• Our 50/50 co-parenting agreement means the children alternate between the two homes every other week. (Digital Vision)Source: Digital Vision
As co-parents we’re following the same rules and guidelines so our children can continue moving between houses safely.
By
By Lucy Good, as told to Elli Jacobs

16 Apr 2020 - 9:51 AM  UPDATED 21 Apr 2020 - 11:26 AM

For the past eight years me and my partner have been co-parenting our two girls Amber 16 and Ruby 14.

Our 50/50 co-parenting agreement means the children alternate between the two homes every other week.

It’s been reasonably amicable from the beginning with some challenges along the way.

My ex-husband has (or should I say had) a charter bus business on the Sunshine Coast which was thriving.

As COVID-19 hit Australia beginning of March, he was providing transport for a local triathlon which made the decision to go ahead.

Although it was his parenting week, before the event he called and suggested our children stay with me for an extra week following the event ‘just in case’.

Of course, I agreed, and straight after the triathlon he became quite ill. He presented the two main symptoms of COVID-19 – a fever and a cough.

He presented the two main symptoms of COVID-19 – a fever and a cough.

Our local surgery tested him and on return home he received an email to notify him that someone on the triathlon had tested positive. He immediately self-isolated.

While waiting for the results our eldest daughter, Amber, spent her own money buying him groceries and cooked him two beautiful dinners – she’s training to be a chef, which we placed on the step outside his house.

He has a balcony on the front of his house, and we laughed that he could wave down on us like the pope or the queen!

Surprisingly under the circumstances, his test came back negative of COVID-19. It was just a common flu and after three weeks he returned to full health.

He is no longer at risk and we’re both practicing social distancing and have self-isolated. We’re completely united in taking this seriously and protecting not only our kids but the community around us.

We’re completely united in taking this seriously and protecting not only our kids but the community around us.

Our families are in the UK so we both have a different and scary insight into this with reports from our loved ones over there.

As co-parents we’re following the same rules and guidelines so our children can continue moving between houses safely. The best way we’re doing this is by adhering to the government guidelines. This gives the girls a change of scenery rather than being stuck in one home so in a way it gives them an advantage.

At this point I don’t think we’re going to make any changes to our coparenting agreement. We may have to change things if one of us does become ill or accidentally comes into contact with someone that has the virus. It’s really a day to day thing and the most important is that we keep our communication as open as possible.

My greatest challenge is to make my daughters understand the importance of self-isolation. My youngest Ruby seems to be doing ok but Amber which is in year 11 is finding it challenging, more so in the beginning.

At first and while the schools were still open it was really hard to keep her at home.

Everything changed so suddenly for her. She had a job she really worked hard at and loved and excelled at school including enjoying a great social life and seemingly out of nowhere it’s been taken away.

I really encouraged her to self-isolate early on, but it was difficult to explain to her why, when other parents were allowing their teens to go out and there were mixed messages going around on social media on what we should do.

We live in Noosa near the beach and everything here still seems normal. We don’t know anyone that is ill so it’s equally tough for me to get my head around how this pandemic works and present the facts to her.

What I said every time she questioned me was: “What is happening now is going to go down in history and we’re going to look back at this time and we need to know that we did the very best we could.”

Coupled with videos I keep sending to help her understand now she does get it and wants to stay home and do her bit.

To make it easier I wish that teens could receive clear messages from people or celebrities they respect and look up to. It’s hard for them as they’re more gullible and they believe what they want.

Overall, our priority as co-parents is to respect one another, communicate, give a little here and there and be flexible during this time as sticking to the pre-existing parenting arrangement may not be always possible.

We’ve also put our kids needs and wants above ours and have focused on that to make sure we find ways to keep them happy.

I have already suggested we have a take-out meal once a week, watch movies on certain nights, do an online yoga class and cook together which we both love to do.

I have already suggested we have a take-out meal once a week, watch movies on certain nights, do an online yoga class and cook together which we both love to do.

We’re not putting routines on anything right now. But I recognise that we may need to so in the future if this goes on for longer. At this point in time, we’re just taking stock, being kind to ourselves and each other and I allow them to be online and communicate with their friends for as long as they need to.

I believe the kids will be ready to put a routine on things once they become bored. So, it’s better to wait and at some point, they’ll be more receptive to it.

For now, we’re taking one day at time and I’m constantly reaching out to them.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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