Supporting a Child’s Ability to Cope with the Emotional Impact of Separation and Divorce

Emotional Impact of Separation and Divorce

When parents find themselves considering separation and divorce, they often think of the different impacts on the whole family. Monetary, living spaces and even schooling factor in but, often, parents are reassured that children are resilient. While this is true, it is important for parents to understand the emotional impact of separation and divorce and how to help their children cope with it.

What Emotional Impacts Occur With Children?

There are a number of emotional impacts that you can see in your child during separation and divorce. These can be:

  • Strong Emotions: Children often experience a range of emotions from sadness to anger. They can have a sense of loss and can experience high levels of anxiety. Depression is also not uncommon. 
  • Behavior Problems: There are a range of behavior problems that occur including delinquency, problems connecting or experiencing increased conflict with peers or adults, impulsive behaviour and conduct disorders. In addition to those behavior problems, children often engage in risk taking behaviors, such as early sexual activity and drug and alcohol use.
  • Poor Academic Performance: While we think of this as more of a psychological hurdle, it is often linked to emotional impacts. Recently, a study has shown that poor academic performance is seen more commonly in children where divorce was unexpected, rather than when divorce was expected.

It is important to understand that the age of the child will also have emotional impacts. Young children are more likely to worry about not being loved any longer by one or both parents. Grade school children often shoulder the blame of divorce and teenagers can become quite angry with one or both of their parents. Regardless of age, children often feel fear and confusion around the divorce and separation, along with a high level of stress, which can lead to those behavioral impacts as a result.

Helping Your Children Cope with Emotional Impacts

Coping with the emotional impacts of divorce and separation are key in helping your child adjust to the new norm in their life. In addition, parents should understand that coping is an ongoing process. Even when kids look like they are fully coping with the change, there can be setbacks that bring new, or old, emotions to the forefront and parents may have to shift the coping mechanisms.

However, we have several coping mechanisms that will help your child cope with the emotional impacts. 

1. Coping with Your Own Emotional Impacts

Although a lot of our focus is on the impact of separation and divorce on children, it is important to start by looking at the emotional impacts you are facing yourself. No matter how you reached the decision to separate, you will have your own emotional impacts that can include anger, frustration, grief, anxiety and a range of other emotions. 

Take time to destress, exercise and look into therapy to help you work through the emotions of separation and divorce. Find the coping strategies that work for you and put them to use daily. By learning how to cope with your emotional impacts, you will model coping strategies to your children. 

2. Adult Problems – Adult Solutions

While this is not directly combating emotional impact directly, it is one of the most important steps that you can take as parents. Divorce affects the entire family, but it is still an adult problem that adults need to find the solutions for. Children should not be involved in this process at all as it adds unnecessary stress for them.

Some ways that you can minimize bringing the kids into the adult problem are:

  • Communicate Directly: Don’t make your kids the messenger. If you need to communicate something to your ex-partner, say it directly to them through phone calls, emails, texts, etc. When a child is working as the messenger, it can lead them to easily step into a mediator role, which leads to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Be Diplomatic: This goes with communicating directly but when you are diplomatic, there is often less tension between parents. Make sure that you are not badmouthing the other parent to or in front of the child. 
  • Learn: Parenting through divorce and separation is a learning process so it is important to learn and educate yourself as parents. Find out the best way to navigate divorce, how to meet the needs of your kids together and how to get support when needed.

In the end, maintaining a parenting relationship with your ex-partner that is as free of tension and stress as possible will go a long way in helping your kids cope with the divorce.

3. Foster Healthy Dynamics

Fostering healthy dynamics with your children and your ex-partner enables everyone to cope with the emotional impact of separation and divorce. This can be done in a number of ways. 

  1. Foster a strong parent-child relationship: Keep conflict low, find ways to meet the needs of your kids in positive, respectful ways. Be sure to set limits but also give the child parental time, affection and warmth.
  2. Allow your kids to feel safe: Find out where their worries are and make sure they feel loved and safe. Many children can have a fear of abandonment from one or more parents so reassurance that you will be there for your child is important. 
  3. Keep routines: With so much change, it can be difficult to keep routines but it is important to try. Agree with your partner on routines and schedules that will happen at both homes and enforce those routines. When kids have a sense of structure, they feel less stress and going between homes won’t be as scary for them.
  4. Let your kids tell you what they need: While we want to solve all the hurt your child is living through, it is important to not always fix it for them. Listen to them when they tell you what they need and try to incorporate that into your child’s life. They’ll feel empowered, and learn that they are strong enough to work through the stress. 

Before moving on to the final tip, it is important to maintain a healthy relationship with your ex-partner through open communication. The more you communicate in a respectful manner, the better your child’s coping skills.

4. Be Consistent

Consistency is key with coping with emotional impacts. Be consistent with your actions, time and with routines as mentioned above. In addition, establish rules and consequences with your ex-partner in regard to your children. If consequences need to be given, make sure that it is consistent between both households. Studies have shown that consistency, even in regard to discipline, help reduce delinquency in children. 

