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Question for 2-house families

urbanMamas and Papas, Sadie Rose would love to hear how you have juggled scheduling for your child(ren) who have two or more places to call "home":

I have a 2.5 year old boy, and he goes to his dad's one night a week. But now, things are changing and he's going to be there nearly (but not quite) half the time!

I was just wondering if anyone out there has any ideas on the best way to do the split household with a little guy. I was nearly twelve when my parents divorced, and as I headed into my teens, I liked the longer stints at each house so that I didn't have to go back and forth so much. But clearly, with a toddler, I'm not going to do it as I would with a teenager. At this point, we have developed a schedule where he goes to his dad's house 2 nights in a row, comes back to me for 2 nights, back to dad's for 1 night, and then back to me for 2 nights.

It sounds complicated, and I suppose on many levels, it is. I am just wondering if any uMs have any other ideas or experiences or advice on this matter. We are barely even through our first week with the new schedule, so I'm not even sure how it's going to go. Time (and emotions) will tell.

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We just started the two house situation this past January. Jackson, who is four and 1/2, spends half the time with me and half the time with his dad. Figuring out the schedule has been quite difficult. His dad has been taking a couple of classes and, as a result, April has been meant a lot of time with me for Jackson. In some respects that has been easier, as we haven't had to deal with the transitions from one house to the other. As a result, I think his mood is more even. But, I know it is also not good for his relationship with his dad. The back and forth is difficult because it seems as though it is always transition time. I'm hoping it will get easier.
One thing that has really helped us is a calendar. I mark a whole month at a time by coloring the boxes for each day. The color in the box indicates at which house Jackson will be spending the night. We go over it nearly every day.
Recently, his dad and I started a journal. We keep a notebook in Jackson's bag and try to write down how things are going for Jackson. That way, the parent who is not with him still gets a picture of what has been going on.
We try to keep the rules pretty consistent between both houses. Of course, there will be differences. So, we make sure Jackson understands that just like different friends have different rules, mama's and papa's rules might be a little different. The big stuff, however, we make an effort at being consistent.
We are doing alternating weekends. The weekend includes Fri. and Mon. night. For me, that is too long to be without Jackson. So, if the parent is available, the parent without Jackson for the weekend will spend Sunday evening/late afternoon with Jackson for dinner.
It is all new to me, too. I feel like we are adjusting things as we go along in order to make it work for all of us. Please feel free to email me directly (marradotts@yahoo.com). I'd love to hear how other single mamas are doing it.
-Erica

I am in the process of separating with my husband and have a two year old girl. I am willing to have my daughter's father take her every week day evening for a few hours and then split weekends but the idea of not seeing her every couple days seems detrimental, at least in my case. I am wondering if there is any legal reason that you (Erica and Sadie Rose) are splitting the time 50/50?

I am in the process of separating with my husband and have a two year old girl. I am willing to have my daughter's father take her every week day evening for a few hours and then split weekends but the idea of not seeing her every couple days seems detrimental, at least in my case. I am wondering if there is any legal reason that you (Erica and Sadie Rose) are splitting the time 50/50?

I suppose it all depends on your situation. For me, my days without Asher are great! Though I miss him terribly, of course. Also, in those short hours without him, I have to make a living, clean the house, run errands, take care of my self, and maintain my other personal relationships. So it's pretty busy, and I appreciate the time.

Also, for us, it was just kind of assumed that, if circumstances allowed, Asher would split his time with both of us, since we live close to each other and that's how we always envisioned it.

Legally we made things as flexible as possible, specifying joint custody 50/50. Another thing that helps us is that, generally speaking, we are great friends (the father and I) and are very open to making it work and making adjustments.

As the other half of the parental equation for Jackson (with Erica), I agree with all of her comments. I'll add or elaborate on just a few very general things.

As Erica noted, like you we've just begun this new relationship. I think being committed to open communication between the three of us has been and will be critical for us going forward. Jackson requires alot of comforting and does much better knowing what's around the bend. Erica uses the calendar to let him know about pending transitions and I tend to talk to him about it. Both approaches seem to work for him. Also, Erica and I try to let each other know as soon as is possible if something in our individual lives is going to require adjustments to our joint schedule.

