As parents, all we care about is protecting our kids and keeping them safe. One of the most challenging times for them is divorce. When marriages don’t work out, we still have to have a relationship with our exes for the sake of the kids. If you and your ex-spouse are lucky enough to have come to a cordial agreement in your divorce, it’s likely that when it comes to the kids, you’ve decided the best arrangement is joint custody. As great as that is, joint custody will still be an adjustment. As a result, it’s important to lay it out right so it doesn’t add stress to the family as a whole. Here are some tips for making joint custody easier on the kids.
Making Joint Custody Easier on the Kids
We’ve all heard the joke about kids of divorce having two bedrooms and two of everything, and that seems fun and all, but it can cause a lot of chaos and instability in our kids lives if we’re not intentional about how we handle it and how we manage the arrangement. You can take a look at some sample custody schedules to get an idea of how to set it up. If you haven’t reached the stage of even knowing the arrangement to make with your ex, especially if emotions are still running high, consider talking to attorneys who can offer valuable advice on joint physical custody.
Communicate With the Kids
As much as it’s important to talk to the lawyers and come up with the best arrangement, talking to your kids is also a very important step you need to take before making any moves. Ask your kids how they feel about things, talk to them about what would make them more comfortable in the set-up and don’t have an agenda. The only thing that should matter is making sure your kids are okay. Here them out and compromise with your ex to help them.
Consider Living Near Your Ex
One of the things Divorced Mommy Blog founder, Julie Ciardi says helped her kids adjust to the co-parenting arrangement she has with her ex was for them to live near each other. Now this doesn’t have to mean living on the same street, but you can live a 10-minute drive apart, which can help your kids still feel like they are still in the same neighborhood and have a level of familiarity. This is an arrangement that will make things likes pickups and drop-offs a lot easier to coordinate. It also means that if your daughter forgets her ballet slippers at her dad’s, it’s a short distance to retrieve them and save the day!
Respect Each Other’s Time
Never make your ex feel like they are just a visitor in the lives of the kids. That means you both have to respect the time each person has with your kids. If they’ve already made plans, don’t try to breeze in and change them. If you’ve agreed that a plan is going to happen, stick to it. We can’t be selfish and try to keep our kids to ourselves when they have two parents they should spend time with. So make sure you honor the time your kids have with your ex because it’s important.
Communicate With Each Other
Even when we don’t want to be around our exes, for the sake of our children we have to be able to keep a line of communication open. That means cordial, civilized communication, not yelling, name-calling, or being disrespectful. If you still have a lot of emotions running high, consider talking to a mediator or a psychologist so you can get that handled, and get back to being parents who put the kids first.
Whether we’re together or not, our former spouses will always be family. No matter how bad things go with our exes, our kids still love them and everything we do should always put our them first. When we’re dealing with joint custody agreements, it’s important that we consider their feelings and how they are processing the divorce. It’s challenging for our kids to get used to us not being together, and how we simplify it is by handling it with maturity and respect for each other. An acrimonious divorce and ugly custody fight does nothing to make our children happier, if anything it gives them trauma and might lead to them feeling responsible for what’s happening. If you need to sit down with experts, or get your kids to talk with professionals, consider doing that. It is possible to make life after divorce peaceful and even happy and fulfilling for everyone.