In the end, these are coping strategies that you can use without professional help; however, if nothing is working and your child is still experiencing a lot of emotional distress and negative behaviors as a result, it is important to seek professional help. This help could be through mediators to provide a lower level of tension between parents, or psychological support from a trained professional for your children and even your whole family. 

The key to successfully coping with the emotional impact from separation and divorce is in being proactive and getting the support you and your children need. 

Parenting Plan: How to Create a Workable Schedule After Divorce

Parenting Plan

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.

Alternating Weeks

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.

Weekend Schedule

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.

Mid-Week Rotations

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!

Balancing Blended Families: How to Avoid Badmouthing

How to Avoid Badmouthing

With the holidays comes a certain amount of tension. As a matter of fact, 88% of Americans find the holiday season to be one of the most stressful times of the year! It gets even harder when you’re trying to manage a blended family and can lead to bad behavior like badmouthing. 

Often, with all of the added stressors of the holidays, parents aren’t on their best behavior. They’re worn down from holiday shopping, decorations, parties, work, work engagements, and the cold and dreary weather.

Under enough stress, they snap. They may resort to “less than ideal” behavior. Badmouthing (among other types of stress-related behavior) is bad for the children (and the family dynamic as a whole). 

Read on to learn how to avoid it. 

Prepare Yourself Ahead of Time

It’s no secret that the holidays are going to bring with them some serious stressors. You already know this, so start preparing weeks (if not more) ahead of time. 

This is a great time to start journaling, practicing self-care (more on that later), and potentially talking to someone about your concerns. Talk to your counselor about how you’re feeling and some worries you have about how the holidays will go. 

Don’t leave room for surprises. 

If you’re going to be sending your child(ren) from one home to another, know exactly how the pick-up and drop-off will go. Plan a time and location so you can prepare both yourself and your family. 

You should also plan the unrelated details of your holiday ahead of time. The better-prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll be. That will make it easier for you to stay on good behavior. 

Plan How to React

While you’re preparing, try to consider any potential events that could trigger an emotional response. Not reacting poorly in the moment is a challenge for anyone, and it’s understandable that stress would make it even more difficult.

Consider potential scenarios that could come up. Whether it’s a fight between you (or a family member) and your co-parent, someone being late for pick-up or drop-off, or snide comments, it’s good to know how you plan to respond in a healthy way. 

Find Ways to Relieve Stress

Try to find self-care and stress-relief methods on the days and weeks leading up to the holidays. 

You’re likely going to be busy with holiday preparations, but do what you can to take breaks every now and again. Give yourself an at-home spa day, let a babysitter or family member watch the kids, go see a movie with friends, or find one of the countless other opportunities to remove yourself from your stressors for just a few hours.

Consider talking to a therapist if you don’t already. It’s not uncommon for people to only see therapists during times of stress. With a therapist, you can also “badmouth” your former partner as much as you’d like to in a safe and harmless environment.

Your therapist may also be able to help you re-route those negative thoughts into something more positive. 

Collaborate With Your Co-Parent

If it’s possible to do so, work together with your co-parent to make the situation as relaxing as possible.

If you plan on spending time together, that’s amazing! Not everyone can do that, so that’s a great thing you’re doing for your child. You also know it can be even more frustrating than just doing a pick-up and drop-off, however.

Plan ahead. Talk about things on the “not to do” list that you can both avoid to prevent any unnecessary tension. Talk about topics that you won’t bring up.

Consider coming up with a “cue” that you can use to tell the other parent that you need to go take a break. You can both use this non-verbal cue if you’re feeling your tempers rise. 

If you’re spending most of the time apart, you should still collaborate. Talk to your former partner about what you will and will not say around the children. Remember, this is not your child’s problem. 

Think Before You Speak

This seems simple, but it’s tougher than you think during a stressful time.

Always take a second to breathe before you react to something upsetting. Often, our mouths move faster than our brains! Give yourself a moment to think before you say something you regret.

It’s always better to be silent than to badmouth. 

Avoid Passive Aggression

This is a tough one!

Many parents are fantastic at avoiding overt badmouthing, but they may dip into passive aggression when they’re feeling upset. It’s totally understandable during stressful holidays, but it’s not as subtle as you think it is.

Children can pick up on passive aggression, so you’re not hiding your badmouthing by making it more subtle. Your co-parent will also pick up on it and it could make the situation worse.

If you have a problem, excuse yourself and your co-parent and speak directly. 

Focus on the Holiday

At the end of the day, all you can do is focus on the joy of the holiday. You want to create the best holiday experience for your child (and yourself), so make the most of it.

Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, your co-parent may irritate you or do something you don’t expect. You may do the same to them without realizing it!

Try to get into the holiday spirit anyway. Focus on what’s good.

Avoid Badmouthing During the Holidays

While the holidays can bring out the worst in us, badmouthing is never the answer. Practice self-care, see a counselor, prepare ahead of time, and consider the other recommendations on our list.

Are you looking for a tool that can make co-parenting easier and less stressful for parents and children alike? 2houses gives you access to a family journal, a family calendar, financial organization features, and more. Give it a try today.

