Sharing parental responsibilities and time equally is normally in a child’s best interests. The benefits of equal parenting time are well-known, and the fact is that the vast majority of Canadians support a legislated presumption for equal shared parenting (absent special circumstances).
That said, even if you share your time equally, it can still be difficult to adjust to not seeing your child all the time. The following tips can help you make the most of your time with your child.
1. Embrace a new normal
Co-parenting is not a Band-Aid. It is a long-term arrangement that will first and foremost be best for the children but it will also be advantageous on many levels for the parents, provided that the parents engage in some level of minimal cooperation and flexibility. Thus, embracing the new normal is optimal. Consider these suggestions:
- Stick to any pre-split routines your child had before the split, like bedtimes and chores.
- Help your child set up their room with things they need for comfort and consistency, so they feel safe and at home with both parents.
- Create a visual calendar that helps you and your child know what is coming up.
Normalizing your new situation can help you and your children reinforce the parent-child connection.
2. Stick to the schedule
Avoid (1) late delivery/pickup; (2) missing exchanges; (3) cutting time short. Those minutes and hours can add up and serve to annoy (or worse) the other parent. Avoid annoying!
If the other parent is routinely late, does not make your child available during your time or shows up early to pick up your child, you should consult your lawyer to investigate what can be done. Sometimes, there are solutions that will not be overly complex.
3. Make use of your time apart
Regardless of how you divide your parenting time, you can use the time you are not with your child in ways that can allow you to be more present when you are with them.
For instance, when your child is with the other parent, consider:
- Tackling home projects that you cannot do with the children around
- Spending time with friends
- Practicing self-care
- Searching for games or activities to engage with your kids or places to take them
You can accomplish a lot more absent direct child care responsibility.
Sharing your child’s residential time can be difficult, but doing so can have enormous benefits. These tips can help you maximize the effectiveness of your parenting time – for your child and for you.