13 years ago, we were sitting outside of a Starbucks in Tampa, Florida with more questions than answer flooding our brains. Without any expectations or knowledge of what was going to happen, we both realized that it was time to end our marriage and clean up the mess we made. We amicably agreed to leave the past behind and move forward, but the only problem was neither of had a roadmap for the path we were about to go down. We had never been there, and we didn’t know anyone who had, so it was going to be a challenge for us to figure out what to do, what not to do and where to go. We both wanted to make our son’s life as normal as possible and not punish him for our decisions and actions. The only way we were able to achieved that was to make decisions based on what was best for Asher, not anyone else. Fast forward to the global pandemic, where once again, we were forced to navigate uncharted waters, but this time with a little more knowledge.
In March, we made a “family’ decision to self-quarantine. Just like the divorce path we took earlier, we’d never been through anything like this before and there was no roadmap. What we did know was that we were not going to be able to go at this alone without communication and a consistent set of rules between both our houses. Our houses are crafted uniquely with Mom & Step-Dad in one house and Dad, Step-Mom, two younger siblings in the other and Asher in both. He spends equal time between our houses, so having open lines of communication to get both families through this was a must. We knew in the beginning that consistency was key. Although we were physically living in separate houses, we agreed that the behaviors of everyone had to be the same. That meant no outside help, no visitors, no friends and our son only to travel between our two houses (which luckily are only a few houses apart).
For our schedules, we decided to stay on the normal five days on and five days off to be consistent. What did change was the fact that Asher would attend school virtually and do all of his assignments at Nikki’s regardless of whose “turn” it was. We made this decision because it’s easier for Asher to go to school at Nikki’s since there is less distractions, like his 4-year old brother and 7-year old sister thinking their big brother is a superhero and NEVER leave him alone. This dynamic, although adorable, is not an ideal environment for school. Instead of Ben insisting he stay at his house because it was HIS time, he did what was best for Asher.
This communication and cooperation during the pandemic is a microcosm of Our Happy Divorce. The way we handled this is the same way we handle every co-parenting decision we’ve ever made and continue to make. There are ground rules for us as well as our son. The same way we make a decision is all aspects of our life is 2+2 has to equal 4 for Asher, regardless of how far away from 4 the answer to the equation is for us. It has been our mission to make Asher’s life as normal and happy as possible, as well as ours.
We haven’t let our most challenging and growing years stop us, so we certainly wouldn’t let a pandemic either!
This piece was co-written by Nikki’s ex-husband, Ben Heldfond. They are co-founders of Our Happy Divorce, a service that offers guidance on creating a post-divorce happy, modern family and Authors of “Our Happy Divorce – How Ending Our Marriage Brought Us Together.”