Talking Parents: 6 Reasons Parents Should Talk After a Divorce Meta description

Talking parents

In 2020, there were 630,505 divorces and annulments in the United States alone. Separation and divorce are still quite common in the United States and around the world. However, talking parents can make the situation easier for your family. 

Divorce is a difficult time full of many strong emotions and obstacles, both for the parents and for your children. Regardless of the reason, divorce became the best option for the two of you. But you might want to think twice before burning bridges with your former spouse.

Here’s why you and your children will benefit from parent communication. 

1. You Avoid Misunderstandings

You and your spouse don’t have to be friends after a divorce. Some people are lucky and split amicably. Others feel hurt, betrayed, and angry. 

Whatever your situation, it’s crucial to remain cordial and professional. You don’t have to be friendly, but remaining level-headed will help you make better decisions. You can focus on what’s important during this time.

Remaining cordial makes it easy to communicate with your spouse. Communicating helps the two of you avoid misunderstandings and come to an agreement more quickly. As such, you can finalize the divorce sooner. 

Another way to avoid misunderstandings is to research common myths. Understand the legal terminology and discuss these issues with your spouse. That way, the two of you can come to an agreement with fewer hurt feelings. 

2. You Save Money

The average cost of a divorce is $12,900. However, you can spend much more if you have any contested issues. Commonly contested issues include: 

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Alimony
  • Property

You and your spouse may not be on the same page regarding these issues. Yet, remaining divided will cost the two of you much more. So, what can you do? 

Find a way to communicate outside of the courtroom to save money. Go out to lunch or discuss issues over the phone. Of course, be careful what you say and agree to unless it aligns with your interests. 

The two of you may be able to come to an agreement faster this way. 

3. It’s Easier on Your Kids

There is a 16% increased risk of behavioral problems in kids between 7-14 following a divorce. It’s crucial to remember that your kids are having a tough time too. As such, you want to be careful about what you say concerning your spouse in front of them. 

Your children love you both. Divorce can feel like they suddenly have to “choose” between parents. They might ask, “What will happen to our family?” 

The stress of a divorce can take a mental and physical toll on kids. They may become depressed or anxious and feel as if their lives are changing in a big way. 

Take time to spend with your kids. Ask them how they’re feeling and let them know they can always come to you. Of course, you might want to consider counseling or therapy for your kids. 

A child therapist helps kids work through difficult mental and emotional problems. They can also diagnose issues such as anxiety, stress, or depression. Seeing a professional can also help your child feel like they have someone to talk to. 

4. Co-Parenting Becomes an Option

Conflict between parents has a negative effect on kids. It may make them feel vulnerable or anxious. That’s why co-parenting is becoming so common. 

By definition, co-parenting involves sharing the responsibilities of raising a child or children. It’s used mostly in situations where parents are separated or divorced. 

That said, co-parenting will look different in each divorce situation. It involves scheduling visitations, taking their kids to appointments, attending important moments in a child’s life, etc. 

Divorced parents often find that co-parenting makes divorce much easier on the children. They can still see both parents, and the family isn’t as disjointed as it may have felt previously. 

However, co-parenting is only possible with proper family communication and flexibility. You need to talk to your spouse about what times work best and how long visitations should be. Also, consider whether there are any obstacles, such as appointments or travel. 

The 2houses interactive calendar makes this much easier by setting parental schedules. 

5. It’s Therapeutic

Divorce is stressful for both parents as well as the kids. Plus, it can get awkward among your friends, at work, and when talking to your support network. Your whole life can change after a divorce, including where you live and who you talk to. 

As such, you may deal with feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and so on. In short, you have a lot of feelings to work through! Communicating with your spouse and others can be therapeutic for you. 

Part of the reason why divorce can be so stressful is not understanding the situation. You may not understand your spouse’s feelings or actions, especially if they hurt you. 

Communication can provide closure. It may not be easy, but it can help you to understand the situation more. 

You have a right to express any feelings of anger or grief as well. However, yelling at your spouse or blaming them won’t make matters any better. It’s best to talk to a therapist or start a divorce journal to work through your feelings. 

6. Communication Is Easier Than You Think

These days, technology has made communicating and syncing schedules much easier. You no longer have to make appointments on the fridge calendar, via email, or over text. 

Interactive calendars allow both parents to add family events, adjust their schedules, and more. Set a time for dance lessons or parent-teacher conferences. If there’s a sudden change in schedules, either spouse can update the calendar. 

That way, both spouses have an accurate schedule that makes co-parenting much easier. 

Talking Parents: A Better Solution

Open communication and talking parents can make divorce easier for your kids. It also has many benefits for you, such as being therapeutic. 

To make the process easier, take a look at the features and pricing of the 2houses services. From an interactive calendar to a financial management tool, subscribing makes communicating easy and painless. 

20 Journal Prompts for Your Divorce Journal

Divorce journal

Have you recently gone through a divorce?

Getting divorced brings up many negative emotions within us. It is essential to let these negative emotions out through a healthy outlet. One way to reflect on these emotions is through daily writing in a journal.

Did you know that journaling is a form of meditative practice? Journaling the right way can help improve your perspective and mental health.

However, you can only reap the benefits if you do it right. Not sure what to write in your divorce journal? Then keep reading for twenty relationship journal prompts.

