When you share kids but don’t live together, creating a parenting plan can be a difficult task, especially when those kids are young, or you have longer holiday vacations to divvy up. Because older children more easily understand what’s happening, even if they don’t enjoy the situation, you at least avoid trying to explain a confusing subject. Young children just register that something feels different through their emotions, which can be hard to manage when they don’t grasp the reason why they’re suddenly only seeing one parent at a time in different homes.
When child custody and visitation are split between coparents, the best way to handle it for young children is by creating a manageable schedule you can each follow no matter which parent your child is with. Knowing what to generally expect can minimize disagreements in addition to helping ease your children’s anxiety.
Simplifying coparenting of infants and toddlers
Young children can be very temperamental making your job as parents harder. Now split that job among two parents who are individually trying to juggle things alone and the time you and your child spend together may not be enjoyable for either of you. Successful coparenting takes cooperated planning.
Parent in tandem
Don’t work against each other. No matter how satisfying you may think it is to return a cranky child with a half full diaper bag, it’s not fair to your son or daughter and just sets the stage for future coparenting difficulties. Instead, discuss then set a mutual routine that will keep your child on a schedule. Not only will this make your baby or toddler happier and healthier, but it will allow you each to better schedule activities around set feedings and sleeping. There will always be unpredictability with kids so you have to be prepared that some things still won’t go off without a hitch, but overall, you’ll all be in much better shape to make it through the day with a smile instead of frustration.
Shorten visits for younger children
When your kids are small, they don’t register time. They just know when someone they’re used to seeing is missing and it can be unsettling to them. It’s a change in their routine that they can’t comprehend. While older kids may welcome the change of scenery and having one-on-one time with each parent for a week or two at s time, smaller children do better with shorter visits between homes so they don’t feel so overwhelmed by the change. Psychologists recommend short but frequent visits with the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. This allows you both to build a bond with your child but on terms he or she can adjust to.
Keep each other informed
One of the worst feelings of knowing you don’t have your little children with you full time is knowing that you’re going to miss certain “firsts.” Maybe your child’s first word or first steps will come when he or she is with your coparent, or maybe the other parent will be the one who misses out. Learning to share milestones in your child’s life with each other can mean your relationship after divorce will improve and that neither of you will feel as though you’re missing out on much of your child’s life.
Keep each other in the loop by:
- Video chatting while trying to encourage your baby or toddler to repeat the action.
- Sending photos and test messages with regular updates.
- Being cordial if your coparent wants to call or initiate a video chat to hear the details.
- Keeping a diary or log of little things that happen while your child is in your care and sending it back and forth so you can both contribute.
Young children grow quickly so it’s quite easy to miss out on things even if you’re not there for just one day. Sharing the responsibilities of raising a child means sharing information and putting your own feelings aside even if you no longer care for your son’s or daughter’s other parent.
If you simply cannot obtain a level of exchanging pleasantries with your ex that will allow for regular interaction, at a minimum, send an email with updates while your child is with you and something exciting happens. You would want the same consideration given to you if the shoe was on the other foot and you’re going to be raising your child together for a long time. Setting the tone for coparenting now can make both of your lives easier in the long run.
Schedule your consultation today with one of our knowledgeable Knoxville family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter by calling our office at 865-637-6258, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.