There’s a big “C word” in the shared parenting world: custody. Parents love their children so much, and it’s hard to be satisfied with the time you have. Whether it’s 80% or 20%, it never feels like enough. Have you heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short?” When you share custody, the days feel short too. You savor every day you get with your children, which actually works out better for the kids. But that’s a topic for another day… Today we’re focusing on custody arrangements.
The most important factor when creating a custody schedule for your children is creating a plan that’s best for your children. That will look different for each family, but its importance remains unchanged. As with many things in shared parenting, custody is not one size fits all. For example, our custody schedule has a different schedule for school year and for summer. We also have 3 different weekly schedules each month during the school year, which can get pretty confusing, but it’s definitely what’s best for my stepdaughter. It allows her optimal time with each parent and long weekends at each of our houses so we can each have uninterrupted off-time with her.
If you’re struggling to determine the best arrangement for your family, take a look at the list of common custody schedules below. Even if you don’t find the perfect fit, it’ll still spark your imagination and get the ball rolling.
A Quick Reference to Common Custody Schedules
With a 50/50 schedule, both parents will be able to have custody of the children fifty percent of the time. The most common of these arrangements is week on/week off; Mom has custody for one week and then Dad for the next week. However, if one whole week seems too long to go without seeing your children, there is also the option of a 3-4-4-3 schedule. For the first week Parent A will have the children for the first three days, and Parent B will have them for the remaining four days. The following week Parent A will then have custody for four days and Parent B will have the children the last three days. Another common 50/50 schedule is the 2-2-3 rotation. Parent A has the child for 2 days, Parent B has the child for 2 days, and then Parent A will have the child for the three day weekend; the following week, they switch. Another arrangement I’ve seen work really well is Parent A having every Monday and Tuesday and every other Friday through Sunday; this gives Parent B equal time with every Wednesday and Thursday and every other long weekend.
Sometimes parents may find themselves working extra hours, which leaves them unable to have much time with their children. In this instance, the 80/20 schedule can be beneficial. The children will live with Parent A. This means most of their belongings will be at one home. The children will live with Parent A, but will stay with Parent B every other weekend. Because the children will live with one parent for a majority of their time, this schedule is also great for kiddos who fair better with having one place in which they call home.
This is also a common arrangement for parents that live in different states. Growing up, my mom lived in Texas and my dad in Indiana. I was with my mom during the entire school year and stayed with my dad during most school holidays, including summer, Thanksgiving, and winter breaks. Of course it wasn’t ideal to maintain a relationship with my father by long-distance phone call (Does any remember those?) but it was the best we could do with the situation at hand. Being able to spend extended time with his family during the summers really helped me feel like I hadn’t just missed out on several months of the year. It was as good as life could get with divorced parents on opposite sides of the country.
Every Weekend Custody
This is a little more straight forward as far as common custody arrangements go. One parent gets the child during the week and the other parent gets the child on the weekends. It’s a simple schedule that you may find works for your situation. This is also known as 60/40 custody. This custody arrangement is easy to understand and there is no guessing what days you have your child.
While these are common custody arrangements, you may find a different one that works for your family. Remember, it’s not one size fits all! Do what’s best for you and your family.
PS: Find that you’re missing your baby while she’s at her other parent’s house? Here are some great ways to cope.