Breaking up is hard to do. Even when it’s amicable. And when children are involved, it’s always harder. If you’re reading this you’re probably open to the idea that custody arrangements are changing and that there is a significant move away from the ‘mum gets the kids and dad sees them every other weekend’ patterns of the last few decades. Believe me, that’s a good thing. It’s also tough. Tough to share your kids, but you know what, it’s tougher for them if they don’t see both parents.
I run Rolling Stone Coaching, the UK’s only co-parent coaching practice, and I work with parents to help you change your perspectives and manage your emotions so you are able to look at things from the point of view of your kids. Which means that you can make decisions that are less emotionally charged and more transactional. And that’s the ideal place to get to.
I see several different kinds of care patterns and it really does depend on the geography of where both parents live. Here are some ideas to help you make a decision that works for all of you: Oh and before you read, remember that when the children aren’t with you that there is an opportunity there. It may feel hideous when they go, but in that time I really encourage parents to take on experiences that enrich their lives. It’s not easy, but it will help.
Living within 45 minutes of each other
The most common arrangement
Definitely aim for every other weekend with each parent. Ideally a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, (if school drops can be managed easily on Monday mornings) and also one or two nights in the week. Remember homework will need to be managed too as well as after-school clubs, so make sure that you can both accommodate this.
Week on / Week off
Some parents who I see do a week on and a week off. This is not for everybody and I would advise this for families where communication is not an issue. So if the kids are with one parent and the other wants to FaceTime them, or the kids want to FaceTime their other parent, then there should be no restrictions on doing so. A week is a long time, especially for a young child.
A 3-4 split
This is a trickier one to navigate because of weekends. And it always looks different from month to month, but if your children can get their heads round it and they can see and they know where they are going to be from one week to the next then it can be managed.
Fortnightly 1: Monday – Thursday (parent one) Thursday – Sunday (parent two)
Fortnightly 2: Thursday – Sunday (parent one) Monday – Thursday (parent two)
And once a month it works out that both parents will have a full week with the kids.
Living further away.
It depends how far, but definitely aim for every other weekend, and then have two evenings a week minimum to speak to the parent who they are not with. And I advise supplementing some of the school holidays here so the parent who sees the kids less, has the option to make up some (not all) of the days through the holidays.
The thing to remember is to try not to restrict the contact with the other parent. It’s your choice that you are divorcing, not your children’s. Why should they have to limit their access to their mum or dad just because you want to?
Get in touch if you want to talk more.