6 Ways to Maintain Consistency with Co-Parenting
When it comes to raising a child, any parent knows, consistency is key. But how does this work with two household families? If you have recently been through a divorce, you know just finding a sense of normalcy can seem like an overwhelming task in its own right. The good news is, children are resilient, and they will adapt as you figure things out. However, the more consistency and predictability you can provide, the easier time they will have. If you’re struggling, there are a few changes you can make to make things easier. Here are a few things you can do to help maintain consistency with co-parenting:
Create a schedule
If you are going through a divorce with children, one of the first things you need to do is create a schedule. A parenting plan will outline where the children will stay on what days and what times. It will include everything from weekly rotations and holidays to summer vacations. This type of schedule not only helps you keep track of when your own parenting time is, but it also helps your children develop a predictable routine.
In this regard, it’s important to try to stick as close to this schedule as possible. Naturally, there will be emergencies or times when it makes sense to swap days, but frequent changes can be disruptive to your child’s sense of security. For older children, if you need to make a change, let your child know about the change as soon as possible and try not to deviate from that plan.
Foster open communication
After a divorce, you don’t have to be friends, but you do need to be friendly. For better or worse, you and your ex will need to have some sort of relationship until your child turns 18. The more you can keep things civil, the easier it will be to communicate about important issues.
While it may seem natural to keep things separate and let either parent do their own thing, try to develop a system where you can keep each other informed of major items. If your child is struggling with a particular homework assignment, let your ex know. Did they get disciplined in school? It’s important for both parents to be involved. The two of you share a child. When both parents know what is going on, it’s easier to maintain consistency.
Don’t be afraid to talk about discipline
Discipline is a sensitive topic after divorce. There’s often a stance, “I’ll do what I want in my own house.” And this is fair, to a degree. You shouldn’t expect to be able to tell your ex what to do when it is not your parenting time. However, it is always a good idea to talk about how you would like to handle discipline.
This mainly comes into play for big events. For minor altercations within the home, discipline is a personal choice. When it comes to things like grades, school issues, or dangerous behavior, the more consistency there is, the better. When parents can talk about what happened and come to an agreement about what is going to happen at each home, the child won’t feel like they can get away with something with one parent or the other.
The same thing goes in regards to your child’s behavior. If you notice something is wrong or your child is exhibiting negative behavior, give the other parent a heads up. This will help alert the other parent to the issue and make sure you can each address it while the child is with you.
Develop your own routines
It’s a lot for a child to go back and forth between two houses. But this part is out of your control. What you can control is what happens at your house. A routine can help establish stability and lessen the constant feeling of disruption. Try to set a schedule and keep to it for daily tasks. This includes:
- After school activities
You don’t have to hammer things down to the minute, but when you create a routine, your child knows what to expect. If you can agree with your ex when it comes to things like homework and bedtime, even better.
Talk to your ex about extracurriculars
Sports and after school activities are a great way to keep kids active and give them a place to have fun. They are also a great way to develop consistency. However, it’s typically a good idea to talk to the other parent before you sign your child up for any extracurriculars. Sports demand a commitment. When a child is spending time in two houses, the schedules may not always align. Ideally, both parents will agree on the child’s involvement and the time commitment it requires. If both parents can’t agree to get the child to all events, the activity may be more disruptive than it is beneficial.
Limit big changes
There’s no question, major changes can be difficult for a child to adapt to. Things like moving, custody changes, or changing schools can be a big deal. If you can, try to limit these types of changes as much as possible. When it comes to issues regarding custody, try to come to an agreement out of court. Your attorney or a mediator can help you and your spouse come to an agreement. If you are planning on moving, make sure everyone has plenty of notice and make sure you abide by any restrictions in your custody agreement.
Know when to bring in an attorney
Divorce and custody cases are a complicated matter. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you create a schedule and help you set up a routine that works for you and your child. If you need help setting up a parenting time schedule or you need help with your current one, the law firm of Betsy A. Fischer, LLC can help. Contact our office at 504-780-8232 or the firm’s website to schedule your initial consultation.