Going through a divorce can bring out the worst in couples. Where there was once a promise of “till death do us part,” now there is most likely a bitter ending with emotional fallout. If you have kids and you don’t have some co-parenting strategies figured out, it will only make the situation worse.

Your world might feel like it’s falling apart, and trying to co-parent when you’re struggling to simply keep going can be overwhelming. Learning to co-parent isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. The following are are 5 strategies to help you start the co-parenting process with your ex. Remember, it’s a process and there will like be many iterations along the was as you (hopefully) figure out better ways to make it work.

5 co-parenting strategies

1. Focus on the children

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Of all the co-parenting strategies you can implement, focusing on what’s in the best interest of your children is paramount.

By maintaining focus on what’s best for your children, no matter what, you and your ex can work toward providing a peaceful home for them. Providing them loving stability and structure will help ease them through the difficult transition.

2. Communication is vital

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Some of the best co-parenting strategies include NEVER using your kids as messengers and keeping communication clear and consistent with your ex.

As you navigate through your divorce, your communication with your ex will inevitably suffer. This is just how it goes. It may be difficult to communicate with them; you may not want to talk to, or hear from them as it may likely be very emotionally taxing.

However, it’s critical that communication regarding the children is maintained no matter what. Remember, your children are not to be used as a messengers (i.e., “tell your father you have a recital on Friday.“) Communicate directly with your spouse. If conflict is high, stick to email and text if necessary.

There are plenty of co-parenting apps (many of which are free) that can help facilitate the process to make it easier and smoother, especially if there are legal ramifications at play.

3. Stick to the facts

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Great co-parenting strategies include using text or email to communicate. Be responsive and be respectful. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about your kids.

If you’re harboring resentment or have unfinished emotional business with your ex, the urge to express your emotional needs can feel overwhelming. However, make a commitment to yourself that for the sake of your children’s well-being, your keep conversations focused on their issues, not yours.

4. Be open to and embrace change

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Change is hard. But remember, refusal to accept the reality of a situation just because you don’t like it only makes things more difficult.

As you go through your divorce, there will be a great deal of change for yourself, your ex, and certainly your children. By accepting and embracing this change, you’ll reduce the stress you feel when the unexpected presents itself. And it will. It always does. Refusal to accept the reality of a situation simply because you don’t like it is emotionally immature and only creates obstacles to growth.

5. Prioritize your health

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If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s going to be a lot harder to take care of your kids. Right now they need you more than ever.

Maintaining your health is important not only for you, but for your children as well. As your kids learn to cope with the changes in your family, having a healthy, happy, rested parent will help them adjust. Your children depend on you, and you owe it to them to give them your absolute best as a parent as much as you can. Additionally, taking time to exercise and eat healthy will help you take the focus off of your divorce, and shift the focus back on to you moving forward, and making positive changes in your life.

As you go through a divorce, you are mourning a relationship lost, and the dreams you once held of your future with your family. Although your ex is no longer your partner, they are still your child’s parent, and you will always be co-parents of the children you have together. Learning to get along and communicate will bring comfort to your children as they learn to cope with their parents divorce and it will bring peace and contentment into your life.

Life is short, divorce can feel like forever. If you’re struggling to manage the difficult transition as well as figure out helpful co-parenting strategies with your ex, find an awesome therapist or life coach you like and trust to help you sort things out and get back on track.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.