1. When Did You Realize it Was a Toxic Relationship?

Writing this down can give you strength when you are doubting yourself. Leaving someone is hard when you’re used to being with them. You may even start gaslighting yourself into thinking that the relationship was not that bad.

2. Is There a Pattern of Toxic Relationships in Your Life?

Think about other relationships you’ve had.

If you find yourself drawn to toxic partners, reflect on why. Did your parents have an unhealthy relationship? Do you have problems contributing to this?

Knowing what causes you to stay in toxic relationships is important. This helps you avoid toxic relationships in the future. You may also talk to a therapist who can help you resolve some issues you have contributing to this.

3. When Was the Last Time You Felt Good About Your Relationship?

It is good to get both good and bad aspects of your relationship. Hating your partner would only plant negative emotions in your heart.

Try looking back on the good moments of your relationship. This helps you have a more balanced view of your ex-partner. Knowing your partner’s good traits is crucial when you’re divorced but need to co-parent.

4. If Your Loved One Was in the Same Situation, What Advice Would You Tell Them?

One of the best pieces of advice is to treat yourself like how you would treat a loved one. We are often self-critical and fail to see things in a balanced or empathetic way. Treating yourself like you would a loved one will help you treat yourself with more kindness.

5. What Was the Last Straw That Made You Leave?

The last straw is often not one situation; reflecting on it may show you other accumulated problems. Unresolved issues or trauma in your last relationship might carry on in your next one.

It is essential to reflect on the last straw and think of ways you could have prevented it. How did you react? Do you think you handled it the right way?

6. What’s the Biggest Lesson You’ve Learned?

All relationships give us lessons. A toxic relationship might have taught us red flags to look out for or what we want in a partner. Carry these lessons to heart so you do not repeat them.

7. What Boundaries Do You Plan to Set With Your Next Partner?

Setting the right boundaries with a partner is a key component of a healthy relationship. What boundaries were not honored in your past relationship? How can you enforce and communicate your boundaries better?

8. Are You Letting Yourself Feel How You Want To?

There is no right or wrong way to feel during a divorce. Stop bottling up your emotions and allow yourself to process what you’re feeling.

9. If You Were to Write a Letter to Your Ex-partner, What Would it Say?

Some things are better left unsaid. There may be some hurtful things that come to mind about your partner. Vent it out without hurting others by writing it in your journal.

10. Write Every Negative Emotion You Feel and Why.

As mentioned, it’s important to vent out what you’re feeling. But it also helps to reflect on why.

If you’re angry, what parts of the relationship made you feel so? Are you sad because it’s over or sad because it happened?

11. How Would an Ideal Partner Treat You?

Jotting down these traits would be helpful when you are in your next relationship. We often overlook red flags during the honeymoon phase. Writing down what our ideal partner should be like helps us get a clearer picture of what we should look for.

12. What Did Your Partner Criticize the Most?

During arguments, our partners might say hurtful things about us. Was it true? If it is how can we make ourselves better.

If it’s not, determine what you can do to heal or move past it. Many people say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment. It isn’t fair to trap yourself in something your ex-partner said.

13. What are You Doing for Self-care Right Now?

It’s easy to succumb to stress during a divorce and let yourself go. That’s why you should always practice self-care. Write down self-care goals or what you are doing to pamper yourself during this time.

14. Name 3 Things You’re Grateful For

Studies show that writing things we are grateful for can help our mental health. During a divorce, it may become easy to have tunnel vision of negative thoughts.

Looking at other things in your life besides the divorce helps you fight this spiral.

Take a moment and look at the things you are grateful for. You could be grateful for your strength in leaving a toxic relationship. You can write about how grateful you are for your beautiful children.

You can name more than three things to be grateful for, or even begin with one if you are having a hard time. But practicing gratefulness will help you feel happier.

15. What Are Your Love Languages? How Do You Express Them?

Knowing your love language is important to building a healthy relationship. This allows you to better understand yourself and helps your new partner know the best way to love you.

16. What Regrets Do You Have?

Nobody is perfect. Reflecting back on things we regret isn’t only about regretting them. It’s also about holding ourselves accountable.

17. What Would a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

What does a healthy relationship look like to you? Is it about romantic dates, compromises, and surprises? Or is it being there in times you need it the most?

Defining a healthy relationship helps us have a blueprint of what to do in our next relationship.

18. What Were the Biggest Issues You Faced With Your Ex-partner?

Identify the biggest problems you had with your ex-partner. Were your fights avoidable? Could you have handled it better?

19. Do You Think True Love Exists?

Do you believe in soul mates? Does true love exist? Is love a choice or a commitment?

These are some of the things you need to think about when answering this question. Everyone has a different definition or belief of true love.

20. What’s Holding You Back?

If you know the kind of partner you want to have, what is holding you back? Determine how you can work on yourself so you can get the relationship you want.

Healing From a Past Relationship With a Divorce Journal

After a divorce, it’s normal to feel confused, angry, depressed, or even numb. All your emotions are valid, and it’s crucial to be able to understand them on your own. Try answering these prompts in your divorce journal and see if you can get a better understanding of yourself.

