“That can’t possibly work!” was what one of my mum’s friends said when mum told her about a trip at Christmas where we all drove to the coast together - me, my ex-husband, my mum, and the kids - to visit my in-laws.
I really hate to disappoint, but if you’re looking for drama, you’re not going to find it here.
When we decided to separate, my ex-husband (well, we’re not actually divorced yet, but this seems to be the most fitting label) and I knew that we wanted to make sure we were still a family for our kids, even if we weren’t together anymore.
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We both grew up in families where there were volatile parent relationships and nasty separations and divorces, so there was never a question about it: we were never going to put our own kids through that - or the old-fashioned “just stay together to for the kids”.
That’s not to say it was never difficult for us or for them - they were pretty distraught when we told them we were separating and it was really hard to watch, but 18-ish months down the track, when asked about the situation, they say it actually hasn’t been as bad as they thought it would be.
Due to the C-word of 2020, they had some time to adjust to the idea before we actually stopped living together.
In order to keep the split kid-centric, we went with the “nesting” way of life, where the kids remain in the family home and we do the switching in and out (week on, week off).
We also do family dinners each week on our changeover night, and coordinate each day so he’s doing school drop offs (even during my week with the kids) and I’m doing the afternoon pickups. Essentially, little has changed aside from the night-time arrangement.
The one thing that has surprised me throughout this whole change however, is that society isn’t as accepting of it.
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It almost seems more socially acceptable to have an acrimonious split where both parties hate each other and the kids are torn between homes than to actually (genuinely) get along well.