Many parents panic with the thought of 50/50 shared parenting as they picture a whole week without seeing their children.
I hear many parents saying it just won’t work because;
1. I can’t be away from my children for more than 3 nights
2. My kids are use to seeing me every day
3. I have always been there for them after school
And so on….
Many parents can’t visualise how 50/50 might work, they immediately think it won’t!
Let’s look at various schedules that provide 50/50 equal shared parenting –
Examples 2 & 3 have short overnight blocks of 2 or 3 nights which accommodates the need “I can’t be away from the children for more than 3 nights” It also enables the phased transition to example 1 which is 7 nights straight week on week off when the family have adjusted to shared parenting.
Parents may feel younger children might cope with examples 2 or 3 so as not to be away from either parent for too long. Older children may prefer the week on week off as it is less disruption to their routine.
You know what would suit your children best, but it is important to think of the impact to the children rather than the impact to you as a parent.
Of course, as a parent you will miss your children when you don’t have them, but that goes for both parents. It is an adjustment for the whole family, especially the children. That’s where a phased approach may ease the transition to longer nights away over time. For example, you may agree in your parenting plan to example 2 or 3 to commence shared parenting with example 1 commencing after 12 months.
To overcome the need “I have always been there for them after school” you may agree for a parent to pick the children up from school every day and the other parent pick them up on their way home from work. This enables the children to see both parents physically each day as well as save money on after school care.
To overcome the need “My kids are used to seeing me every day” you may decide that facetime calls are sufficient and agree that every day at 6pm you will have a facetime chat with the children to be part of their daily life to hear all about their day.
Your children will miss you too, so it is important for them to be able to speak to the other parent when they are away or be encouraged to draw a picture for the other parent to take to them when they go back to stay.
As you explore options for shared parenting with your coparent, listen out to the other parents concerns to see how it can be overcome so they can see how it might work.
Shared parenting continues into the school holidays and may be the same schedule as school term or you may shift to the 7 nights on/off to have the opportunity to go away on holidays camping, on an interstate trip or an overseas holiday.
Ensure that you don’t fight over time with kids as this will just make them feel guilty that the arguments are always about them and that it is their fault. Your kids shouldn’t be made to decide who they want to be with as they won’t want to hurt either parent in such a difficult choice. They are loyal and love you, so generally want to be with you both…… so as parents make sure you take on the responsibility to make that happen for them.
Pre-mediation coaching sessions can help prepare you for parenting mediation to alleviate fears, be child focused and shift from problem to solution focus. Learn more here
Children should be able to look back at their childhood and know their parents created two loving homes for them to thrive, not a contentious battle they had to survive!
Author - Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, NMAS Mediator & Parenting Coordinator