Three Ways to Be More Present Co-Parent
As a parent, you want to be present in the lives of your children in all the moments you spend together. You don't want to miss out on the most crucial of moments of their childhood and moments of growth. If you are a divorced or separated parent, there's a good chance that you have to share time with your children with their other parent. While you might not be there to witness every single time they do something new and demonstrate how much they've grown, being totally present in the moments that you are there is important.
In this recent article, Lisa Brick describes "Present Moment Awareness" as the ability to identify when your inner voice is more focused on something in which you have no way of changing. She explains that when our internal conversations include dialogue such as what you or others should have done differently, you're focusing on something you cannot change, and pondering on this idea will not help you meet the demands that your divorce requires. While she says there are times that reflection can take place, it is only after you have complied with the demands in front of you. Pay attention to what's going on in front of you, and only focus on these internal dialogues during times you have planned to reflect such as with a counselor, therapist, or divorce coach. When you set aside these thoughts when you're with your children or handling co-parenting matters, you can be more present for those special moments that could quickly pass you by if you're too busy focusing on something else.
Another example of an internal dialogue that co-parents tend to fixate on concerns the various conflicts and parenting disputes they have between each other. It's easy to be reminded of them when with your children, but only letting your mind focus on those issues takes your attention away from your children. To be a more present co-parent means that you are conscious about remaining in the moment, allowing yourself to focus on the task at hand fully. Whether it be playing with your children or resolving a scheduling snafu with your co-parent, here are three ways to be a more present co-parent.
Make time for your children. Your shared parenting schedule will tell you when your children will be spending time with you. No matter if it's a few hours or a few days in a row, keep the focus on your children during this time as best you can. Try not to plan business trips or social outings during this time if you can help it. Also, don't constantly check your cell phone or spend time doing things that don't include your children. Instead, think of some plans for fun things you can all do together like playing games, running errands together, or even doing chores together. Even if you're working out in the yard with your children, they're probably just glad to be spending time with you, and you can even turn the work into a game somehow. When you fully immerse yourself in doing things with your children during this time, you'll be able to live in the present with them.
Make time for yourself. While it's great to stay focused on your children when they're with you, you need to take a chance to focus on yourself and your needs too. For co-parents, the best time to do this is when your children are with their other parent. Even if you might be feeling overwhelmed by work or co-parenting conflicts, allow yourself to have moments where you are fully present and focused on what you need. Do something healthy that you like to do. This might be taking a long walk at lunch or after work, having dinner with some friends, working on crafts at home, or anything else you can think of that puts your mind in a more positive state and lets you clear your thoughts. Giving yourself a chance to relax and clear your head will help you to be more present in other moments that call for your complete attention.
Make time to handle co-parenting matters. Setting aside time to be present when dealing with co-parenting topics is very important. Matters concerning scheduling holiday and events, expense tracking, reimbursing shared costs and more prove to be much harder to deal with if you are not handling them before they turn into a real issue. While you may dread having to deal with your co-parent, there are ways to manage these interactions and make them easier to face. Condensing your communication down to one neutral space makes organising your information simpler, which in turn makes it easier to know what issues need to be dealt with now.
For example, the OurFamilyWizard® website is broken down into four main features which each cover important topics of co-parenting. This helps co-parents focus on working out one issue at a time. It also keeps important details from being lost among other unrelated points which so often happens when using messaging tools to communicate. While the OurFamilyWizard® message board does provide a space for parents to discuss points that cannot be conveyed using the other features, virtually everything that co-parents need to address can be done using tools in OFW®'s other features. Moreover, the OurFamilyWizard® web and mobile applications are separate from your other means of communication like email or text messaging. When you log into your OFW® account, you are better able to be a present co-parent and handle what needs to be done without being distracted by other media or unrelated topics.
Being a more present co-parent can benefit you in all areas of your life, even outside of raising your children. When you can be focused in the moment and truly participate in what's going on around you, you're able to have better interactions with others, including your children and your co-parent.