It’s tough being a parent when your children are sick. Most of the time the sickness is unpredictable and comes on at short notice. That’s means a sudden change in plans so you can be home to take care of them. When I was married, my husband and I would decide who would stay home – often times it was me because it was easier for me to work from home. With divorce, it’s another important area to talk about and agree a strategy so you at least have a plan to follow.
Terry, who blogs at Scribblings of a Soccer Mom, has been divorced now for over three years and both she and her ex have remarried. Here’s how she’s things out with her ex:
My ex’s wife is a teacher. Right now she’s subbing because she took a leave of absence. She wants to work in the county we live in now, versus the one where she did work which was much further away. She’s not working full-time, so if there’s a snow day, she’s home, and more than happy for me to bring the kids over there on my way to work. If that doesn’t work, if my kids are actually sick and she has work, my ex and I will decide if they are too sick to stay home alone. If they are then we see if can he stay home, if he can’t, can I work from home? Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. If I can’t, and he can’t and his wife can’t, then my current husband will, and has. So it just depends on what’s going on in the world.
It’s very fluid depending on the day, and the circumstance, what’s going on in our works and if I am able to just go half a day and come home, or he and I have tag-teamed before, where I’ve gone in for half day while he’s been here, and switched.
When the kids are sick, it’s never a question of who’s parenting time it is, thank goodness. We’ve always just worked together to make sure the kids have the care they need. His wife, being a teacher, has summers off and watches the kids during the days, even on the days that would my parenting days. That puts me back going to my old house to get the children, which is weird but at least I know they’re safe, they’re happy.
It does make me uncomfortable sometimes, so I just think “It’s OK, they’re OK while they’re here, they’re taken care of, they’re eating healthy, they know what they’re doing, they’re not on the computer or on XBox Live all day talking to strangers” so I have to weigh that and go,
“OK, this is just part of our reality now.”
I have to look at the big picture.
The Divorce Coach Says
This is another great example of co-parenting for the benefit of your children. I love that Terry can see the bigger picture and see how allowing her ex’s wife to take on a parenting role with her children, means that she has support for sick days and vacations. That helps Terry keep her job and her financial self-sufficiency while also making sure her children have the extra TLC when they need it.
What I also take from Terry is how she and her ex have talked through these issues and agreed an overall philosophy – it’s a theme I’ve seen in much of Terry’s story. It can be very stressful to work through these issues in the early days when the emotions are still raw but knowing how your ex feels, means that you know what support you’re going to get and whether you’ll need a plan B. Remember also all these issues typically don’t get work out in a few hours. They evolve as your new co-parenting relationship evolves and they will change as your children’s needs change.
Not all ex’s are as involved as Terry’s. Another of my guests, Megan found that her ex said simply, that if it wasn’t his scheduled parenting time, he didn’t want to know. I suspect that his attitude has more to do with his pain and hurt at his ex than to his children and it’s hurtful to his children. That being said, at least Megan knows exactly where she stands. When you can’t rely on your ex for help, you know you need to have another backup plan.
Photo credit: Lauren Grace Picture Place