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How To Handle Child Custody Schedules During the Pandemic

5 min. readbyDan VadeboncoeuronMarch 23, 2020
Contributing writer Dan Vadeboncoeur offers some advice for parents with child custody agreements on how to keep things sane and stable for children during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every part of our lives, including our child custody schedules. Here are some things to keep in mind as we weather this health crisis:

Take social distancing seriously

Social distancing doesn’t really apply to children and their parents, unless a parent is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has recently travelled and therefore must self-isolate for 14 days. However, it does apply to cousins, friends, neighbours and playdates. Yes, the kids may be bored having to stay indoors most of the day but resist the urge to send them to their grandparents' place or even let them play with other neighbourhood kids outside. School was cancelled for a reason, and letting the kids interact with other children negates the purpose.

Maintain a homeschool schedule

School has been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Schools have prepared learning packages for their students to work on over the extended break, and it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure they do it. Both parents should agree on a daily work schedule that will be the same at both homes. Routine is so important to children, and the disruption of school will already have a huge impact on their lives. Let’s try to minimize that.

Be flexible

Not everyone’s situation is the same. Some people are able to work from home during COVID-19, but many are not. There are a number of industries and workplaces being adversely affected by this pandemic, and you or your ex might find yourselves with changing schedules, working less hours, or even laid off and collecting EI.

One parent may have to take the kids more (or less) than usual because of these circumstances, or even help the other parent out financially. Remember, this is about what's best for the children. Put aside any feelings of jealousy or thoughts of “it’s not fair!” for the time being. Just do what needs to be done to make life as stable as possible for the kids.  

Be active

This is going to be tough to do, especially if the kids are getting some extra screen time these days (and let’s face it, they probably are), but parents are going to have to figure out a substitute for gym class. It’s okay to go to a park, as long as you’re not interacting with anyone else. Even a daily 20 minute walk is good physical activity. 

Take advantage of this quality time with the kids

Your kids are not going to be kids forever, and connecting with them becomes more difficult the older they get. The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to spend more time with the kids before they grow up. Play games, watch movies, or just sit around and talk! Value the extra time you have with your children.

Lastly, if you need to negotiate through this change, don’t be a hero and try to battle it out on your own.  Reach out and get the advice you need from a professional you can trust.

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