If you and your co-parent are sharing custody of your children, it’s wise to make the transitions from one home to the other as smooth and pleasant as possible – particularly for your kids. These exchanges, and the entire day, can be stressful and probably sad if you’re sending your child off for a couple of days or longer.
It’s essential not to convey any of those negative feelings to your children. They shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving you or about being excited to see their other parent. Let’s look at a few things you can do to make these transitions easier for everyone.
Plan the exchanges carefully
You and your co-parent should know how the exchanges will work. Who is dropping off and picking up? Will you be meeting at a neutral spot midway between your homes? Tell your kids the plan so they’ll know what to expect.
Don’t use these exchanges as a time to air your grievances or frustrations. Even if this is the only time you see your co-parent, this isn’t the place to talk about overdue child support or your ex’s new girlfriend.
Make sure your children have everything they need
It’s best if your children can have some items at both homes so they don’t have to spend their transition days packing and unpacking a bag. However, if they have special items they’re never without, like a toy or doll, make sure they aren’t left behind. If a child will be attending a birthday party, has a school project they’ll need to work on or will be playing in a soccer game, be sure they have everything they need while they’re at their other home.
If you’re still in the process of creating your parenting plan, you may choose to seek some provisions that will lay out expectations for these exchanges. You can also ask for a modification to your existing plan. Transition guidelines can help prevent confusion and conflict that can lead kids to dread these days. Your attorney can help you.