Author: Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer.
COVID-19: Guidelines For Parents Sharing Custody
Like a thief in the night, we never saw this coming. The Covid-19 pandemic is the unseen common enemy that has wreaked unprecedented havoc around the world, leaving a trail of disaster, deaths, uncertainty, and confusion. This pandemic will undoubtedly pose a challenge for parents who are already separated or going through a separation and sharing custody during COVID-19. To help parents through these trying times, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have issued the following helpful guidelines:
Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.
Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age appropriate.
BE COMPLIANT WITH COURT ORDERS AND CUSTODY AGREEMENTS.
As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.
At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.
Normally, I work outside of the house and due to class cancellations I’m home with the kids. I honestly thought the Social Distancing (as per the awesome Dr. Henshaw’s suggestion) wouldn’t get to me.
Well, I was wrong.
It was 10am on the second day when I finally broke down. I cried, a lot. I cried for the people who are sick, I cried for the people who’ve died, I cried and cried and cried. And then, I heard my kids playing and I told myself I had to stop.
There are people out there on the front line – grocery workers, nurses, doctors, police, fire, 911 operators, the list goes on and on. Like all the memes say – We can stay home – for them and for everyone.
So I made myself a list of 5 things that I can do to save my sanity.
There are so many people offering free live, or affordable online memberships. I’ve been watching two in particular myself – Fitcityguide and Metta Yoga but I would LOVE to hear if you’ve found awesome resources!
We’ve made it through January! Typically dreaded as one of the longest and worst months in Alberta- we’ve just come crashing down from Christmas, struggled to get back to routine, our wallets might be lighter, our skin is dry, there was a new moon and we’ve battled a tremendous cold snap…. SO if you are feeling particularly ragey right now, don’t feel bad! One of the best ways to release this energy and feel a little better (aside from screaming in your pantry with the door closed while you eat hidden chocolate) is to throw axes and smash things! Trust us, we’ve done it and it helps!
Where to Throw Axes and Smash things in Edmonton:
The Mamas love local and we hate grocery shopping.
So, when we learned about truLocal at the Edmonton Home and Garden show, we were intrigued!
Upon further investigation we learned that the basic idea is that they source LOCAL meat and deliver it to your door. Yes, it is subscription based BUT you choose your frequency. You can skip boxes – even pause or cancel at any time – no strings!
It was a real treat getting the box and seeing exactly where the items came from in Alberta. For example these DELISH steaks from Fort MacLeod.
Whether we like it or not, winter is here for a few more months. Getting the kids to go outside and play seems like way more work in winter especially when they are little. We’ve come up with some tips and tricks to help you get outside and take advantage of the snowy weather. Who knows… Winter may even become your favourite season!
- Dress for the weather – this means lots of layers especially for little ones. It can also mean spending some extra money on things like really good socks (wool based ones are great for warmth and moisture), boots, and mitts. Yes even for yourself! If you are cold you will not want to be outside. We live in a place where it is winter for half the year – invest in some good winter boots. It is a game changer!
- Sign up for winter activities if your budget allows – If you have put money down on a class, chances are you will show up no matter the weather. Ski lessons, snowshoeing, winter hike tours, and skating are all things you can do as a family.
- Enjoy the darkness – With winter comes shorter days but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. If you live in the city go for a drive to the country and go star gazing. Elk Island National Park, Kananaskis, or really any country road are all great options for star sighting. Don’t want to leave your backyard? Give the kids flashlights and glow sticks to take outside. You’ll have to drag them back in.
- Bring treats – Summer adventures mean ice cream and picnics but you can reward yourself for getting outside in winter too! Get a fancy hot chocolate and go for a walk or instead of finding ice cream, find a new bakery to check out.
- Book a mountain trip – Jasper in January can bring some great hotel deals and if you have a flexible work schedule try booking Jasper or Banff midweek to save some money. Winter doesn’t seem so bad when you are surrounded by Rocky Mountain beauty.
- Make a playdate – Tell the other parent they will be outside so they are dressed appropriately and let the kids build a fort, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman. Playing is more fun with a friend.
- Plan a family toboggan date – Get friends and family together to go tobogganing. Everyone brings their sleds and a thermos of hot drinks and you’re ready. If tobogganing isn’t your thing, find an outdoor rink and have a skating party!
- Use summer toys in winter – Keep the sand toys out to let them build snow-castles and dig with shovels. Bring out bubbles and watch them freeze. Use hula hoops for a winter obstacle course. Just because they are toys marketed to summer activities doesn’t mean they can’t use them year round.
Winter is not going anywhere so you may as well join in. If the kids see you out having fun, they’ll follow suit. And soon enough they will stay outside longer than the time it takes to bundle everyone up. Hopefully.