Your children are at the front of your mind during the divorce process, of course. You wonder how you’re going to make it work with your soon-to-be-ex once you’re separated. You have mental images of the weekends and holidays you’ll have to go through without them.
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Making a working co-parenting schedule can be a challenge in itself, but at least it provides a sense of peace in knowing when you’ll get to enjoy time with your children.
Even if you don’t think you need a formal schedule, you do! Regardless of whether you divorce through mediation, litigation, or the collaborative process, you need a schedule in place. Things change, and having a schedule set in stone will provide consistency for not only you but also the kids.
So, what makes a good parenting schedule?
A good co-parenting schedule is one that’s created before you get divorced so as to avoid a court-ordered arrangement. If you wait too long, you’ll have to go back to court to mandate any changes in the schedule.
It also includes information about weekdays, weekends, holidays, special occasions, travel, and transportation logistics.
Anything you think might be important is good to include in the plan for the sake of creating a holistic blueprint.
Simple Tips For Creating a Co-Parenting Schedule that Actually Works
- Make the children top priority. By keeping them in mind, you’ll be able to create a plan that works in their best interest. That means ample time with both parents and a system that works with their current schedule. Keeping them in a routine will help make the transition easier, so having something laid out for them will act as a tool in reinforcing the routine.
- Be realistic when it comes to logistics. Transportation and logistics are absolutely crucial, or else the plan will never work. For example, planning to swap kids on a night when your ex works late will be hard on everyone. This also means considering their belongings going back and forth between houses. Think of ways you can make this easy on everyone, not just you.
- Use a calendar. An actual calendar will help you see any scheduling issues or holidays you may not have thought of. Seeing it laid out in order will also bring peace of mind because of its visual nature. Many parents use google calendar or text message apps (Talking Parents, Our Family Wizard, Fabyr, Co-parenter) which include calendars within the app.
- Be flexible on things like vacation and holidays. These are things that will inevitably come up. You should be prepared to share your kids’ holiday time with your ex, and also think about vacations they may want to take with their other parent. By being flexible with your ex, they’ll be more flexible with you. That way, everyone gets a turn celebrating Christmas and Spring Break with the kids!
- Don’t get stuck. If you go into your schedule creation with a fixed idea of what you want your time with your children to look like, you might get stuck with an obstacle comes your way. Don’t tie yourself to a one-size-fits-all way of thinking, since every family is different. Allowing for unique solutions to come into play can turn challenges into blessings.
While co-parenting is a big and sometimes difficult change to make, by planning ahead of time and preparing for obstacles, you’ll be better equipped to manage the transition and stay strong during your new routine.
If you’re looking for co-parenting schedule assistance in your mediation, consider working with the experienced attorneys at Natalie Baird Mediations. We accept all challenges with open arms and a mindset of making it work!