Dealing with parenting decisions can be hard enough as a happily married couple, but when you're faced with these decisions following a divorce, it can be downright difficult. You want to be sure that your kids are getting what they need, but you also need to have a balanced approach so that they aren't caught in the middle of further arguments. Here are some tips to help you create an effective parenting plan for kids of all ages.
General Plan Considerations
When you have multiple children, it means dealing with multiple unique needs. Some kids are more at ease with one parent than the other or may be more comfortable talking with one parent over the other. In those situations, it can be difficult to be away from that parent for an extended period of time.
Other children may have a hard time with frequent changes in routine and environment. For those kids, visitation one day a week and every other weekend may be too much disruption. It's important that you consider the unique needs of each of your kids when drafting a custody and visitation agreement as well as your parenting plan for future decisions.
Infant Parenting Considerations
It's tough to establish a solid parenting and visitation plan for infants, especially if one parent is the primary nurturer and caregiver. Once babies reach about six months old, they are able to recognize those caregivers and even develop a solid routine of sleep, mealtimes, and play. It's important to consider that routine in your plan. For example, don't plan drop-offs in the middle of naptime, because you'll end up with a cranky and confused baby who is overtired and struggling with upheaval. As your baby's routine changes, you can adjust the plan accordingly.
Toddler and Preschooler Parenting Considerations
As your child reaches toddlerhood, it's important to recognize that separation anxiety and confusion may become a problem. Consider establishing a routine that minimizes disruption. The more consistent the schedule, the less stress your child will feel. For example, a consistent single afternoon every week without an overnight and then an overnight every other weekend may provide a consistent routine that helps your child know what to expect.
Older Child Parenting Considerations
As kids get older, it's going to be in your best interest to have them play an active role in their routine. After all, kids will have friendships, social commitments, school activities and other things that need to be accommodated. Make sure that any plan ensures your child's continued access to these things.
A parenting plan and custody agreement should be focused on your child's best interests. Those interests can change as your child grows, so it's important that the documents be modified when necessary to meet those needs. The more you understand about the unique needs of these developmental stages, the better prepared you'll be as things start to change. Talk with a local divorce attorney (such as one from Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg) about the best way to make changes to these plans going forward.