When parents live separately (usually because of separation or divorce), getting both on the same page is extremely important; successful parenting involves consistency, after all.
Once custody is worked out, the next question is how two different parents in two different households can be consistent co-parents. The key, as in all things, is communication. Luckily, we’re in the age of the smartphone and other right-at-your-fingertips gadgets, which make communication easier than ever. We gathered these tips from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Education, which can help make co-parenting a successful experience.
Tip 1: Accentuate the Positive
When discussing your child with a co-parent, you may tend to fixate on the things that don’t go so goldenly. But don’t forget to tell your co-parent about the great steps your child is making that he or she was unable to witness. Drop him or her a text highlighting something your child did well: “Madeline is getting our animal sounds game. In the car, she saw a cow on the road and said, ‘Moo.’”
Tip 2: It’s Time for a Chat
Children crave time with both parents every day, so set aside time to call your co-parent, maybe at bedtime, or even schedule a routine time for a video chat. A consistent chance to engage with both parents every day keeps the parenting unit unified, even in separate households.
Tip 3: Establish Universal Chores
Because routine chores are so great for children (yes, even toddlers!), you can keep them consistent across households by working out a shared chore list. With the advent of sharable virtual calendars and to-do lists that both parents can add to, this is simple to do. These tools can also help with scheduling other things, like doctor appointments or enrichment classes.
Tip 4: Keep Everyone in the Know
Whether it’s a nanny, daycare, preschool, or doctor, other people who care for your child will need to communicate with both parents. Set up email or text groups for this communication so that both parents receive the same messages.
Tip 5: Don’t Miss a Moment
It’s Dad’s birthday AND it’s Mother’s Day. At some point, your child will be wanted in two different places for celebrations and other special events. You can set up a video chat with the absent parent, but your child still misses out on the atmosphere of the other event. Plop your camera phone in one spot in the room to take time-lapse photos of all the comings and goings. Then easily assemble a photo collage to share with your child.
You’re reading this on the same technology we’re promoting in this article, so you’re already in the game!