In the divorce mediation process, my ex and I discussed several options for custody of our kids, including visitation schedules. We went through different options and debated back and forth on who gets what holidays. We agreed to a 50/50 joint custody and visitation schedule that in the long-run has provided many benefits to our children.
As you’re working through your divorce and custody options, here are five benefits we’ve discovered to 50/50 custody:
1. Our children get to see both parents and for a decent period of time.
My ex and I have a 5/5/2 schedule. He has Monday and Tuesday, I have Wednesday and Thursday and we each have every other weekend. This schedule allows our kids to have the same amount of available time with each of us. It also helps them plan and think about school events or activities with friends.
They have to consider where they will be, plan ahead and work with each parent on plans. Last minute plans don’t happen as often which should help them in their adult life of trying to plan ahead and more importantly the time spent at each house is fair.
2. Our children get the best of your time when they are with you.
As a 50/50 parent, I do all the work, running and nurturing when the kids are at my house. Even on his days, I do a lot of that. So on the days, my kids aren’t physically at my house, I get groceries, I clean and I run mundane errands.
That way when the kids are home, our time can be spent together on what matters to them, not on stuff I can handle when they are gone. They get more attention and we get more laughs and interaction.
3. Our children get your best energy.
The safety lecture on the airplane tells us to put on our mask on first and then assist children. Taking care of yourself is absolutely necessary anyway, but especially in a 50/50 custody situation. Find a friend who’ll have dinner with you, chill with a movie night in complete silence or take a weekend trip you wouldn’t take with the kids.
This will help make you the best you which means your kids get your best when they are home. My kids deserve to see my best energy and attitude. Not my tiredness and negativity.
4. Our children feel supported during the holidays.
Holidays are a tough time for kids of divorced parents. They find themselves wondering “where I’ll be” and “how will I get from place to place.” My ex and I split the day as often as we can for major holidays. This allows them to spend time with both families. We can do this because our families live close, but even in a 50/50 custody situation where the family is not close, you can organize holidays in ways that make it easy for the kids.
You can have an alternating holiday schedule so your kids can spend time equally with each parent every year or you can work it out year-to-year. Whatever makes it easiest for the kids and helps them feel best supported during an already tough time works.
5. Our children have a set schedule.
When my kids went to daycare as infants and toddlers, they never took naps on the weekend because they were out of their regular schedule. With 50/50 custody and visitation, kids know exactly what to expect of their schedule and when. They learn how to plan ahead about what to wear and take from house to house or what we need to duplicate and leave at each house – toiletries, clothes or otherwise.
Kids also benefit from knowing they have the flexibility and right to go to mom or dad’s to get something if they forget, even within their set schedule. That’s important anytime, but when it’s 50/50, allowing flexibility in the schedule makes things easier for your children.