It's 7pm on Friday evening. The children were due to return from contact at 6.30. He knows Tom has to be up early tomorrow to get to karate. They probably won't have done any homework. They are almost certainly going to be full of pizza, un-bathed and with their teeth not yet done. He's ignored all my calls. Where is he? He is probably just doing this to annoy me.

It's 7pm on Friday evening. I was meant to have the kids back by 6.30 sharp. She is going to be furious. The traffic is ridiculous and Lara was sick just before we left, so I had to clear that up first. I think she just likes having things to moan about. I've bathed them and done their teeth but it probably won't meet her high standards. There's the phone again – I'll just ignore it, I can't face another earful.

Coparenting can be difficult enough for parents who are in an enduring relationship and still (mostly) like each other. Parenting effectively together when living in different households is something of a learning curve. The New Year is a good time to reflect on how things can be improved.

1. Watch out for negative attribution bias. There is a universal tendency to associate negative intent with the behaviours of others, even when no such intent exists. In the example above, the first parent assumes that the second is being inconsiderate. The second has perfectly good reasons for being late, but the lack of communication has not helped. A little latitude can go a long way.

2. Communicate. It can feel strange communicating with your former partner in the immediate aftermath of separation; however, most parents can find a form and tone of communication which works for them. This may be by way of face to face talks, phone calls, texts or emails. Sometimes direct communication is not realistic due to the particular circumstances of the relationship breakdown (eg where there is a great degree of animosity or domestic abuse). In those instances, it might be possible to pass information between each other via a third party or family App. A shared online calendar may also be helpful.

3. Talk positively about the other parent. In the majority of cases, children will continue to spend time with each parent post separation. Speaking positively about the other parent is good for a child's self esteem and will encourage them to share information without discomfort.

4. New partners can be a source of tension, but they are also a fact of life. If you intend to introduce a new partner to the children, it is best to be upfront about this with the other parent. The other parent may wish to meet the new partner to help them to feel more comfortable with the arrangement.

5. Allow children to take belongings between households so far as that is possible. Anything belonging to the child is theirs and does not therefore belong to either parent. Being able to take familiar items with them will allow a child to truly feel that they have two homes.

6. Take into account the views of your children, having regard to their age and maturity. If matters were before a court, a child would be given an opportunity to express their views, should they wish to do so. That does not mean that children's views would or should be determinative, but they may assist in generating ideas as to how dividing their time can be well managed.

7. In the event that there is a breakdown of your coparenting relationship, do not leave matters too long before obtaining legal advice. There are many options available to assist with resolving disputes as to arrangements for children. These can include mediation and child inclusive mediation, joint meetings and negotiation. These options, if used effectively, can help you to get things back on track.