatever they want, which usually means spending time on their devices.
What I Have Learned During Quarantine
I have learned that my children’s father is a better homeschool teacher than I am. He’s also a better lunch lady than I am.
He transitioned easily, since, after losing his job because of the pandemic, he did not have to worry about work. Because of this advantage, he was able to build a strong daily routine for them. It was harder for me as I had to find a way to balance working from home and homeschooling our two preteens. But, as the primary financial provider, I was used to juggling multiple responsibilities.
We both learned what works for one child may not work for the other. My daughter’s transition to online learning was very simple. Her teachers were already using Google Drive and having her do assignments online. Her teachers transitioned easily from the school environment to the online environment and naturally, my daughter excelled. We did not have to micromanage her daily assignments. In fact, she has gone from a C in math to an A- during the quarantine.
My son, on the other hand, had no online learning experience other than math games assigned randomly by his teacher. His transition, as well as his teacher’s transition into online learning, was challenging. He needed to be micromanaged until he could be trusted to focus on his assignments without being distracted. He received a lot of Mama’s yelling for playing games on his laptop instead of completing a research assignment.
Is the Pandemic Over Yet?
I am so over this. I have stopped counting how long it has been since we have been in quarantine. But as much as I want to get back to normalcy, I am also grateful for the fact that my co-parenting situation has gotten better since this lockdown. I’ve learned that some battles are not worth the energy or the time.
The current situation has pushed the two of us to acknowledge and accept the fact that neither of us is good at ALL parenting duties. We each have strengths and weaknesses and that’s OK.
We are no longer fighting against each other for the best parent award but instead, we are fighting together for the healthiest situation for our children, which means that we have to work as a team.