Making a custody schedule is about as fun as stubbing your toe on a Lego or getting food poisoning. However, if you’re divorcing with kids you’ve got to make a schedule that works, which means rolling up your sleeves with your ex and potentially, a mediator or lawyers if needed (hopefully not) and putting it in writing.
The hardest part of all of this is putting your kids before yourself.
It shouldn’t be. I mean, a custody schedule is all about the children, but it’s not uncommon for divorcing parents to let their egos get in the way when making a schedule for their kids.
The bottom line is, of course, you and your ex need to consider your own personal needs and work schedules, but the kids’ needs have to come first.
Here are a few tips to keep your ego in check and put your kids first:
At the heart of it all, kids’ lives should be disrupted as little as possible. They already had no control over the divorce, to begin with, and so now their lives should be as similarly structured as it can feasibly be.
So, keep in mind things like:
No matter what, keep things as similar as you can. There will be enough changes in their lives that the less disruption, the better.
Don’t ask for people’s opinions on your schedule, unless it is a trusted person who has also been divorced or a teacher or counselor who would understand the impact to your kids.
If you look to the peanut gallery for opinions, you’ll start to drift perspective from your kids’ point of views, to others’.
Everyone wants to share in the fun of the holidays and when parents have to split these special days, it is incredibly hard.
If you can share the day of a major holiday or split it—like Christmas for example—do it! Alternate other holidays fairly and you can always use a court suggested holiday schedule as well.
When it comes to birthdays, kids should see both parents if possible but sometimes, distance and work supersedes this. If that’s the case, make sure the other parent or you (whoever doesn’t have the child on that day) get to see the child ASAP.
If your former partner is a horrible parent and by horrible, I mean:
feel free to fight for majority custody.
But, if you just don’t like your ex and are mad because he cheated or he left you and you didn’t want the divorce, don’t use this anger as leverage when making a custody schedule.
If two parents want desperately to have time with their children, consider that blessing. Some kids don’t have two parents dying for time with them. Some kids end up with one of their parents deserting them after divorce.
Put aside your feelings and think about your kids. They want to see both parents. They don’t care if you don’t like your ex or vice versa.
It should always be about what is best for them.
If you know that your kid goes to bed by seven every night but you work late, perhaps you should try to get more weekend time instead of picking up your little one late and then, having a cranky child the next day.
If your ex travels during the school week, perhaps he or she should get more weekend or break time, rather than leaving the kids with a nanny during the week.
Consider your kids’ routines and how a schedule will impact them.
Again—the less change, the better off for your kids.
If you are the primary parent and your ex’s parents are dying to see their grandkids yet your ex rarely sees your kids—don’t cut out grandma and grandpa.
Both parents should do what they can to make sure children do not miss family birthdays and big events—even if it means switching weekends or changing up the schedule temporarily.
Making a custody schedule takes love and care from two grown adults who want to live happy lives separately, yet still see their kids blossom and grow after the marriage is done. When you put your kids’ needs first during a divorce, your kids will thrive and adjust to this huge change.
Egos are not pretty—so let your inner beauty shine and put those kids first. You will be glad you did!
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