Navigating a blended family is never simple, even under the best of circumstances. And my blended family situation is about as good as it gets. We have gotten into a groove maneuvering the every other day plus every other weekend 50-50 custody arrangement my husband has with his ex-wife for my stepdaughter. But the recent events of the COVID 19 global pandemic have sent everyone’s schedules and lives into complete upheaval. Events and activities being cancelled and with state governments suggesting (like mine in Pennsylvania) and sometimes even mandating stay-at-home orders.
I am seven months pregnant. I have a 5-year-old and an 18-month-old at home. To say this situation is nerve-wracking (especially for an anxious person) is an understatement. I’ve been fortunate that since last week, myself and my two youngest have not left the house (days before it was even encouraged). My husband hasn’t really gone anywhere either.
As my stepdaughter was preparing to head back to her moms then come back to our house one day later, my anxiety started to bubble up. I know we haven’t been anywhere, our circle of anyone we have connected with in the past eight days is just our immediate family. But what about the other side? What if we get sick, pass it to my stepdaughter then to her other side? Or vice versa? I frantically started Googling what other people in blended families were doing during this extreme social distancing. I couldn’t find a thing.
I was up in the middle of the night (maybe it was Coronavirus worries, pregnancy insomnia or both) scrolling through Instagram, I found this very topic addressed in a TODAY Parents article, “Quarantines and custody agreements: How do divorced parents handle coronavirus?” I felt a relief that I wasn’t the only one grappling with these questions. It seems like most are keeping their schedules as normal as possible, prepared for the child to stay at one home if anyone starts exhibiting symptoms. In these unpredictable times, keeping consistency may be beneficial for a child’s mental well-being. However, the possible health risks continued to make me uneasy.
The morning my stepdaughter was going back to her moms, I still felt the need to call the pediatrician’s office to see if they had any advice. I was the first person to ask the question so the nurse on the phone consulted with the doctor. The advised that we limit back and forth as much as possible. If any symptoms appear in anyone, my stepdaughter should remain in place. Even until then, if choosing one home to stay at to wait it out is a possibility, that would be ideal.
My stepdaughter when back to her moms and, although it is our weekend and these decisions are not easy, is planning to stay for at least four days – all of us recognizing this situation is fluid and priority is our children’s health and safety rather than some strict arrangement or schedule. For that, and many other things right now amongst all this chaos, I feel very fortunate.