My Plain and Simple View on What Co-Parenting Is

Co-parenting to me is what I refer to when two parents are no longer residing in the same household, they have separated, divorced or just broke up having never been married, but they have children who bind them forever.

That is co-parenting. Two parents who have children who bind them forever. Plain -n- Simple.

All About Co-parenting, What is It?

I tend to look at co-parenting in very simple terms because after all, I have already been through 11 years of co-parenting my daughter and now about a couple years or so of co-parenting my boys. My ex husband and I resided in same household off and on after our divorce, but we aren’t here to talk about that.

So I have co-parenting for a lot of years and have already had the experiences that occur when one is attempting to share a child, remember a child is a human being, your child does not belong to you nor to the other parent.

A child is an individual with their own thoughts, their own feelings and should be felt as if those feelings are valid at all times.

Maybe the fact that I have more experience in the area of co-parenting leads me to have less tolerance for those who just cannot seem to get it right. One would think it’s not a difficult concept but then I remember back to the drama filled years of my daughter’s baby days and realize, well it takes time to get it just right. When there are hurt feelings between the ex’s that makes it more difficult to co-parent as well.

It takes a big person to be able to separate feelings of hurt from a failed relationship in order to focus on what matters after the fact; parenting your children together.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to co-parent with someone who makes personal jabs at you based on mistakes made during a relationship that is no longer a relationship. Once you two people become co-parents, all that matters is the children & raising them. A business-like arrangement will work best to allow the children to flourish in both parents homes now and into the future.

Co-parenting is all about agreeing to disagree, letting go of control; neither parent can control the rules or scenarios that occur at one household over the other, but each co-parent should encourage the children to respect both parents and respect the rules set forth in both homes.

Co-parenting is all about letting go …. being able to realize that your children may, at times, wish to see one parent over the other and that is okay. Children change almost daily and sometimes they feel the need for one parent over the other during various stages in their lives.

Co-parenting is about communication, the ability to stay on focus with kid-only topics and to work together to ensure both households, regardless of how you feel about the structure or rules set forth, are safe for the children and that if something does go wrong, both parents can discuss it without throwing personal jabs or having a screaming match over who is the better parent.

Co-parenting is about loving your children. Letting go of how the other parent may have hurt you or upset you and focusing strictly on the children.

Co-parenting isn’t easy, neither is parenting. Life isn’t easy, if it were, then there would be no real adventure, now would there be?

“Image courtesy of Rendeeplumia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

I’m Sorry, Are you a Perfect Parent? #parenting

After my children have fallen asleep and it’s time for my butt to meet the recliner, I find myself surfing Facebook. I love seeing what my family and friends have been up to. I love seeing pictures of the newborn babies, it seems so many have had a baby recently. I enjoy seeing what blog posts others have shared, and I often click over to read {if the headline captures my attention}. I recently was sucked into an article about a Dad not treating his son very nicely in a store. As I read this blog post, I found myself wondering if the post was meant more towards feeling bad for this child the blogger witnessed or shared as a means to use this scenario as a form to build their own self up. I was slightly confused as to what purpose this blog post was shared for; after reading the article I felt two things;

  • Sorry for the child to have to be treated in the way it was foretold by the blogger writing their blog post for the world to read.
  • Sad that the blogger had to use a possible one-time bad moment incident to build their own self up as a parent.

I tell you, I am not perfect and if any parent ever says they haven’t yelled at their child or responded inappropriately to something when dealing with their child, then they are either 1) an angel or 2) lying.  I feel I am the most amazing, motherly kind of mothers, but I too am guilty of yelling when it’s not necessary, responding to situations incorrectly and simply just being human. The difference is, I don’t judge another parent for making the same parental mistakes any parent can make. It’s not fair to place any parent, including your own self, up on a pedestal of perfection. That isn’t truth and it’s not real life.

Judge Less, Help More

Every Parent Faces Stressful Circumstances

Whether you are someone who runs around stressed like a chicken with their head cut off or you prefer to keep your stressful situations within the household, every parent gets stressed. No matter what type of parent you are, we are all capable of handling a certain level of chaos before we are tilting over our full meter. Again, we are humans, this is normal. When parents are facing more stressful scenarios in their life, their sleeping habits suffer. One thing every parent needs to remember is that a full nights sleep can be the difference between a nurturing patient parent or an utterly frazzled parent. Which do you prefer being?

Every Parent and Child Has Their Own Family Challenges

Whether you are the parent of a special needs child or the parent of children who have no special needs but simply enjoy life in their own childlike way; children are not easy to raise. No matter what type of child you have or what gender, they all test boundaries and limits at various stages in their lives. That is, in my opinion, how children learn to grow up and become well-rounded, responsible adults. Raising children during these challenging years can take a toll on any loving parent, again, we are human we can only handle so much on our own. Remember, everyone has their own challenges that the outside world may not see in any obvious form.