Are you co-parenting with your ex-partner? We have a way to make it easier on both parties. Contact us today.

How to Organize Joint Custody in a Blended Family

custody schedule

Each year, more than 630,000 couples in America get divorced. This can be a very difficult time both emotionally and practically. After all, getting divorced requires a lot of logistical planning, especially if you have kids.

More than 1 million American children see their parents divorce each year. So your child isn’t alone in this experience. However, it is still incredibly important to handle this transition carefully. 

Organizing a custody schedule as soon as possible will create stability in your children’s life. Are you wondering how to organize a joint custody schedule in your blended family? Then you’re in the right place. 

Read on to find out our top tips for creating a co-parenting schedule that works for everyone.

Accept That Co-Parenting Can Be Difficult

The majority of parents don’t set out planning to separate. So this can be a very emotional and uncertain time. It is natural to feel concerned for your children and yourself. 

However, getting emotional while putting together a child custody schedule can work against you. Because of this, make sure you have a lot of support around you.

Trusted friends and family members can offer advice and give you room to vent about the process. No one is expecting you to find this easy, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Put Your Child’s Needs First in Your Custody Schedule 

No matter what has happened during your separation, you should always put your child’s needs first. This can be easier said than done. After all, it usually means that you get to spend less time with your children overall.

That said, your custody schedule is there to support your child’s relationship with both of their parents. So it should serve this. It should also support their individual needs and create stability in their life. 

During the process, it is important not to put your child on the spot. You shouldn’t ask them directly what they want. This can be emotionally stressful and might make them feel guilty for picking one parent over the other. 

However, you can ask them if they have any worries or concerns following the separation. This lets them share their wants and needs. It will also make them feel like they are being listened to and prioritized.

Look at Different Schedule Options 

50-50 custody schedule is not your only option when it comes to childcare. In fact, trying to split child custody down the middle can be very difficult.

This gets harder when you factor in your child’s other commitments, such as school and playdates. So you may want to consider different schedule options. 

Some parents alternate weeks with their children. Others use a 2-2-3 or 2-2-5 plan. These involve children spending: 

  • Two days with each parent followed by 
  • Three days with one parent or five days with one parent 

At the end of the week, the schedule flips. So each parent ends up getting seven days with their children every two weeks. However, in this arrangement, you never have to go longer than five days without seeing your child!

Other parents may not have the flexibility to manage this schedule. For example, your work schedule may make it difficult. In that case, you might alternate weekends with your children and have a family dinner once a week.

This really is about finding what works for you and your children. So make sure you prioritize that.

Set Aside Time to Communicate 

After a divorce or separation, you might want some time and space from your ex. However, this can mean that the only time you see them is when dropping off or collecting your kids.

This is not a good time to discuss child custody arrangements or anything else. In fact, these discussions should never happen in front of the children. 

Instead, set aside a time that works for you both and decide the best way to communicate. That way you can both come to the conversation with your thoughts prepared.

Pick Your Battles 

Co-parenting can be very difficult. While parenting, you and your spouse can present a united front to your children. However, after a separation, the dynamic can change a lot. 

The emotional fallout of your divorce might mean it is harder to call your ex out on certain behavior. So think carefully before picking up on an issue. 

Obviously, you and your ex need to be on the same page about certain issues, such as discipline. However, when it comes to the occasional late night or mistimed dessert, pick your battles. This will save you a lot of energy and can help things run more smoothly with your ex.

If you are concerned about a larger issue, set aside time to talk about this. It can also help to get support from a mediator for these conversations.

Stay Flexible and Review Your Arrangements 

Stability is incredibly important for children and can help them feel emotionally secure. So try to create a consistent schedule that you can stick to.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be totally rigid. A little flexibility from time to time won’t disturb your kids too much. And it can help your relationship with your ex. 

It is also important to check in on how well your schedule is working for everyone. Try to give it a month or so and then review your arrangements.

If they work, then that’s great! If not, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and adjust them.

Get Help Organizing Your Custody Exchange Schedule 

When it comes to putting together a custody schedule, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Instead, the most important thing is to put your children’s needs first. This may be challenging at times and can be very emotional. So make sure you have plenty of support around while you navigate life with your blended family. 

2houses is also here to provide practical support. Our calendars make it easy to access your schedule and communicate with your ex. Find out more and start your 14-day trial now!

Building Kids’ Resilience in Two Homes

Two homes

Sometimes, marriages don’t work out, but we would still do anything for our family. 72% of divorces occur within the first 14 years of marriage, which is when most couples still have minor children.

If you’re working through a divorce with young children, there are a lot of challenges to navigate, especially with your children. However, the good news is that you are not alone. 

Let’s talk about how to build resiliency in your children through separation or divorce.

Why Resiliency Is So Important

Resiliency is an important skill for any child to learn. It can help them find greater success in life and cope with circumstances beyond their control. Learning to bounce back from setbacks and challenges is critical for proper development.

More importantly, separation and divorce require resiliency for everyone involved. Children happen to be the most at-risk in these situations, which is why it’s so important to help them build resilience.

