There is no shortage of co-parenting tips thrown at you after divorce. Your friends, your family, the Internet, your kids’ crossing guard— everyone wants to put in two cents on how to make it work. Some of those cents are bad. Very, very bad. In my book, anything that involves doubting my ex-husband’s love for my kids or sabotaging his time with them obviously gets a big thumbs down.
When it comes to co-parenting tips, I haven’t found much in the way of what to do with my time that can help the relationship. By that I mean: What am I doing when I’m with my kids that can positively affect the co-parenting experience? Then I heard a crazy story and took away one of the best co-parenting tips that I have to pass on.
Heinrich Schliemann was a German businessman and archaeologist. He was really into the epic poet Homer. Yes, the Homer whose work you read in high school (or you at least skimmed the CliffsNotes). In the 1870s, Schliemann set his archaeological sights on the area of Turkey believed to be Troy in The Iliad. As you can imagine, archaeology looked a little different in the mid-19th century. Add to that the fact that Schliemann was reckless and what you get is nine levels of remains excavated with dynamite. Like, kablooey.
So what’s the co-parenting tip?
What does an amateur archaeologist with a penchant for ancient Greek literature and an itchy trigger finger have to do with co-parenting? Well, get this: Schliemann did find jewels that he believed once belonged to Helen of Troy. But further research revealed that these jewels were 1,000 years older than the time described in The Iliad. In archaeology speak, “older” equals “deeper.” So the actual Troy would’ve been in the levels he went all Wile E. Coyote on.
This guy literally blew up the good stuff to get to what he thought was the treasure. Do we do that, too?
We have to find joy in the simple moments instead of trying to make every weekend photo-worthy. If we do, the pressure to compete with our children’s father and those feelings of insecurity and jealousy will lessen.
We have to find joy in the simple moments instead of trying to make every weekend photo-worthy.
Believe me. I get it. When we are with our children, the pressure is on to have memorable and magical moments. When you only have them for 50 percent of the holidays and weekends, you want to get to the good stuff. But are you so focused on the memorable and magical that you’ve blasted your way through the actual treasure?
I’ve blown up the real treasure.
I know I have rushed my kids out the door, yelling at them about their shoes so we can get to Disney World (we live in Central Florida) right when gates open. Um, hello! We’ve got to make it onto that Star Wars ride before the line is as long as Star Wars itself! But in rushing them out the door, I passed on letting my 6-year-old climb in bed with me to cuddle. I took away a chance to sit on the patio with my 8-year-old, me with a coffee and him with a Minions cup of chocolate milk.
There is so much pressure to do and be all the things for our kids, especially when you factor in the “competition” of co-parenting. Yes, even the healthiest co-parents have insecure moments. So next time you feel pressure to unearth the treasure of a magical moment, think of Heinrich Schliemann. Put down the dynamite and remember that moment is right here and now.
What co-parenting tips have been helpful for you and your ex-husband?