Families everywhere are hunkering down together in order to stay close during the indefinite coronavirus self-quarantine. But for those that have separate households as a result of divorced parents and also share custody of children, decisions about how and where to quarantine aren’t so straightforward.
Denise Albert and Jordan Fisch, however — exes of eight years — came up with a unique solution when they decided to rent a house, away from their New York City apartments, so that their 11-year-old son, Jaylan, didn’t need to go back and forth between them. Now the two are living together as part of a modern-day quarantine setup that also includes one of their two children, Fisch’s new wife Laura Goldstein, Goldstein’s ex-husband Dan Bassichis, and two of Goldstein and Bassichis’s children.
Albert explains to Yahoo Lifestyle that the decision to all come together under one roof was a difficult one to reach. Still, during unprecedented times, it seemed to be the only option.
“We first decided to stop the back-and-forth between homes for everyone's health,” Albert says of her co-parenting arrangement with Fisch. “We both live in doorman buildings with a lot of elevator traffic and wanted to limit that for all of us. So we made the very hard decision to put an end to that and just have walks with dad. That was devastating for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Bassichis had his two daughters — Abby, 15 and Caroline, 13 — on a spring break trip in Vermont, and couldn’t fathom bringing them back to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in New York City. But instead of keeping them away from their mother, Goldstein, she and Fisch discussed going up to meet them in Vermont for the quarantine. Albert then had to make a decision about whether or not to get on board with the plan.
“I was the lone holdout,” she explains, noting that the absence of her and Fisch’s other son, Jaron, 15, who is still away at boarding school, made her reluctant. But she “decided it was in everyone's best interest,” as it was the only situation in which Jaylan would be with both of his parents.
Now, the blended family — with seven people in total — are in one house in Vermont. And although Albert says all of the adults have worked to develop a good relationship throughout the years, they’re actively trying to maintain healthy boundaries as they live as one big family.
“Everyone is really pitching in and really respectful of each other,” Albert says, as all of the adults are working from home. “We are coordinating wi-fi usage since there are so many of us.” They have even worked out separate bathroom and bedroom situations that feel most comfortable for the adults and step siblings.
More importantly, Albert says that the group is making time for activities that have allowed them all to become closer. “We are working out together using apps on my iPad. We are having family dinners and then a family activity after that — either a board game or kids doing art projects while we talk or each have our own friend FaceTime happy hours,” she says. “My ex’s step daughters are going to teach me TikTok dances soon, I can't wait.”
While the longevity of the quarantine is still uncertain, Albert, who is a journalist and co-founder of media and event company The MOMS, is certain that the decision to join together in this time was the right one. She’s even been documenting the experience by blogging about it, telling Yahoo Lifestyle that she hopes the journey inspires other families.
“I know not everyone can do this, but I sure hope even if it inspires one person, then that makes us happy because it truly is the best thing for the kids. There's nothing better than that,” she says. “We all now know we can do anything and are confident this is the beginning of even more kindness and cooperation between all. This is the best way to be divorced.”
For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.
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