20 Tips To Successful Co-Custody Parenting
Co-custody is the best way for two parents that are separated to figure things out. Being separated, going through a divorce and sharing custody, sharing children isn’t always easy. Trying to do the best for the kids sometimes means sucking it up, taking the high road and ignoring jabs from your ex. I can tell you a million stories of undermined, backstabbing, hurtful things I’d dealt with and my friends have too. There was a reason for the split up and many times hard feelings. Especially in the beginning. That doesn’t mean you can’t get beyond the arguing and hate in order to get along better. Here are some ideas that hopefully work for you, your ex and the children.
Sync Your Calender’s
1- Make sure you are on the same page with school calendars, sport calendars, field trips, music lessons, etc. This does not mean you have to tell your ex about every appointment. You are not their secretary. But make sure they have the information available. When I sign my daughter up for track registration I make sure I add my ex’s email as well as mine for the notifications and newsletters. Same with school.
2-Make sure when you are filing out paperwork for doctors and dentists both parent’s information is on the papers.
3- Figure out how to split holidays and vacation days. If you can’t agree, let the courts or mediation help you decide. If one parent forfeits a weekend or their time (they are busy at work, have other plans etc) than you do not have to give them other time. But if you can get along enough, it doesn’t hurt. In the future you might ask the same of them.
4- If kids have IEP’s, are seeing a counselor, have essential appointments, like speech therapy, etc. Make sure things are discussed with the other parent.
Two Houses- Who’s Rules
5- Ideally you’d have the same rules at both houses. You can try this, at least. If not, make sure you have each other’s back. It never does the kids good to undermine each other’s parenting.
6-If you have polar opposites in parenting and your ex is a ‘Disneyland Dad’ than you can’t compete. You sometimes have to explain to your kids that rules at their other parent’s house don’t apply at your house. Don’t put down the rules at the other house. Just make sure you have clear rules at hour house.
7-When communicating with him, use ‘your house’ and ‘my house’ … not ‘Home’ as in ‘When will you bring the kids home?’
Birthdays, Play Dates & Social Calendars
8-When kids are young and invited to a birthday party of someone at school, sports, etc. than it is up to the parent that has custody at the time of the party if they want to bring them. If it is an event for your family or one of your friend’s kids, where you’d be attending too, than do not ask to take the kids to the party on your ex’s time.
Take The High Road
9- Believe me, this can be so hard. But this is your ex. Don’t waste your time or energy fighting. You do not have to be BFF’s with your ex, or even friends. But it is best if you get along.
10- If you can’t get along find other ways to communicate. Text and email work for some. Having an app with a shared calendar like COZI makes it where you can color code by person, share calendars and make sure no appointments are missed.
11- If you are having a lot of he-said-she-said and fighting with lawyers than you might want to use a program for communication with each other like Talking Parents. It is a free program that keeps track of conversations between parents and can be used in courts.
12- All in all, do not engage. Do not let your ex bait you into an argument (and don’t do it to them). Especially if it is ‘back when you were married things.’
13- Treat each other the way you want to be treated.
14- When discussing things, like medical co-pays, stick to the facts. Instead of telling parents what they owe for medical, just email them the receipt and tell them an update, like ‘no cavities, appointment went well.’
15- Ignore the little things… and a lot of them are little things. For most things- it isn’t worth the energy.
Keep Adult Conversations Out of Hearing Range
16- If you need to discuss adult conversations with your ex (money, custody, something you are mad at, etc) do not do it in front of the children. Don’t put them in the middle of it.
17-Do not vent to your kids. Blaming their other parent for things, complaining about shortcomings, flaking, money, etc only puts your kids in the middle. If you ex has major shortcomings (or is a POS) the kids will figure it out on their own. You don’t need to be the one to tell them.
18- If you need to vent- do it with your friends. But, again, not around your kids. Don’t make it a habit to spend every hangout with friends to vent. Remember to enjoy your life too.
Getting Along Can Be A Good Thing
Sometimes ex’s can look beyond everything in the past and get along. Even be friends. Some of you reading this is thinking I’m crazy. Maybe it is wishful thinking.
19- Coordinate gifts so there are no duplicates. Going in together on gifts that are pricey. Giving the other parent extra time on their birthday or when out of town family is vising. Learn to give in order to receive.
20- -Do not call all the time to check in on the kids, or chat with them when they are with their other parent. Give them time to chat, hang out and have their own family time without you interrupting.
All in all, even if you don’t get along well, hopefully as time passes things will calm down and you can figure out a routine that works for everyone. Co-custody parenting isn’t always for the faint hearted. But it is the best way to parent when you have two families.