Remember that resiliency is a skill, not an innate personality trait. It’s not something people are born with, which is important to recognize before helping your child along.

Building Children’s Resilience Through Separation

The most important factors in building resiliency for your child are understanding their needs and reducing their stress levels. Children will learn a lot on their own, but only in the right environments. Let’s talk about how to facilitate that.

Reduce Co-Parenting Conflict

Conflicts between co-parents are bound to happen at some point. However, reducing their frequency and ferocity is essential. Your child may have shown resiliency so far in the process, but everybody has their limits.

Separation and divorce are already traumatic experiences that require resiliency. Children will need to learn how to adapt to a different living situation. Adding most stress is the last thing they need.

Never Use Children as Messengers

We live in a world with no excuses. If you have something to say to your ex, you can contact them whenever you want. You should never put your child in a position where they feel trapped in the middle.

While this is especially true for any negative messages, it holds true for all. Your child should never feel responsible for conveying information. We all know how the game of “telephone” works.

Consequently, if the child forgets or misinterprets the message, this could lead to hostility. Your child will then feel they are to blame for escalating conflicts. It’s always best to avoid putting children in this position.

Encourage Consistency

Consistency between the two households is vital for a child’s development. For example, if one parent allows video games before homework and the other doesn’t, this could lead to resentment toward the parent perceived as “more strict”.

Try to sit down with your co-parent and discuss basic rules and expectations that you need to maintain at both houses. As time passes, more of these differences are likely to arise. Discuss them as they come and try to work toward an agreement, rather than blaming the other parent without communicating.

Maintain a Routine

A predictable daily schedule is the best way to build routines for children. However, this is a challenge with two homes.

Children should be able to predict where they’ll be housed and what their days will be like in the near future. Would you like to wake up every day without any clue of where you’re going or what you’re doing? Consider your child’s point of view here.

Moreover, a set schedule is essential for children. If the child knows they spend every Wednesday and every other weekend with one parent, try your best to keep these consistent. You want them to easily predict their routines.

Also, if your child is used to waking up, having breakfast, getting dressed, watching a short episode on television, and then going to school, keep it consistent. We all like having some semblance of a routine, which is especially important when living in two separate homes. Waking up in a different location regularly is disorienting enough, so establishing a clear routine is quite helpful.

Encourage an Open Dialogue

There’s a good chance your child is worried to tell you how they are feeling, especially if you’re visibly occupied with your divorce. Let your child know that they’re more than welcome to tell you how they’re feeling, even if that means telling you hard truths you may not want to hear.

How else can you help foster resiliency? If the child does not know how to regulate their emotions, and you don’t know what emotions they are feeling, where is there room for progress?

Your child is likely experiencing big emotions due to the stress of a new life. They should not be punished for expressing themselves but encouraged to do so. Suffering in silence won’t help anyone.

Strategize With Your Co-Parent

Sit down with your co-parent away from your child and discuss a plan for building resilience in your child and how to manage their stress levels. Try to keep things as consistent as possible in each home, discuss issues away from them, and work to make your child as comfortable as possible in both homes.

Divorce is challenging for everybody, but your child has the least amount of power during the process. For this reason, it’s important to develop an inclusive plan for them with your co-parent and stick to it.

If you feel overwhelmed, that’s okay. Talk to a professional co-parenting facilitator to help build an easy transition and better resilience for your child. This way, you and your co-parent can stay on the same page.

Don’t Give Up

We know that separation and divorce are challenging. However, your children are innocent in these situations, and it’s the responsibility of their parents to give them the security, stability, and tools they need for success.

Keep reading our blog for our latest co-parenting tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

How to Co-Parent with a Restraining Order

Parenting with a Restraining Order

Let’s face it: being a parent is hard. Although it is probably the best job you will ever have, it isn’t always easy or clear how to parent effectively. Even with all the parenting books available, there are still those gray areas that don’t take into account the different personalities of each child, or the parenting style of each parent. To make things even harder, you and your child’s other parent are now exes, and you have a Restraining Order against you, and you are ordered to co-parent. That’s a whole jumbled-up mess in and of itself. What should you do now that you find yourself in separate households? Who gets to see the child on their birthday or holidays? How do you adjust to downsizing from a two-income household to a one-income household? There are so many questions that desperately need answers. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for co-parenting with a Restraining Order, there are some general do’s and don’t’s that will guide you through the multitude of issues of co-parenting with a Restraining Order.

Restraining Orders in General

Restraining Orders are orders that are signed by a judge that directs people what they should and should not do. They are automatic in divorces, and some of the restrictions automatically apply to divorcing couples. For example, the parties are not allowed to move their child out of the state or sell property while the divorce case is still pending. All the restrictions are in place to protect both parties from physical or mental harm, protect the child’s best interest, and to preserve assets. Both parties are informed of the Restraining Order when they get the divorce papers. Each person may contest any part of the Restraining Order and request that it be removed within 30 days of receiving a copy. Most of the Restraining Orders end when the divorce is finalized.

