Navigating Joint Custody and Father’s Day

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It might take a few months, or even longer, but parents and kids will get used to a new normal after divorce. The kids will become accustomed to spending time with one parent at a time, and you and your ex will adjust too. But even when you sort out the logistics of everyday life post-divorce, certain holidays may always be a source of tension. With Father’s Day and Mother’s Day approaching, talking now about what will happen on these special days is an important part of making them run smoothly.

Joint Custody and Father’s Day: Potential Pitfalls

Especially if this coming Father’s Day is your family’s first since the divorce, having a happy and loving day with your kids probably feels really important. Hopefully that’s exactly what will happen, but it’s important to be mindful about all the potential obstacles that your family will have to navigate.

First, there’s the legal side. Your custody agreement will factor into how you handle scheduling these holidays. It’s not just up to your and your ex to decide what happens, so check that agreement first.

Next, think about your expectations for this special day. Father’s Day probably seems even more important now that you’re not with the kids every day, but expecting a perfect day of family bonding is probably not realistic. Your kids might be grumpy, the weather could be bad – any number of things could throw a wrench in the plans. Stay flexible.

And if you’re not able to get custody for Father’s Day, think ahead about what you can do on that day instead. Plan a full slate of fun and distracting activities with childless friends, or opt for a low-key day at home if you think seeing families out and about will be too hard.

Divorced parents deal with these issues around Mother’s Day, too. We’re focused on joint custody and Father’s Day today, but these same pitfalls and strategies are just as relevant to moms who aren’t scheduled to have custody on Mother’s Day.

Talking to Your Ex About Holidays

Who gets custody on a special holiday is a hotly contested issue between some divorced parents. This is an emotional issue, and being separated from your kids on a day when you’re supposed to be together can cause tension between your and your ex. It’s imperative that you don’t let that happen, as adding conflict to your relationship will hurt the kids.

Luckily, you can both understand the significance of these parent-specific holidays. One good strategy to get access to your kids when they’re scheduled to be with their other parent is to offer an even exchange. If the kids can be with you on Father’s Day, your ex can have them on Mother’s Day or on another important date of her choosing.

If your relationship with your co-parent is really strained, put your request in an email or ask a trusted family member to serve as a go between. Your ex still disagrees to your request for custody that day? Suggest the whole family gets together for a meal so you can at least see the kids for part of the day.

Talking to Your Kids About Holidays

If your discussions about joint custody and Father’s Day go nowhere, you’ll have to prepare yourself and your kids to be apart on this day. The best strategy? Ignore what the calendar says and establish your own [Last Name] Family Father’s Day, on a weekend when you have custody.

Your kids might ask about why they won’t see you on Father’s Day, especially when they notice their friends are spending the day with their dads. Be honest and sympathetic, making sure not to blame your ex for the scheduling. Say something like, “I’m disappointed too, but it’s your weekend to be with mom and it’s important that we stick to that agreement. We’re going to celebrate on [date] instead!” If possible, make a plan to video chat with the kids on Father’s Day so you can share a meal or read a book together, even if you can’t be physically together.

Joint Custody And Mother’s Day: How To Manage If It’s Daddy’s Turn?

mother's day

Mother’s Day and joint custody present a difficult challenge — if it’s Daddy’s turn, what’s the best way to handle the holiday?

If you think of Mother’s Day as an emotional holiday, you’re not alone. Splitting custody of children is not easy — especially when holidays roll around — but there are ways to make the process smoother.

Check Your Parenting Agreement First

First, brush up on the basics. Check your parenting plan agreement and see if the arrangement includes an exception for Mother’s Day. Most parenting plans will include clauses for special days (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on).

If you have one, you’re in luck: custody is straightforward when its spelled out in a document. Even if it’s Daddy’s turn for custody, a Mother’s Day exception clause will grant possession for the holiday.

It’s Not Always That Easy

Of course, life is not always so easy. If you check your joint custody agreement and find no exception for Mother’s Day, the best step is to open a dialogue with your former spouse. Take the time to talk to your child’s other parent and see if you can come to an agreeable solution.

At its core, asking for custody over the holiday is a bit like asking for a favor. The father is not legally required to oblige you — keep that in mind! Present your case in a friendly, agreeable manner and try to keep emotions out of it. The moment anger comes into play, the chances of coming to an agreement vanish.

You Might Have Legal Remedies

Even if your parenting agreement does not allow for Mother’s Day custody, check your local state laws and regulations. Some states, like Texas, have statewide provisions that grant mothers possession during the holiday. It’s worth a quick check or phone call with your lawyer to double-check!

