As you navigate co-parenting and compromise, it is important that everyone gets their fair share of personal time, as well as time with their children. Aside from making sure the child gets to their activities, to school, and so on— there are other important aspects to make sure you satisfy. Creating a healthy co-parenting schedule, and doing it together, is a fantastic means of getting your feet wet with this new arrangement.
Setting a Healthy Co-Parenting Schedule
You can choose to do this before or after you set a custody agreement, depending on what your priority is. If it’s that of having a court-ordered schedule set before you take the time to organize, that’s fine. Or, you choose to make your schedule before taking it to court. This could also could potentially be very mutually beneficial. If you handle this schedule before deciding how custody should go, each parent might feel a bit better about their end of the deal. Shoot, you might not even end up needing to go before a judge straight away. But how should you go about deciding a schedule? Well, it all starts with cooperation and communication.
Make a list of engagements
From your schedule, the other parents schedule, and the kids. Anything that you know will happen on a consistent basis, plan for it. Divide up responsibilities in a way that allows both parents their personal time, and accommodates the child. The key here is respect. Give the other parent the same respect you are hoping for in honoring everyone’s needs. List it all out, divide it all up, decide where to compromise, and put it in writing.
The agreement must be mutually beneficial
If your agreement is not mutually beneficial, it will create trouble. Part of creating a healthy co-parenting schedule is hearing out the other parent and respecting what they need from this agreement as well. Honor their personal time, their engagements, and their hobbies— quite obviously, they should do the same for you. Dad has bowling league Tuesday nights and works late on Thursdays? See what you can do to accommodate that. Mom has book club Saturday morning and teaches a night class on Monday? Give her the same courtesy. If you can compromise with each other and respect what you each need as well as, doing this agreement together will be much easier and more amicable.
Decide Holidays. Now.
Holidays are always the tough part to handle. Everyone wants them, typically co-parents don’t want to do them together, and the first year is always the hardest. But, if you decide them ahead of time when you’re making this agreement, and when emotion is separated— it will be much easier to honor when the time comes. A good rule of them is if one parent gets Christmas Eve and Christmas, give the other parent Thanksgiving and alternate from there. Whatever works for your family, but deciding ahead of time and honoring it will make all the difference.
Respect the agreement you’ve made
When you finally reach a consensus and your agreement is complete and comprehensive, sign it. Print it, date it, and sign it together. Realize that compromises might have to be made. Dad might have to pick up on Mom’s day from time to time, and vice versa. Be flexible when need be, but have a healthy co-parenting schedule to fall back on when you need it. In the end, you’ll save a headache or ten by deciding what happens and when ahead of time.