Joint custody is more common today than ever before, but that doesn’t always make it easy to set up. After a separation or divorce, figuring out how to co-parent your kids can be much harder than you’d imagine.
If you’re like most divorced parents, one of your most pressing questions is “How do we create a parenting plan for our family?” Juggling work schedules, extracurricular activities, visits to grandparents, and more can feel impossible.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to rein in the chaos. Let’s take a look at a few insights on creating a calendar that works for your whole family.
Tips Before Starting
Whether you’re just filing for divorce or you’ve been co-parenting for years, make sure to start on the right foot.
Keep the Kids in Mind
This tip may sound obvious, but it’s important.
Co-parenting means setting feelings of hurt aside to focus on what’s best for your kids. Strong emotions can make this hard, but don’t forget that your kids’ stability and happiness come first.
Avoid using your kids as messengers during your discussions about your calendar. You and your co-parent need to be able to speak directly. Aim to address each other with respect, to compromise, and to seek counseling or mediation if needed.
Work as a Team
Though we won’t get too far into this topic here, now is also a good time to discuss the consistency between houses.
What rules will you set up for curfews and other scheduling concerns? What types of privileges, restrictions, and discipline will you use?
Making sure your kids know what to expect from both parents can create a sense of stability.
Types of Joint Custody Schedules
Depending on your family’s needs, there are a few different joint custody schedules you can choose from.
The most common option is a weekly parenting schedule. This involves allowing kids to switch from home to home on alternating weeks. Often, the transition between homes is easiest over the weekend.
Some families adapt this schedule by adding visits or overnight stays in the middle of the week. This can help ensure that kids get to see each parent at least once per week, and it can also allow kids to attend certain extracurriculars.
The weekend schedule, also called a 5-2 schedule, means that one parent gets the kids each weekday while the other gets them on weekends. This is ideal for parents who prefer a set schedule, though it often means the parent with weekend custody gets more downtime with the kids.
There are many different types of rotating schedules that offer more contact with both parents during the week. However, these schedules can sometimes make it trickier for kids to stick to an extracurricular schedule.
In a 2-2-3 rotation, for example, kids spend two days with one parent, two days with another, and three days back with the first. The schedule allows parents to swap the three-day weekend between households.
Other schedules include 3-3-4-4 rotations and 2-2-5-5 rotations. Some families also alternate between either two- or three-day rotations.
Brainstorming Your Post-Divorce Schedule
Co-parenting schedules will always look different from family to family. After all, just as every family is different, so is every child within that family. When you and your ex consider your new schedule, make sure you’re thinking about every detail that makes your family unique.
At this point, it helps to have your calendars, special dates, and other scheduling details in front of you.
Here are a few things you’ll want to consider while you brainstorm:
- The ages of your children
- Any special needs your children have
- The types of child custody each parent has
- The arrival and dismissal times for each child’s school
- Each child’s extracurricular schedule
- Each parent’s work schedule
- Holidays, religious celebrations, and school breaks
- Third-party visits, such as weeks with grandparents or relatives
- The travel time between both households
- The financial situation of each household
- Each child’s medical needs
Talking to your child or children is helpful as well. When the situation allows, let them make choices about when they move homes and where they stay.
It’s also a good idea to avoid a few key things. For example, try not to make your transition times unreasonable when possible. Early morning or late night transitions can be hard on kids.
Though it can’t always be helped, try not to make your kids move between households too often in a single week. This is especially true for small children, who often need more stability.
Creating a Visual Calendar
Once you’ve brainstormed the type of plan you want and the specific scheduling for your family, creating a calendar can help. This makes it easier for everyone to see where kids should be at all times.
Ideally, your co-parenting calendar information should be online and interactive. This makes it easy to stay organized and see your schedule at a glance on the go.
Tweaking Your Post-Separation Schedule
Keep in mind that no schedule should be set in stone. It’s important, especially in the beginning, to make sure that your calendar is meeting your kids’ needs.
As you start using your schedule, take note of any issues that arise. Be careful not to assign blame for these issues while everyone adjusts to the calendar.
Common issues include missed pickups, events that run longer than expected, and scheduling conflicts. You should also get a feel for your children’s behavior and their reactions to the new calendar.
If any issues seem to be more than a one-off mistake, don’t be afraid to tweak your calendar.
If you happen to be using our parenting schedules, note that they can help you send messages and make change requests online. This can help parents adjust their schedules and find alternative dates fast.
Insights From Our Family to Yours
Here at 2houses, we know how stressful it can be to manage custody after a separation or divorce. That’s why we work to offer helpful tips and resources to parents who want the best for their kids.
Our online calendar is a great tool for any parent who needs a little help getting organized. Setting schedules, sending messages, and managing changes is a breeze through our simple interface. To try it for yourself, start your 14-day free trial now!