The return of Covid-19 into the community has been unnerving for many. Auckland is now at alert level 3 and the rest of the country has been placed at alert level 2.
This second lockdown will come with its own unique challenges. However, we have learned a lot from our experience in the first lockdown. Many people have had to juggle work and home life.
Tips for co-parenting in lockdown
1. Regular calls with parents and extended family
The reversion back to level 3 may interrupt an existing parenting arrangement. Parents and caregivers should keep to existing arrangements in relation to children. The lockdown is not an excuse to change the children.
If children are not able to see the other parent in person, regular Zoom or FaceTime calls are a great way to stay in touch.
Children should try to stay in contact with extended family members, such as grandparents if they are seeing them regularly. A child's sense of time is different to an adult's, so a few weeks can seem like a lifetime.
For more information about co-parenting through this period, the Ministry of Justice has released some guidelines: https://www.justice.govt.nz/about/news-and-media/covid-19-news/guidance-for-managing-shared-custody/
2. Limit children's news intake
The constant stream of media hysteria can be overwhelming for anyone. It can help to watch the 6pm news with your children and limit any other sources.
3. Relax your rules around social media
Different parenting styles between separated parents or otherwise can cause significant issues. At lockdown, people will be more tense. Consider relaxing certain rules, such as children's use of technology.
4. Using family lawyers as a last resort
If you are currently in the process of separating, tensions will probably be running high. Try to reach agreements yourselves. The courts are only operating in a limited way and a quick remedy through the court is unlikely. Click here for a protocol of how all courts will operate at level 3.
It is still possible to resolve your disputes throughout the lockdown. Some issues may be harder to resolve without face-to-face contact. You may need to adjust your goals and timeframes during this time, as resolution takes longer.
5. Keep up your supports with family and friends
Remain in contact with friends and family but also tell them when you need support. It can be as easy as a call or a text.
There are also psychologists and counsellors available to help you remotely during this difficult time. There are also many excellent free resources available to help you manage your mental health. For example, you can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
6. Establish a routine
Many parents will have to juggle work, home, relationships and children over this period. Having a basic structure for the day will help you and your family feel more secure and relieve some stress. This could be as simple as a daily lunchtime walk.
Aim to have as many protective factors as possible for you and your children. This will include leaning on your support networks and reaching out if you need additional help. Routine and regular phone calls can be a vital way to provide stability in these uncertain times.
• Jeremy Sutton is a senior family lawyer, specialising in divorce cases where there are significant assets, including family trusts and complex business structures. www.sutton.co.nz