A custody plan involves more than just a time and place you’ve chosen to spend time with your children. Once you’ve set these terms in place, the next step is to mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come.
You should set these expectations for the process.
If you and your ex have very young children, the custody routine you set may end up feeling more normal than how things were before. However, the longer your children spent with you and the other parent as a united family, the harder the transition into this separation will be — for both of you.
It’s important to anticipate and accept when you or your child acts out of the ordinary in response to this big life change. They may resist you or they may cling to you. They could choose to avoid the issue or become angry at you and/or the other parent for letting it happen. They may feel sad or unsure about how to feel at all.
Try to put your own feelings aside and remain patient. Help your child recognize how they’re feeling and what positive methods of coping they can use to accept and overcome negative feelings. This is a life-long skill they’ll need when times get tough. This method can also work for you as you work through your own transition.
Starting a child custody routine is going to involve communication with your child and your ex to ensure that the schedule runs smoothly.
This is why remaining amicable with your ex through the divorce can be advantageous. If there are hiccups in the plan, each of you will rely on one another to occasionally set up or step back to make the plan work.
Try to keep your child’s best interests at the top of your mind. That means in addition to talking to them about their schedule, you should also talk to them about this new situation. A few examples are to:
- Ask them how they feel
- Verify that their feelings are valid
- Keep the conversation about the divorce open
- Establish house rules right away
Communicating with your child and your ex should help make this confusing process clearer. Just try to avoid relaying any personal details about your relationship with the other parent or making the other parent appear somehow negative.
Even if you’re just starting out with a custody plan, it’s important to anticipate it changing in the future. As your children grow older and you or the other parent take on different responsibilities, the schedule will likely change. Be sure to look out for these major life changes and don’t hesitate to reassess your plan when it doesn’t seem like it’s working anymore.