Alternatively, you could seek to modify your existing parenting agreement. You can do this by speaking to your lawyer about changing the custodial agreement. This is a big step — and not an easy one — so try to think of it as a last resort. It’s always better to come to an amicable, mutually agreeable solution with your former partner.

What Not To Do

It goes without saying, but always abide by the rules of your parenting agreement. If visitation or custody is not granted during Mother’s Day, stick with the letter of the law. Likewise, if your former partner violates the custody agreement, remember the law is on your side.

A Few Tips For Reaching An Agreement On Joint Custody

Depending on your relationship with the father, reaching an agreement regarding Mother’s Day might be a tall order.

Offer a bit of quid pro quo. Mother’s Day custody in exchange for Father’s Day may work as a compromise. Alternatively, depending on the specifics of your custody agreement, you may be able to ‘swap’ visitation days. In general, try to be accommodating and polite — the more you are willing to work with your former partner, the better.

Offering “make up” weekends is a great way to garner some goodwill with a former spouse as well. Going out of your way to show that your child values time with both parents will be much appreciated!

It’s All About Communication

Mother’s Day is a time when emotions run high and tempers may flare. Dealing with joint custody issues is not easy — even if we wish it were — so take the time to communicate.

See if it’s possible to swap custody days to make room for Mother’s Day. Alternatively, consider offering some “make up” days to sweeten the deal. You may also consider modifying your parenting agreement to include possession on specific holidays.

Whatever path you take, open communication with your child’s other parent is key.

5 Things To Embrace Easter With Kids

Easter with kids

Easter comes at the right time – spring is in full swing, the weather turns for the better, and there’s plenty of fun to be had. If you’re debating how to spend Easter with kids, don’t worry – here are five great activities to consider.

1: Dyeing Eggs for Easter

It’s a classic and for good reason – it’s fun, easy, and makes for great memories. Even better, it doesn’t take much in the way of materials or preparation. Just grab some eggs, your choice of egg dye (many companies sell Easter-specific egg kits), and you’re off to the races.

Of course, egg dyeing can go well beyond a simple color change. Test the limits of your kid’s creativity – challenge them to decorate an egg as their favorite superhero, for example. Glitter, sprinkles, paint, and markers all work to make your eggs really stand out.

Easter with kids - 2houses

2: Easter Egg Hunts

You’ll likely find an egg hunt thrown by your city or local recreation center, but feel free to make your own! Stash some eggs in whatever likely hiding places you can think of (and don’t worry, this works fine indoors) and let the kids loose.

To spice things up, a ‘cheat sheet’ with a few hints is not a bad idea. For example, telling the kids that there are five eggs in the kitchen might have them tearing up cereal boxes, checking the ice tray, and digging around in light fixtures. Of course, they have to clean up the mess they made – Spring cleaning can get a headstart here!

3: Egg Rolling

A handful of eggs, some long-handled spoons, and you’re golden. Egg rolling is a fantastic Easter activity with tons of versatility – traditionally, you’d ‘race’ to see who can roll their egg through the grass the fastest. Plenty of variations exist: eggs rolling and tumbling down a hill is a great (and potentially messy) way to change things up.

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4: Jelly Beans Galore!

Jelly beans are oddly versatile little treats. Take the traditional “Jelly Bean Guessing Game”, for example. Simply fill a jar with the beans, ask the kids how many there are, and count them up. The winner gets to gorge themselves on one of Easter’s most addictive snacks.

If you’re looking to make things a little more challenging (or potentially yucky!), opt for a twist on the “guess the flavor” game. It’s more than possible to find different sets of jelly beans that come in a range of weird, wacky, and wild flavors. Asking the kids to discern the differences between cherry, strawberry, potato, and ‘stinky socks’ flavors is sure to get some laughs!

5: Get the Yard Involved

Eggs, bunnies, and jelly beans make for a fantastic Easter. However, what about an activity that has a real sense of permanence?

easter with kids - 2houses

Enter the Easter Garden!

If you’re lucky enough to have garden space, Easter is a perfect time to really make the most of it. If you’re limited on space outdoors, a window planter/window box is a fantastic (and affordable) alternative.

Feel free to plant a range of spring fruits and vegetables, but don’t forget the quintessential Easter flower – the white lily. Tulips, daisies, and hyacinths are excellent as well. Throw in some azalea for extra color and, voilà, an Easter garden will be a fixture in your kid’s lives for weeks to come.

Easter Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

You’ll find that springtime often offers its own solutions – get outside, get active, and let the weather speak for itself. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor mischief, every activity listed above can be done indoors (just be careful with the eggs). Stick with some traditional activities and Easter with kids!

