Separation is difficult at any time. But during the current lockdown, addition stress and complications are being compounded. Emotions will run high. Very few people recognise the impact a relationship breakdown may have on their mental health. It is important to make sure that you are taking care of yourself so you are able to deal not only with these everyday stresses, but also potentially creating a new routine for you and your children and going through the legal process.
1. Talk to someone
Talk to someoneIf you are considering separating, it may help in the first instance to talk to someone independent. You can seek counselling from the charity, Relate. This may help your marriage or can offer support if you do decide to separate. Relate are available during Coronavirus and can offer support remotely, with telephone, live chat and messaging options available.
If you or your children are struggling with your feelings and recognise you need additional help, you should contact your GP to discuss your concerns and any treatment you may require to assist you through this difficult time.
If you do decide to proceed with a separation, counselling can help you accept your feelings and begin to move forward. Silk Family Law can provide details of services you can approach, including online and telephone delivery options – contact us for a list of recommended providers.
2. Strengthen your networks
It is important to have a support network of family and friends to help you through your separation. Keeping in touch with the people you care about and talking to them regularly can be very helpful and lessen the feelings of isolation and loneliness during this difficult period. During the lockdown, try to stay in contact with people outside your home using devices and media. Ideally, find a quiet room or outdoor space where you can talk comfortably without being overheard. Encourage your children to contact their grandparents or other family members so they can talk about their feelings to someone outside of your home.
3. Talk to your children
Aside from seeing their parents separate, children are already going through a very tough time having their routines interrupted, not going to school and missing friends. Try to talk to your children about how they are feeling and encourage them to approach you if they are feeling worried or anxious. Make yourself available and listen to them, despite it being difficult to hear how they are responding to your separation.
4. Government advice for separated parents during COVID19 restrictions
Tensions may become high when you are locked down in the same home as your spouse and you are separating. The Government guidelines allow for you or your spouse to leave the family home after an argument for a “cooling-off period” and move to another address for several days. This could give you both some much needed space.
Where you are already living apart from your spouse and you have arrangements in place for your children to spend time with both parents, you are permitted to move children between the two homes. In addition to being beneficial to the children, you may find having some time alone is good for you and allows you to focus on your wellbeing.
If someone in either household is isolating and children cannot move between the homes, you should encourage the children to have contact by telephone or video chat with the other parent to maintain contact until they are able to visit again.
Read my colleague Nia Jameson’s blog on managing shared childcare during Coronavirus.
5. Looking after your mental health during lockdown
Here are some practical tips and suggestions to help you look after your mental health during lockdown:
- Talk to your children, and spouse if you able to, about how to share the space in your home and who is responsible for certain chores
- Enjoy the time you are spending at home with your children
- Do some exercise indoors and get outdoors for some exercise once a day
- Make time for yourself to do something you enjoy; read a book, cook your favourite meal, listen to music
- Try to tackle jobs around the house and garden you have not had time to do before lockdown
- If you are working from home, stay in touch with your work colleagues
- If you gave been furloughed, you could look to develop a new skill such as learning a new language
- Be kind to yourself. Everyone is struggling to juggle, work, home schooling, family time, housework, and dealing with the confinement and restrictions.
Of course, everyone will have different suggestions to help them cope throughout this time, but I hope this helps you get going if you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start.
If you are considering separating, it is important to seek advice at an early stage so you are aware of all of your options.
Silk Family Law is open and our specialist solicitors are available remotely to discuss your options surrounding your separation, including divorce, financial and children matters. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0191 495 7189.