Judge Less, Help More

Extending a helping hand, or a nod with a small smile like “I know what you are feeling” can mean so much to another parent struggling to keep their child(ren) at bay in public. Even the parents with the best behaved, amazingly polite children can have days where their children can make them wonder “who are you?” Again, children will test boundaries and while they are learning to become individuals they will have moments that make you shudder and wonder why they couldn’t have attempted to show their individuality at home, behind closed doors, instead of in the middle of the supermarket for all to witness. If more people in society had compassion rather than judgement, we would live in a happier society. Next time you see a person struggling with their child(ren), try to reach out to them. You can get a feel for a parent who would respond to hands on help versus a simple “been there, hang on, it does get better” look or comment. Reach out in any way that the situation seems to call for.

Parents – DO NOT Allow Others to Make you Feel Less Human

No one can make you feel anything you don’t wish to feel, stop allowing others who judge be in control of how you feel. If someone else wants to give you glares or make snide comments about your children or parenting style, let them be the miserable ones. Learn to be quick witted, even in the most stressful of situations. A quick, snide “oh wow I didn’t know you were a perfect parent. Oh wait, maybe you don’t have children” comment can sometimes make you stay focused on your own life but make you feel good to give a snide comment to the stranger who is passing judgement. Putting someone in their place, politely, is always a good stress reliever. Do not allow others to make you feel bad for being a parent and having a child who is either special needs or just being a kid on this particular outing. Kids will be kids, and that is okay, do not let anyone make you feel less worthy as a parent or person.

Enjoy Life

Remember, we all fail from time to time. We all make bad decisions and we all live with mistakes made. It is what you do, both as a parent and a human being, with those mistakes that can build your children up and build you up. It’s best to teach children that even their parents make mistakes, maybe it will make them feel less anxious or fearful of making their own mistakes. Just remember, life is too short to do anything but enjoy life! Be happy and be the parent you are, we all parent differently, that’s what makes us a beautiful society full of different people.

“Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Relationships are Not Always Easy – That’s Love for You

When you get into a relationship, you are combining all of your prior experiences with relationships and their prior experiences, unless you are those rare few who were each others firsts. Having a real relationship is all about having communication, trust and respect for each other. If you are with someone who can communicate with you, who can understand you when you are trying to express things, it makes a relationship so much easier. Silly me, went into this relationship I am in now with this idea that once we purchased this home we would have this cute little blended family. How naive was I?

"Look a heart" he says

“Look a heart” he says

While things are amazing and we are nearing our first year together, living together is easier than had we moved into his place or my place; purchasing a family home that was all of ours made the transition into this blended family easier. I do believe. The reason is, his kids nor my kids didn’t move into the other kids space, it was all about creating a space together as a new family. My boyfriend’s children are here every other weekend while mine are here more often, as I am the residential parental unit for my three children. Our children all get along great and have their normal sibling stuff, his are older at ages 12 & 13 so having two boys who are 5 & 7 around certainly take a bit of getting used to, but Lee and I work together to keep communication open to try to teach his children that the way  my sons are is normal. Healthy, young children, and while it can be frustrating, that is the joys of being an older sibling.

Lately there have been some stressers in our lives and it’s difficult for us to overcome them. In the past year we have gone through so many dramatic issues and even went a period of time, twice, not seeing his children due to just major issues I have never had to deal with because I co-parent with two men who share our children just fine. We don’t get into personal jabs, and we know that neither parent can control what happens at the other parents home. Two homes, two rules. Like it or not. My daughter’s Dad and my two son’s Dad are relatively easy to work with. That’s not to say there are no issues, there are some but it’s not with co-parenting per say. It never affects how we share our children, they are not property, they are not meal tickets and they never, ever get treated as such.

Between dealing with the co-parenting on my boyfriend’s end, dealing with getting financially on track after purchasing a home, and blending our family together in a way that allows all five to be treated at age level; our relationship is by far not easy. With that being said, we have gone through so many trials and tribulations in the past eleven months that we feel we have what it takes to make it long term. No one can forsee the future, but in our hearts we know that at the end of the night, when our children are fast asleep we give each other a hug. It’s our time together, we talk, we watch television, we just enjoy each others company. This time is important for us because my son has a mood disorder, then the other one is hyperactive and my daughter occasionally is hormonal; that’s a lot to deal with on a regular basis on top of the other financial things, dealing with his co-parenting issues that come up from time to time and just every day normal challenges most couples have.

Heading to my Grampa's 90th Bday party

Heading to my Grampa’s 90th Bday party

Some how, after all is said and done we still can wrap our arms around each other and feel that connection, that feeling as if we are one together and never, ever can we stay  mad at each other. We talk until we have resolved things, we are willing to accept that each of us have some issues that are internal and have zero to do with the other as a person, but more so about our prior experiences we may still be working through. When asked if he would marry me today, he can honestly without thinking say yes. I am not at yes yet, I know some day I want to marry him and I will, but I feel I need a couple years together to really know for sure if we can last to end of time.