First steps on 2houses

2houses home page

You’ve just joined 2houses and can’t find your way around? Here are some explanations to configure your account. 2houses will no longer keep any secrets from you!

Step one : invite my co-parent

When you created your account, you entered the name of your co-parent. To invite him/her, follow this process:

  1. Go to “My Family
  2. Click on “Members
  3. Click on the key below your co-parent’s name

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When you click on the key, you just have to enter the co-parent’s email address. You can write a personal message or you can send a pre-written invitation by 2houses.

Finally, when you want to verify if the co-parent did accept your request, you just have to return to the “My family” page and you will be able to see if the co-parent accepted your invitation or not.

Not applicable if you’re the invited co-parent.

Step 2 : Create a parenting schedule

To create your first custody calendar:

  1. Go to the page “Calendar”
  2. Then in the subcategory, select “Parenting schedules
  3. Click on “Create a parenting schedule” or “Create my first parenting schedules.” Both choices will take you to the same page.

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Once you clicked on that button, choose the model that suits you.

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Or, compose your schedule manually. Select the days and the parent to personalize your planning.

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Step 3 : Create a holidays schedule

Just like the “joint custody” calendar you need to follow these steps:

  1. Go to “Agenda
  2. Click on “Parenting schedules
  3. Click on “Create a parenting schedule

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Then, just as you did for joint custody schedule, select the child concerned and select “create yours manually.

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Once this is done, give your schedule a name, and insert the start and end dates. Then click on the first day of the week and say where the child will spend the night. Repeat this until the desired date. If you want to add an extra week, click on «add a week.» If this schedule does not repeat, press «Do not repeat and apply until …» If necessary, press «Repeats until …» When you have established your schedule, click on «Create this parenting schedule.»

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The vacation schedule will overlay the standard schedule on the agreed dates. See: lexicon p.10. from the PDF.

Step 4 : Create a change request

To create your change request, click on:

  1. Calendar
  2. Change requests
  3. Create a change request

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Select the parent and a date. Add a note if you want to. Once you entered all of the information, click on “Create this change request.”

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Once this step is done, you will see the change request in your calendar.
In this case, the change request hasn’t been accepted yet by the co-parent. That’s why both of the schedules are visible.

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Step 5 : Create an event

When you’re on the dashboard:

  1. Click on “Calendar
  2. Then on the subdivision “Event
  3. Finally on “Create an event

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When you click on that button, you will arrive on the event page. Fill in what’s asked. You can choose this event to be recurring.

You also can choose this event to happen only once.

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Once you configure your event, click on “Create this event.

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Step 6 : Create an expense

To create an expense, please follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Finances
  2. Then on the subdivision “expenses
  3. Finally on “Report a new expense

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When you’re on the expenses page, fill in the price, the date, and the reason. Then, for the category, if you don’t have any yet, click on “create a new category.

For the category, fill in the title, the share proportion, and if you want to, an explanation note. Click on “create a category.

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You now can fill in all of the other details of the expense. You also can attach a file (the picture of your receipts, for example).

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If your expense is subject to an external reimbursement (ex: health service), click on “subject to a reimbursement” and tell the beneficiary.

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Finally, click on “Report this expense” and don’t forget that the beneficiary of the reimbursement will need to encode this reimbursement once he/ she receives it. A blue notification will appear until the reimbursement is done. You can encode it via the double arrow.

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2houses has no longer secret to you now!

Printable PDF version available here :

PDF 2houses – first step 2houses – EN version

Getting Over A Break Up: 5 Tips On How To Deal With Mutual Friends After Your Separation

getting over a break up

The end of your marital relationship doesn’t spell the end of your relationships with your mutual friends. It might seem daunting or confusing, but maintaining healthy connections with the people in your life is part of moving forward.

If you’re interested in getting over a break up, this article is for you. Divorce is between you and your former spouse — mutual friends are definitely feasible post-divorce!

1: It’s Not About Sides

Divorces, even the most amicable ones, can place a serious strain on mutual friends. If your first inclination is to try to “divide up” your mutual friends, try to think positively. True friends respect each others’ choices. The more you attempt you try to persuade mutual friends to take sides, the more stress you put on your relationships.

Remember why you’re friends in the first place. You enjoy each other’s company — keep it that way!

2: Keep a Positive Attitude When Getting Over a Break Up

Think about it from your friend’s perspective. That person wants to remain friends with both you and your ex. It’s better to keep the drama and gossip of your previous relationship away from mutual friends.

Not only does gossip always come back to haunt you, but you’ll garner a lot of goodwill by keeping it respectful. Focus on enjoying the friendships you’ve made over everything else.

