By Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, Esq.
New Jersey has entered Phase II of its reopening, and more and more people will be venturing out of quarantine, into what’s being called ‘the new normal’: six feet apart, outdoors, wearing a mask, etc. We urge you to follow CDC guidelines and take the necessary precautions, but also to enjoy some summer sunshine (for more on this, please see my previous blog post: https://lmllawyers.com/save-the-pandemic-summer-from-being-a-total-bummer/).
Part of summertime is, of course, celebrating our country over the Fourth of July weekend. With the global pandemic still in effect, and each state at a different timeframe in their re-openings, we realize some of the July 4th weekend may look different: postponed fireworks, so as not to attract large gatherings; a car parade instead of a traditional parade; and smaller grill-outs that may include ‘doubling your bubble’ or only taking your mask off to eat.
You can still, of course, celebrate the Fourth, and if you have children, and are in the middle of a divorce, or just in a rocky place in your relationship (heightened by quarantine!), here are three tips on how to celebrate nevertheless:
1. Consult with your co-parent/spouse/partner. Now more than ever keeping the lines of communication open are vital. It’s important to know what your co-parent is comfortable with: going to a public beach, and staying socially distanced? having a child’s best friend over to use the pool? venturing out to a theme park? Everyone’s going to have different opinions as to what’s safe to do this summer, and it’s best to consult with your co-parent, and respect his or her level of comfort.
2. Be creative! Use this odd time to find new ways to celebrate July 4th, and even educate your children about the history of America. That could mean writing and performing a short show in which your children play Uncle Sam, George Washington and Betsy Ross, or leaving it to the professionals and firing up Disney+, popping the popcorn, and settling in with your family for a quarantine-watch of the mega-smash, original cast Broadway musical Hamilton on Friday, July 3rd. Either way if you’re not yet comfortable gathering with folks outside your bubble— or if rain dampens your socially-distanced, outside celebration— there are plenty of innovative ways to celebrate the founding of the country.
3. Remember the ‘me’ time! Our Megan Hodes has written before on the importance of ‘me’ time as it relates to co-parenting (https://lmllawyers.com/good-co-parenting-means-making-me-time/), and it’s even more relevant both during this global pandemic, and when a holiday weekend comes up during ‘the new normal.’ Everyone’s given to feelings of stress, exhaustion and overwhelmingness, and even though it can be tough to carve out just one hour to soak in a bath, take a walk, get lost in a novel or have a glass of wine and just sit, it’s more important than ever to take some ‘me’ time. Not just for you, but for your mental health, for your ability— and patience— to parent, and for your ability to really relate to your co-parent.
Everyone at our firm wishes you a safe, healthy, fun and Happy 4th of July weekend!
A version of this article already appeared on my blog, https://lmllawyers.com/category/lets-talk-about-divorce/
Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, Esq. is the co-Chair of the Family Law Department at the New Jersey-based law firm of Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC (www.lmllawyers.com). Madeline is a Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. She is a prior President of the national American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, as well as past President of its New Jersey Chapter, and past Chair of the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association.