Getting married a second time is something I take very seriously, but the discussion is there and maybe next year it will happen. For now, we are so busy trying to breath from finances and raising children that adding another task to that is just insane. For now, we are just so thankful that we have each other, that we have our children who all get along great and that we have our home we purchased for our family unit.

Relationships are not always easy, we have heated debates when one feels one way and the other feels the other way; but it’s healthy debates, we are not mean, we don’t yell at each other and we resolve it amicably. I am thankful for that, haven’t had good two way communication in a relationship ever that I can remember. I am thankful today for the hard work of Lee and I, working together to remember that our external issues have nothing to do with our love for each other. You cannot let external issues/challenges break the love you have for that special man or woman in your life.

Not Just Another Time Saving Parenting Post

Any parent can tell you how much work goes into raising children. Having a career and raising a family are both time consuming and take a lot of energy. Any steps that you can take to save time should be considered. I know there are a million sites out there, telling you to do this or that, but the following tips are tried and true for me- and I’m a single mom!

Simple tasks like grocery shopping may need to be done multiple times per week- but you can save hours through the grocery delivery services that more and more stores are using. You choose the items that you want and place them in your “cart.” When you’re done you pay via credit card and set your delivery time.  If you are constantly feeling pressed for time here are a few ideas that can help you and your mate delegate duties and save time:

Take turns

I’m a single mom, and after work I have to go pick up my son from the babysitter five days a week. The traffic is bad during rush hour and sometimes my personal training sessions run a few minutes over because certain clients need more time than others. So I’m constantly rushing to get him and trying to avoid the traffic. If I had the ability to alternate days with someone, I would be able to relax some afternoons and not have to face that commute. I could go home and start cooking dinner earlier.

Since I don’t have that option I have come up with an alternative way to free up time to rest after picking my son up. On Sundays I don’t work; so I use that evening to prepare meals for the rest of the week. I make big pots of vegetables and I’ll bake an entire chicken or pot roast. We eat that night and put the rest up in containers. During the week I make sandwiches from the leftover meat or just make a couple of side dishes to go with it. Not having to prep an entire meal every night has saved me about an hour or more per day.

Outsource

Having a financial advisor or hiring someone to help you file taxes and plan for the future is helpful and saves time. In the long run it can also save you a lot of money. Making mistakes on your tax paperwork can force you to pay money back to the government instead of getting a check. Filling out the paperwork and going over receipts and things like that is pretty time consuming too. Having a trained expert can alleviate that stress, and having someone to help you make smart investments can help your family’s financial future.

Around the home

Let’s be honest with this one, cleaning up the house is not a fun thing to do but it has to be done. The responsibility of that should not fall on one person, or else it would take an entire day up depending on the size of the house. But if you are a single parent of a young child, you really don’t have much of a choice. One thing that I do is take a few minutes daily to do some light cleaning around the house to avoid buildup and the need to dedicate large chunks of time to cleaning up.

A Weakness can Build Strength

After giving birth to her second child a mother wonders if this will be the time she can start to be a stay at home mother. The first child this woman gave birth to ended up being raised by a single mom after four months of age due to a relationship break up. The mother struggled with the fact that she would not be able to stay at home with her sweet baby girl but rather head back to work while the baby girl’s father took her in and dropped her at daycare when he went to work.

This second born child to a woman who was in a relationship and about to be married proved that maybe, just maybe she could finally be the stay at home mother she had always dreamed of being. This woman’s future husband agreed in the idea behind “parents raising children” and not shipping the children off to daycare. It appeared to be a dream come true. This woman was so happy about staying home with her two children, but something unexpected would happen during her child raising days. After giving birth to a third child this woman’s husband quit his job.

The woman was in shock because the husband and her had just discussed how he couldn’t quit just yet because she hadn’t built up her online income and they were not going to be able to raise three children on direct sales and newly created blog revenue alone, at least not just yet. Due to her husband making this decision on his own, the mother found herself thrown into creating an online business with multiple streams of revenue as a way to survive because she was not going to live on state assistance due to her husband making a poor decision and refusing to be a stay at home Dad long term.

As this woman juggled building her business and her blog she became a different person, not bitter, but different. It seems the negative decision her husband had made truly created this powerful human being who had so many optimistic thoughts and learned how to fight to survive on her own even though she was married. This woman changed and she changed in a way that no longer would mesh with her husband, she did forgive her husband for his decision because after all we are all human but she never truly forgot.

The struggles this woman went through raising three children, breastfeeding the youngest and trying to keep a steady income to support the family didn’t create a huge bitter woman but it did make her put a wall up and refuse to lean on another person again. Although some would call her bitter, she saw it as knowing what works for her. All through this woman’s life there has been one person she could count on 100% and that was herself. Why would this woman ever put herself into a situation where she had to depend on another person if her own husband wasn’t one who could be counted on?

Life lessons are learned in funny ways and sometimes we find our strength in other people’s weaknesses. This strength can help us rise to the situation and face all obstacles with a smile!

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