Blended families are fluid, connected, busy, and sometimes chaotic. Blended families automatically have a wide network of humans that they are connected with. You know your kids and step-kids are highly interconnected with a lot of adults, because coordinating any holiday is a herculean task!
This family structure can remind us of a better time when families grew up close to each other physically and emotionally. When communities were bonded by family ties beyond just mother-father-son-and-daughter. Blended families bring in a whole new network that connects us to a broader base of people who share a common love and investment in children and their future.
BUT – blended families were NOT set up for a global health pandemic!!!
How Do You Quarantine When Your Household Is Always Changing?
The idea of social distancing and quarantine is that you won’t have contact beyond the 2-3 other people you live with. But in step-families, moving from one house to the next exposes your child to the other parent’s new spouse and possible step-siblings. Those step-siblings are going back and forth between their two homes and their step-siblings. Already, your child’s contact has gone up from 2-3 people to 10-12 people. This is what the virus LOVES!
As the economy slowly opens and adults return to working outside of the home and kids start going back to school and daycare, this higher exposure and risk of transmission will continue to increase.
How do you keep all of the children involved physically healthy and emotionally secure? Does this increased risk justify modifying the parenting plan? Blended families are awesome at problem-solving, can they figure out the perfect solution for this too?
Can My Ex Withhold Custody Because I Have Other Kids in the House?
If you have other children in your house who live there full-time then that child is the one at risk from the children who are staying part-time. The full-time child does not pose additional risk to the children who are sharing your home.
If you have two sets of children who are going back and forth to another home, then there is the concern about taking appropriate measures to protect everyone because now, you have expanded the zone of risk exponentially.
Staying safe from this virus is all about managing risk. None of us can reduce our risk of getting Covid to zero. By socially distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, and being aware, we hope to reduce our risk as much as we can. Moving between two homes presents a certain level of risk; moving between two homes that has kids who are likewise moving between two homes presents a higher risk. That risk does not necessarily justify cutting off parenting time but this factor does need to be considered.
If There Is Someone Involved Who Is Medically Fragile BE CAREFUL!
If anyone in any household is medically vulnerable, please put their safety first. Whether that means the kids can not go over there or can’t go anywhere but there – come to a mutual decision based on protecting the vulnerable person as the first priority. This may reach further than just you and your Ex – maybe your kids’ step-siblings or those kids step-families are at risk or have a mother or father who is fragile. You might have to think outside of your household and your Ex’s if there are other children involved. This may require extra coordination.
If someone is actively sick, or if step-siblings are coming from a home where someone is sick, everyone needs to follow a strict quarantine, regardless of the parenting plan.
Think About Ending Overlap Between Step-Siblings
While step-siblings may get along great and look forward to seeing each other, if both sets of kids have two homes, think about coordinating visits so there isn’t overlap between the kids. If the household is careful to sanitize common surfaces, wash sheets, and clean off any shared toys, games, or activities, you are minimizing risk. While the adults in the household can still spread the virus, the less direct contact with the least amount of people is minimizing risk.
Switch Less Frequently for Longer Periods of Time
If you have kids in the house who are full-time residents, consider changing your parenting plan so you have your kids longer but are switching less frequently. There’s a lot of flexibility in working from home, doing school on line, and not having any outside commitments. Take advantage of it by altering your plan so that you have the kids for bigger blocks of time. Every time the kids leave and go to another home they are cross-contaminating both houses. If you can cut that in half, you have reduced the risk for you and your kids.
Remember, If Anything Happens, Your Ex Might Be Your Best Resource
Remember, it’s important to keep your kids healthy AND KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY!!! This isn’t like other times you may have been sick – family and friends really can’t come over and help take care of your child. Can you risk getting your parents sick, knowing you are positive with Covid? Do your friends want to take your child in, knowing he/she has been directly exposed to a positive case?
If you get sick, you and your child should both be in quarantine. Unfortunately, you might not be able to take care of yourself and your child if you get Covid, so have a back-up plan! Talk to your Ex now about what happens if one of YOU gets sick and make sure any little ones’ care is arranged for in advance.
Don’t be overly scared, but do be prepared. We certainly can’t plan for everything but it never hurts to think about what your options may be.
All of the Solutions Lie in Communicating!
Understand, that there are a lot of things in motion here. A lot of people are involved, all with different opinions and thoughts. Just because someone doesn’t automatically agree with the plan, doesn’t mean they are trying to be difficult or ‘get their way’ there’s just a lot of unknowns right now and nobody has the right answers.
This is also a period of high stress and anxiety and no one functions quite as well under that kind of stress. We all have to be a little bit more patient, a little bit kinder, and a little bit more flexible to get through these trying times.
If you are frustrated with how you and your Ex are communicating, let Text Your Ex help you make your conversations Polite and Productive! Text Your Ex can help iron out details in a way that reduces stress and conflict by being a neutral go-between. We take the emotion out of your conversations. Text Your Ex puts aside negative patterns that people fall into based on past wrongs and make it easier to decide what’s best for your kids in an objective and rational way. We have reduced all of our co-parenting services to $10 during the Covid crisis to help make life just a little bit easier.