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Kate Gunn: 'Like Adele, I learned how to co-parent amicably'


Making it work: Adele and her ex have agreed to joint custody of their only son

Making it work: Adele and her ex have agreed to joint custody of their only son

Making it work: Adele and her ex have agreed to joint custody of their only son

There aren't too many single mums who could afford a €10 million mansion (and one for the ex down the road) but there aren't too many single mums who have had years of chart-topping success like Adele.

It would be easy to scoff at the recent news stories about the singer buying matching mansions in Beverly Hills for her and her ex. Her house is lavish and her pool is perfect, but it seems like she has her true priorities in order. With her ex-husband of seven years living just a stone's throw away, they are flying the flag of the new co-parenting couple - albeit from their Hollywood Heights.

With a fortune of $135 million, Adele could easily call in the lawyers and call the shots, but the couple have instead agreed to joint custody of their only son through mediation. And as I know only too well myself, an amicable split and a good working relationship with your child's other parent is worth so much more than money.

When I split from my husband over five years ago my children were 5, 7 and 9 and emotions were running high. But we managed to keep our relationship on good grounds through the worst of it and co-parent our children throughout the process. I would keep the children during the week, they would have one night at their dad's house, and one-on-one nights planned out with him.

As the children's needs changed we rolled with them - swapping nights and assigned days, arranging early collections and late stays. It's a constant work-in-progress and we make the decisions together with the children's needs in mind. One of the factors that allowed us to do that is that we live close by to each other - a five-minute drive or a 15-minute walk. Last night my ex came round for dinner and we all caught up on the new school term, the children's recent sporting achievements and plans for the weekend.

The children are always the focus and once they are happy, the family unit is too. Of course it's not perfect. There are times when commitments don't allow for last-minute changes, and there are nights when we prioritise ourselves, because self-care is important too. That old adage of putting your own gas mask on first rings true.

Parenting alone is still hard. There is no one to hand over to on the bad days. There's no one else to cut the grass or fix the broken light. There's no one else responsible for the bills and the forms and the admin. There's no one to download to at the end of a bad day.

But co-parenting allows you that breathing space that you need to recover. And it also allows the bond to grow with your child's other parent - a relationship that doesn't stop being one of the most important things in their life just because you don't love each other anymore.

It also allows you to share the good stuff - who else would be interested in that funny story about your son at playschool? And who else wants to hear that your little girl just rode her bike to school on her own? As parents you are the only two people in the world that care as much about these little humans as you do.

But what if you don't have millions to drop on a couple of neighbouring mansions? What if you don't have enough money for two homes? What if you're just not ready to uproot the children every week? A number of couples choose 'nesting' in these cases.

Nesting refers to when the children stay in their family home and the parents come and go on a schedule constructed themselves. So it may mean that mum stays with them Monday to Friday and then vacates for the weekend - or that they each have one week on and one week off. It's not an easy solution because you both need somewhere to stay when you're not in the family home, and there is constant bag packing and forgetting of things. But if the logistics work, and it seems to be the best move for your family, then it's certainly worth a try.

However you manage it, in most circumstances amicable co-parenting helps everyone. Your child, you, your ex, and your extended family. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.

Irish Independent