Obeying the Restraining Order

When the Restraining Order was signed, it had conditions of do’s and don’t’s for co-parenting. Possibly the most important rule to successfully co-parenting with a Restraining Order is to follow the order’s conditions. Not only will doing so most likely make things go smoother with you and your ex, but it will also look favorable the next time you are in Court. If the judge sees that you are obeying the Order and doing your part to co-parent in a way that is best for your child, he or she will be more likely to grant you custody, or decide if you will be allowed to see your child at all.          

Custodial Decisions

Judges must make custodial decisions that he or she believes are best for the child. The judge will take into account a plethora of things, such as the individual needs of the child, whether the parents communicate well, and any domestic violence. Courts have agreed that domestic violence is never what is best for the child. In a divorce case involving alleged abuse, the judge could order supervised visits, pause any visitation, or terminate it completely until the domestic violence offender finishes a parenting or counseling class. Therefore, it is in you and your child’s best interest to obey the rules of your Order. You will be more likely to stay in your child’s life, and your child will see how to handle disappointing or challenging circumstances.

Communication with Your Co-Parent

Communicating with your co-parent while there is an active Restraining Order can cause additional trouble. Most of the time, Restraining Orders contain a clause forbidding all contact between the two parties. However, successful co-parenting requires some level of communication. Since contacting your co-parent is an issue in a Restraining Order, it’s best to end all communication with your co-parent. If there are situations that you need to discuss with your co-parent regarding your child, there are several options for routing around this obstacle to successful co-parenting with a restraining order.

First, consider hiring an attorney of your choice to communicate on your behalf. This avenue allows you to relay your wishes without going against the Court’s rules, or possibly affecting your chance of parenting in the future. He or she can perform the leg work of each of the following tips.

  1. Ask the Court for an exemption to the Restraining Order that allows for discussing co-parenting matters.
  2. Apply for permission to communicate through phone calls, texting, emailing, and any social media outlet.
  3. Request that both parties can utilize a third party to communicate with each other.
  4. Consider asking for permission to use an actual notebook or diary to discuss any parenting information. Either the child or another party would hand the notebook to the other parent, then back to the original parent.
  5.  Think about requesting to use a reliable co-parenting app. These apps allow both parents to send messages, share pictures, stay on schedule, track expenses, including shared ones, and many other functions. There are some apps that are free and some that charge a monthly fee.

If the Restraining Order states that you both may not go near each other, it will most likely designate someone that can get your child to you and your ex. This could be a friend, family member, or a visitation officer. Ask your family law attorney for suggestions of a Children’s Contact Services company, if the judge ordered that one be used.

Most of the time, Restraining Orders determine a certain amount of physical space that must be kept between the parents. This can make attending family and school functions hard. To keep from disobeying the judge’s Order, it might be helpful to plan different times that each person will get there, adjust seating locations, or to take turns with who goes to which events. Just remember that it is the restrained person’s duty to adhere to the Order and to ensure no clause of the order is violated, even if the other parent initiates contact.

Need More Help Co-Parenting with a Restraining Order?

If you are still experiencing issues that are keeping you from successfully co-parenting with a Restraining Order, consider hiring a family law attorney, if you haven’t already. They have the knowledge and expertise to know the legal ins-and-outs of co-parenting with a Restraining Order. They can file paperwork, petition the Court for certain requests, and execute many other legal-related dealings. This will save you time and energy you need to effectively co-parent.

The Take-Away

Divorce brings hard feelings, confusion, hurt, sadness, bitterness, anger, and many more feelings. These feelings don’t go away quickly. And, divorce becomes even more difficult when a child is involved. But successful co-parenting is necessary, especially when a Restraining Order is involved. But it absolutely is possible. Do everything in your power to follow the Order and make things go smoothly for you, your ex, and most importantly, your child. Make sure that you are able to be there for your child by following the terms and conditions of your Order. Show your child that he or she is worth putting aside your own desires, such as the desire to be right or to be heard. If you need help navigating the jungle that is co-parenting, research and hire a family law attorney in your area. You and your child’s relationship will thank you.

Better Back-to-School Experience After a Recent Separation

Our family after a recent separation

Divorce requires major adjustments, and not just from the couple who’s splitting. Kids have to get used to a new normal, too — but they won’t be down forever.

Research suggests that most children bounce back within two years of their parents’ divorce. That’s better than the alternative, according to the American Psychological Association. They say that children with parents who stick together although they don’t get along face more problems down the line.

One major adjustment that children of divorce have to make is the return back to school after a separation. You may be wondering, “What can I do to make sure this is easy on our family?” Here are five tips for making the return back to school after a divorce as smooth as possible.

1. Create a Routine

Regardless of whether or not you’ve had a separation, routine is so important to your children. When they’re toddlers, routines help them to learn good behavior and habits. The same goes as they get older, and it becomes even more important to children whose parents have divorced.

Why? Because having a routine that they follow will give your children a sense of stability, too, which they will crave after their lives change in a major way. 

Work with your former spouse to decide who will do drop-offs and pick-ups every day, and who will take the kids to and from their activities. When they know who will be there to get them, they will feel a sense of calm, which is exactly what you want after a stretch of uncertainty.

2. Talk to Their Teachers

Your child might not want to talk to their teachers, coaches, counselors, or principals about what has happened. However, it will be beneficial to them and to your child to have school officials know.