3: Yes, Some Losses Are Normal

Take a deep breath. It’s unlikely that you’ll remain friends with everyone in your mutual friend circle. It’s perfectly normal and healthy for some friendships to be contingent on “pairs” — you and your ex, for example — so don’t fret if some friends drift away.

We all have people in our lives that naturally fade away; it’s a part of life.

In that same vein, don’t expect to remain amazing friends with your ex’s best friend! Your friends will naturally gravitate towards their preferred relationships. Let it happen and enjoy the relationships that you keep.

4: Communication Is Key

It might be a bit of a cliche, but communication really is key. If possible, communicate with your mutual friends to see if your ex will appear at social gatherings. Ask yourself if you’re okay with seeing your former spouse at a social event. If you’d rather limit contact, that’s great — you should feel zero pressure here. If you’d prefer to live completely separate lives, communicate that to your friend group.

After all, your friends are autonomous, intelligent, and capable people. Make it clear whether or not you’d like to see your ex at events. Your friends will keep you in the loop.

Of course, if possible, sit down with your former spouse. Discuss which friendships you know you want to keep. If your ex is adamant about ‘splitting’ friends, keep an open mind and communicate your wishes clearly.

5: Be Adaptable

Above all else, be adaptable. After a breakup or divorce, mutual friends will inevitably shift. Some relationships will end, some will become stronger. Stay flexible and realize that your friends are independent people with lives outside of your breakup!

Let them live their lives and enjoy the friendships you have.

Likewise, remember that even the best of friends may make mistakes. If you have an understanding with your mutual friends that you and your ex don’t want to meet at social gatherings, be flexible. Communication mishaps, confusion, and plain forgetfulness might have you wind up at the same party as your ex.

Stay positive, be respectful, and good things will happen.

Getting Over a Break Up

It’s not easy getting over a break up. The best way to deal with mutual friends is to communicate your wishes to them regarding you and your ex. Avoid making your friends pick sides, stay positive, accept your losses, and be adaptable.

Follow these tips and continue enjoying years of healthy friendships with your mutual friends!

Getting Along with Everyone in a Blended Family

Getting Along with Everyone in a Blended Family

Anyone can start a blended family. Actually getting everyone to blend is a bigger challenge.

When you become the spouse or partner of a parent, it’s entirely normal to feel a mix of emotions. You might be excited to have these kids in your life, and anxious about how to not step on the toes of their other parent. Maybe you’re worried about how to discipline the kids, or nervous they won’t get along with your family. Your top priority, though, is probably to form a loving and respectful relationship with the new kids in your life.

As one of the adults at the head of a new blended family, it’s up to you to nurture the relationships you have with your partner’s kids. A few simple strategies, and a lot of patience, will help you get there.

Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

Kids need consistency and boundaries to feel safe and secure. Establishing boundaries will also protect you from having to make up rules and punishments on the fly, which creates tension.

First, talk to the other parent about the kind of household you want to create. Make a list of house rules that are important to both of you, and talk about what the consequences will be when someone breaks a rule. Next, bring the family together to talk about the rules. Give everyone a chance to talk. Ask kids to share the things they feel they need from you to feel safe and comfortable. Ideally, you’ll schedule regular family get-togethers so everyone has a chance to air any grievances rather than letting them fester.

Find Individual Bonding Experiences

To bring your entire blended family together, focus on strengthening the individual relationships between all of you. Find common activities or interests that you can share with each child. If one kid loves sports, buy season tickets for a local baseball or basketball team. If another is into reading, make a point to schedule weekly library trips for the two of you.

If you have kids of your own, encourage them to form individual relationships with their new step-siblings. Even if it’s just asking a pair of them to join you for a grocery-shopping trip, give them plenty of chances to spend one-on-one time together.

Find Time for Fun

Blending two households and establishing new dynamics is stressful! But if months go by and the kids don’t see you do anything but worry and talk about rules, they’re not going to be inclined to bond with you.

Find unexpected ways to inject some fun and laughter into your shared life. Announce a surprise beach trip one day, or decide that the first Saturday of every month will be a family fun day. Play silly board games and ask kids to show you their favorite funny movies.

Give Kids Some Space

Kids had a whole life with their parent before you arrived on the scene. Part of forming a bonded blended family is showing each other respect for your individual pasts. So be careful to allow plenty of space and time for kids and your partner to have together. Encourage them to have meals alone and to take trips by themselves, to show the kids that you’re not trying to wedge yourself into their relationship.

It’s also important to not expect too much, too soon. Hopefully the kids will grow to love and trust you, and each other, but you can’t rush those things. It might take years to establish a really close and loving relationship. That’s worth the wait.