Try to be patient and flexible in your adjustment to this huge transition. Remember that the rest of the world isn't running on the same schedule that you guys may agree on and will require you to make some adjustments. Erica has covered my classes for the past 6 weeks; she is a full-time student with some 12-hour clinical rotations and we've changed our schedule accordingly. Honestly, since January, we probably haven't been able to stay on our schedule more than a week or two and that's OK. A hectic, difficult or changing schedule is probably much more a reality for our kids (even with parents under the same roof) than it probably was for most of us when we were growing up. I think that it's probably the attitude with which we approach the schedule (more than the schedule itself) that will most likely affect our kids.

Lastly, you're doing the right thing by reaching out to others. Friends have been very supportive in helping us adjust to our new situation. Additionally, Erica and I have found it helpful to meet with a social worker who specializes in parenting issues a couple of times on specific issues. Just talking to others can help you keep your perspective.

Jason

The 2-2-1-2 schedule sounds complicated and exhausting to me... but with flexibility, good communication, and comfortable proximity, I think just about anything can work. My kids (both under 4 years old) have had dual homes since my husband and I separated last September. We chose to keep my home as the primary residence, in a legal sense, while my husband has parenting time every other weekend. This is not quite as unbalanced as it sounds, since we're both working full-time. Each of us gets to alternate quality family time with quality alone time on the weekends. And we usually work things out so that the kids see their dad a few times a week anyway. The kids themselves seem to have taken a pretty matter-of-fact view, and enjoy having both their house and their apartment to call home.

P.S. Ending my marriage has been a really positive move, on the whole, but I'm getting a bit of a lump in my throat seeing how many of us are separating from our partners just as our children enter toddlerhood.

As much as I know you all must be better off for moving on and WOW, I am impressed with how mature and focused on the kids you all are.. I still feel a little sad. I came from a broken family and my Dad didn't sort of keep up his end of the parenting deal, which was very painful for me. Kids are so tender at this age... and making sure that they know it's not their fault and that they are loved beyond their wildest dreams by both is sooo important.
You all obviously know that... Good luck.

Monica, my biggest concern about leaving the relationship is my daughter's well being and I am torn between leaving an unhappy relationship for myself or sticking it out for her. I am hoping my spouse and I will maintain a good friendship and relationship for my daughter. As a child of a "broken" family, do you think your parents could have done anything to make it less painful...including staying together?

Hi Laura,
At five years old, I probably did want them to stay together, not understanding in our case that my Dad was an alcoholic and slowly but surely withdrawing from our family. My Mom's heart was broken by my Dad and knowing what I know now, she absolutely should have done what she did.. which was to divorce him. She/We had a happy life, she remarried a great man.
What hurt me was my Dad's withdrawl and lack of contact with me. No birthday cards, no phone calls... I missed him terribly and didn't understand his behavior. My poor husband spent 6 or so years proving he wasn't going anytwhere before we got married. I think you are doing the right thing. I don't think anyone would benefit from staying in an unhappy marriage. Kids can see through that and it's not authentic. You deserve to be happy in your life.
By the way, my Dad and I reconciled about 3 years ago and have a fantastic relationship now. Good luck. :)

I think divorce is definitely hard on younger kids... but I am a true believer that happiness, however it comes, makes for happy kids. I was overjoyed when my parents finally divorced after years of poorly-hidden bitterness. I was lucky, though, and have really rad parents. I actually got a LOT closer to my dad after the divorce, since I think he finally felt like he could breathe again. It was hard on my mom, which was the hardest part for me, especially as a young teenager. But I'm really close with both of them now, having finally cleared even the difficult hurdle of the stepmother entering my life. ;)

Ultimately, sticking out an unhappy relationship "for our kids" doesn't do much except make them think that unhappy relationships are kind of normal. In this day and age, two-household families are so common, I imagine our kids will all have lots of similarity and support in each other. I had lots of divorced-parent friends as a kid.

I know, however, that it all depends on our own situations. Laura, I wish you the best of luck and happiness and clarity and love! I wish this was all easier for us...

Also, thanks for all the comments on this post everyone.

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