Keep in mind that your child’s teachers want them to succeed as much as you do. Having a conversation before they return to school can help the teacher — or coach or principal — to be on the lookout for any changes in behavior. For example, if your child seems detached or sad, the teacher can guide them to the help they need from the school counselor.

At the very least, having a teacher know what’s going on will ensure your child has someone who’s understanding and sympathetic when they’re at school. For a child dealing with a big life change, that can make all of the difference.

3. Coordinate With Your Former Spouse

On that note, communication is key to making this transition as painless as possible. You don’t just need to talk to your child’s teachers, though. You need to make communication with your former partner as productive as you possibly can.

You will need to have conversations about all of the above and more. Who will handle what school-related responsibilities? Who will pay for fees and supplies? 

You and your former partner will also want to coordinate on attending school activities, performances, concerts, etc. It will be important to your child to have you both at big events, so you will have to be sure you both know what’s happening, and when.

A great way to figure all of this out is with a joint calendar specifically designed for those who are co-parenting. You can use these apps to schedule your everyday responsibilities and big events. You can also mark dates and times when you’ll be busy and have to readjust your schedule, too.

4. Give Your Child Space 

Not all children love school, but going to school does provide a lot of the stability and routine we discussed earlier. So, it’s important to let your child go to school without issue, enjoy their friends, and perhaps forget about their divorce-related concerns while they’re there.

How can you do this? For starters, we suggest discreetly discussing the divorce with other grown-ups, but not making it a widely known change to your child’s friends. They should be able to disclose such a big change when they feel comfortable.

Unfortunately, too, not all divorces are amicable. Even if there is discord or drama, though, you should try and keep that from your children and especially from their friends. Don’t let any disagreements play out at school or even when your child has a school friend over at your house.

5. Let Your Child Speak, Too

As you iron out the details of your divorce, don’t forget that your childish going through a huge change, too. Make sure they know that they can talk to you about anything, any time. Building that trust is vital to your relationship with your child, and it will also make them feel more confident and secure in a difficult time.

Keep in mind that this will be their first time returning to school after a major life change. Listen to and acknowledge their concerns and feelings. Even if your child is young, it’s so important that they feel listened to and valid in what they’re feeling.

If your child isn’t opening up, simply ask them how their day went when they get home. Try asking open-ended questions so that they talk more. Eventually, they should feel comfortable enough to express anything divorce-related that has been weighing on them, and you’ll both feel better for having the conversation.

Go Back to School Strong After Separation

After a separation or divorce, you might think, “Our family won’t recover.” But the truth is, you can make the transition easier on your children by providing them stability and comfort. That applies to your back-to-school journey and everything in between.

We’re here to make your divorce easier on everyone, too. Click here to learn more about 2houses, an app designed to make scheduling simple for parents who have split up.

When One Parent Talks Badly About the Other – Building Kids’ Resilience in Two Homes

Building Kids’ Resilience in Two Homes

When there is a history of emotional abuse between parents during the marriage, one parent often talks badly about the other after the divorce. This is a continuation of the marriage relationship. The hope is that the parent-child relationships don’t need to suffer. The hope is building kids’ resilience in two homes works more successfully than before.

At the same time, it is critical your children are raised in the awareness that emotional abuse exists. And they need to learn to be resilient in case they end up as recipients of emotional abuse by a parent or anyone in their lives. It is possible to navigate this dilemma without bad-mouthing your co-parent.

One Parent Talks Badly About the Other

It can be really challenging to not retaliate when one parent talks badly about the other. Although you may need to defend yourself against specific attacks when the other parent says things to your children, it is critical you do not retaliate by saying similar things about them.

Emotional harm between parents has negative impacts on you and your children. Of course, make an effort to protect your kids from any exposure to emotional harm. Act as a buffer against the negative consequences, and support them emotionally, so they can become resilient in the face of emotional abuse in whatever form. 

Building Kids’ Resilience in Two Homes

Children react differently to negative situations, so be mindful of how your children respond. Some show clear signs of distress and want to talk to you about it. Others are obviously upset but don’t want to talk to you. Remember, they are stuck in the middle and feel confused about what to do. Getting them some outside help can help them make the transition and build a foundation of greater resilience.

If you face a situation where one parent talks badly about the other, make sure your children get the help they need to understand what is happening and learn to protect themselves from long-term harm. Children need an opportunity to get support from group programs, therapy, or a counselor, so they can talk about their feelings outside of the family. When they discover that others have similar issues, they can talk more freely about their worries. Then they can find ways to become more resilient and make things better. Building your children’s resiliency empowers them to feel in control in difficult situations and helps them find their voice and feel heard.

Decrease Conflict with Better Communication with a Shared Family Calendar App

There may be nothing you can do directly if your ex is saying bad things about you. But you can take some indirect actions. A shared family calendar app provides a buffer for your communication and logistics. You can even have the children use the app to communicate with their other parent. This provides them with some additional protection, too. Consider recommending the 2houses shared family calendar app to your ex for logistical arrangements. This could be the first step to supporting your children as they develop more resilience in two homes.