First time mum/referee/ sleeve snot wiper to a wild toddler. Designated household bum changer. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest and unfiltered perspective.

5 Tips for Co-Parents

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A separation is never easy. It can be messy and overwhelming and stressful. I've written up my Top 5 bits of advice to aid you through this sticky transition:

1. Sharing the kids

Separation is complicated, more so when children are thrown in the mix. Deleting them off Facebook, ranting about them to your BFF and dealing with it in your own time is the preferred option, knowing you will be face to face on many occasions is not so appealing.
It can be a tough situation to find yourself in. No one relationship ends the same, some do so on good terms and others not so amicably. 

The thought of sharing the children can be difficult, particularly, if things ended sour or if it wasn't your choice to call it quits. It's important to remember, however, that you must prioritize your kid and their needs first and put your own feelings to one side. 

It's natural to feel possessive of them soon after a split, to not want to share them but what you need to keep reminding yourself is that, it's THEIR kid(s) too. 
At the end of the day, you want your children to have a concrete and strong relationship with BOTH of you. That is the essential thing to remember. 

2. Being without the kids 

Being so used to having Arthur by my side all the time, the first night without him was bluntly, unbearable. I felt uneasy and like the most crucial part of me was missing. I fretted all night; making myself anxious to the point I wondered how I could possibly survive the next 2 days without him and again every week for the next 16 or so years.

All sorts of thoughts raced through my head, "Is he being fed properly?", "Did he think I had just upped and abandoned him suddenly?", "Is he doing okay without me?" (I think it's fair to acknowledge that the only person not okay with us being temporarily apart was me!) "What if my ex escaped the country with him and I never found him again and, there I am, on some horror Channel 4 Documentary about missing kids?

It will feel strange. You will probably feel a bit lost. You will feel a contradictory sense of being ecstatic that you're free to do ANYTHING you so desire (a warm bath without kids banging on the door and tucked up in bed by 8pm) whilst simultaneously feeling your heart ache because you miss your babies. 

What do you do when you're not on the parenting shift? Who are you when you're not playing mum? It's become all you know after all.
It gets easier, I promise and as the dust settles, you'll adjust. Things will feel less rocky and more certain. You will learn to accommodate the silence.  

*FYI, it's okay to LOOK FORWARD to having a break; your respite is justifiably deserved. If you're finding the time without the kids tough or emotional, if the silence is painfully deafening, set plans or things to look forward to when they're not around. Arrange lunch with a friend, invite your girlfriends over for a movie night and good company, soak up that blissful peace and quiet and enjoy some (guilt free) YOU time.  

3. Leave your ego at home

Leave the snide comments at the door, don't drag your dirty boots of the past over the threshold. If you're not a a place where either of you feel you can have it on friendly enough terms, then keep it amicable and simple. Arrange a neutral meeting point for dropping and picking up the children. Bite your tongue, keep the topic children focused and be polite. 

I know it's hard, I know in those early days there will probably be a lot of harboured frustration, resentment and sadness, but life happens. This is your new dynamic and it will slowly settle. Give both of you time, and room.

I try extremely hard to keep things friendly between myself and my ex-partner. This is not always achievable and, rather impulsively, I'll type a ranty, pissed off text blaming him because he let Arthur nap and now he won't sleep and I have to work early the following morning and I haven't even managed to sit down yet (he's teething, it was nothing to do with the 15 minute nap at 1pm), because Arthur had another temper tantrum and it's obviously his faulty gene that has caused this (he's a toddler, tantrums are the new phase), because he won't do everything MY way (we are two different people with two very different parenting styles and I can't control every aspect of how he chooses to raise our son. I need to loosen the reigns of control.) 
Every circumstance is unique, of course, but, for me, it's important to, if not keep it friendly, then as amicably and politely as is endurable.

4. New Partners

I'll be blunt; accept it. There's no other way to offer this advice because, really, there is nothing you can do about it. People have a right to move on, to date, to search for love, to settle with someone new. This is how life works.

I know the idea of a stranger being around and spending time with your children might feel unsettling or fill you with that burning jealousy. You might feel as though you are being replaced with someone new but I promise you're not and this is just another stage to work through.

If there is no real reason why they can't be around your children (besides slight enviousness) then it is something that you will have to simply come to terms with. It might be difficult at first. It will feel uncomfortable, awkward. You don't have to be happy about it but you have to deal with it. 
Think of it this way, it's another person who is going to love your children as you do. 

5. Take it Easy

The last piece of advice I would offer would be to just go easy on yourself. Separation is tough. Whether it was your decision or you begged to try and make it work, being on either side of such a choice is never a welcomed one.
Cry, rant to your friends, crack open a bottle of wine, but be kind to yourself. You will make it through this. Don't look back, you're not heading that way.

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