Writing a Co-Parenting Schedule That Works (Even During the Holidays)
Divorce is one of life’s most challenging events. There are myriads of responsibilities involved such as moving, dividing property, and learning how to cope emotionally. However, one challenge that often stands out after a divorce is the state in which it leaves children.
During a divorce, a child’s world may seem to them to be crumbling into pieces; life may not seem like it will ever be the same again. The good news is you can prevent such a gloomy outlook from setting in. You and your ex-spouse can provide solutions — but you must put your differences aside and work towards piecing their world back together.
Creating a Co-Parenting Schedule That Works
One of the best ways to help your children is by creating a co-parenting schedule. Below are seven tips to help you create an exceptional schedule that will guide your co-parenting efforts:
1. Make a plan.
As the famous saying goes, failing to plan is similar to making a plan that leads to your failure. This principle applies to many aspects of our lives and the parenting arena is no different, especially for parents who have gone through a divorce. Your schedule should incorporate a parenting plan that’s composed of long-term goals, short-term goals, and some general guidelines. The plan should also allow for differences in opinion that will arise when you’re settling into new and individual routines.
The best approach is to make time to create a plan rather than waiting for the court to issue a deadline. A divorcing couple that has an already agreed-upon co-parenting plan saves the judge time to concentrate on other unresolved issues. The parents involved also present themselves as mature, stable adults.
2. Include a workable routine in your plan.
Consistency and structure are key to bringing about comfort and ease for all affected by the co-parenting plan. For younger children, routines assist them in coping with life as a whole, especially at a time when there may be many uncertainties. Your plan should have a framework that defines how rules will be kept consistent between the two households involved.
3. Don’t use child support and parenting time as a weapon or prize.
In your co-parenting plan, ensure that the time you seek to have with your children is a result of a desire and capability to nurture them — rather than intended as a hurtful act to your co-parent. The same applies to child support. Ensure the dollar amounts indicated in your co-parenting plan are truly enough to care for the needs of your children — and not short because you wish to make your co-parent to suffer lack. Given that around 41% of first marriages end up in a divorce, this principle should be mandatory for couples with children as they create a co-parenting plan.
4. Record communication with your co-parent.
Always be in constant communication with your co-parent. In the plan you create, consider an inclusion that communications you have with one another will be recorded. The best approach is to always communicate using mediums that have a record of what you have discussed. You can use texts, emails or even systems such as “Our Family Wizard” (if you want to share data concerning your children).This approach will prevent miscommunication and provide clarification during disputes. In addition, if your children have chronic conditions, medical information that has been relayed using the above methods can be retrieved and help both parents provide better care in emergency situations.
5. Include a mediator in your co-parenting plan.
Try to agree upon a mediator — this person can help tackle the hot issues that could lead you back to court. Some of these issues include religious disputes, disagreement over education, and even spending time away from your home. With a mediator in your co-parenting plan, however, you will be able to save money that you would have spent on lawyers. Additionally, mediators often take a more conciliatory (rather than adversarial) approach.
6. Be realistic about the holidays.
Holiday-related expectations may bring contention, even in the healthiest of co-parenting relationships. Therefore, one of the most vital topics to address in your co-parenting plan is the holiday season and how related activities should be handled. Most of the time, you will have to deal with both your ex-spouse and his or her extended family (many marriages last for eight years before ending in divorce, so a couple’s children are often still minors and may require care and attention from your ex-spouse’s family).
Do your best to consider the traditions you’ve honored in the past because your co-parent and children will likely want to continue them. For this to work without enmity, it’s best to plan which parent will have the kids for which periods of time during a holiday. Some opt to allow their children to spend the majority of a holiday with one co-parent — and then the opposite co-parent would have the kids for the next holiday.
7. Be flexible but specific.
In order for your co-parenting schedule to work, you have to be flexible to accommodate the changes that will arise. You will also need to set ground rules in your co-parenting plan to help you and your ex have a civil relationship — even after divorce.If you are concerned about your future as a co-parent, it is best that your co-parenting schedule be specific and detailed. Specify which times are allocated for each co-parent to spend with the kids (especially during holidays). Writing down all these details may seem tedious, but it will save you unnecessary grief in the future.
Co-parenting can be one of the biggest challenges facing divorced parents, especially when all parties have been hurt and scarred. However, to avoid carrying negative emotions forward and to prevent them from barricading any progress after the divorce, a co-parenting plan should be created. This will ensure the optimum outcome for both co-parents as well as healthy readjustment for the children involved.
About the Author: Kevin Nelson is a professional educator and a private tutor with over eight years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media, and blogging. Currently, Kevin works as a part-time writer for www.EssayWriterSite.com. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+.