Setting a parenting schedule can be one of the biggest, most stressful issues that arise if you are getting divorced and children are involved in the relationship. The key is creating a parenting schedule that is most conducive to everyone involved which means you, especially your children, any other caretakers (babysitters, grandparents, etc.), and yes… even your ex. Think about it…your ex will be much more pleasant to deal with if he or she is relatively happy. You just have to find a happy medium.
Parenting Schedules – Things to Consider
There are many different options for parenting schedules. For example, you could do:
- every other day;
- one week on/one week off;
- 3 night with one parent and 4 nights with the other;
- the primary parent gets kids during the school week and alternate weekends;
- a parent who only had weekends with the children could get the children for a few dinners during the week; etc.
The list of scheduling scenarios goes on and on. When determining a schedule that’s best for your it’s typically most important to keep the ages of kids in mind. The older your children get, the more activities they have and the more unpredictable their schedules become. Once kids start reaching 8 and 9 years old they want to spend more and more time with friends. This can be disappointing for the parent who only gets weekend time or doesn’t get as much time but as the other parent, you just have to take a step back and look again at the best interest of your children. Socializing with peers is imperative to their success in life.
Parenting Schedule Logistics
What time does soccer practice end again?
Who’s picking up who?
What time does practice end?
What times does dad get off work?
Schedules can get crazy so keeping a calendar is always a good idea. I recommend creating a Google calendar that can be color coordinated and easily share with whoever needs access. All the details of the events can be logged into the entry and invites can be sent out that way too. There’s lots of room for notes and comments. You can also create repeating events easily or calculate which weekends each parent gets if you are looking at dates far into the future. It’s a good way to avoid confusion.
If you do keep an online calendar, make sure you check it every day and keep it updated.
Mediation – We Can’t Agree, Now What?
Mediation is usually suggested for parties to work through different scenarios and discuss their options. Trained family law mediators typically have some creative ideas that can help resolve scheduling issues. With the vast number of families they help, they’ve seen it all.
Court Ordered Parenting Schedules – What Happens If We Can’t Decide?
If you truly cannot come to an agreement with your ex and efforts to mediate does not help. The courts will, unfortunately, be forced to determine the parenting schedule for you. The court will either give you and/or your attorney the opportunity to argue your position, and after hearing all the testimony and evidence, a judge will make the final decision.
This is usually not the most favorable outcome for either party because although the Judge attempts to find the best solution, he/she is not the one living it day in and day out. They usually just make a quick decision that appears most reasonable. I recommend avoiding this and trying your best to reach an agreement. If you attempt the Judge’s ordered schedule and it is not working, you can still try to come to reach an agreement with your ex and go back to court to request a change.
Calendars Constantly Change – Be Flexible!
Schedules can be hard to keep up with especially when they change. As kids get older, their schedules seem to get more and more packed. Don’t forget that just because you set a schedule it doesn’t mean it won’t ever change. You constantly have to make adjustments to keep up with what works best. Jobs changes, school schedules adjust during holidays, people move, and summers create even more options.
Summer Is a Great Opportunity for Quality Time
Summertime is typically a good time to take advantage of quality time. Maybe do one week on and one week off since school is out and you can do more fun outdoor activities with your kids. They grow up fast so be sure to really soak up the sun with them. All these factors can cause the need to sit down with your child’s other parent and discuss what works best right now.
My biggest piece of advice is to try your hardest to work together with your ex because it will (1) make your life less stressful, and (2) it’s good to show your children you can work together. Your kids are always watching both of their parents so show them you can work things out and doing what’s in their best interest is the primary concern. Create a positive environment for your family.