Custody exchange days can be hard for kids and coparents. Fortunately we are here to help. We’ve compiled tips from other Texas coparents to hep ease your children’s stress on transition days, and help you cope whether your children are coming or going.
You need to know your custody visitation days, but you also need to be prepared for the exchange day. Why? Because it’s your job to prepare your children! Living in two homes can feel unsettled, especially when your child is still getting used to being part of a coparenting family. You can help your child feel more structured and settled simply by allowing your children to know what to expect for custody exchange days. After all, nothing is unsettled – it’s all scheduled in advance.
There’s no need to review the year’s calendar with your child. That is overwhelming. Rather, you need to be aware of your family’s schedule and share relevant information in a way that’s compatible with your child’s maturity level.
Texas coparents can download Our Days Calendar. We provide the one and only fully automated coparenting custody calendar app. With Our Days Calendar, your family’s visitation calendar is always in the palm of your hand. No one in a coparenting family needs to be confused anymore.
With ready access to your family’s standard possession calendar, you can talk to your kids about your family’s coparenting schedule and custody exchange days in advance. Don’t forget to remind them as transition days approach – but always be careful not to nag or overwhelm them.
When transition day comes, let your actions show your child that everything is okay. Your mood and actions should reflect that your child simply has two homes — and it’s not a big deal for anyone to go home. It’s normal. It happens every day.
If your children are leaving home, you’re going to be sad. You may feel anger toward the situation or even toward your coparent. You love and want to be with your child – all parents do. But your feelings about this very grown-up situation do not need to become the troubles of your child. Take some time to reflect and prepare yourself privately, before you exchange custody. Do not overdo emotional goodbyes and I’ll-miss-yous on transition day. It is not okay to make your children feel guilt or sadness – they are powerless over the situation. It’s also not okay to bring negative emotions to the exchange site. If you need to move past anger, it may help to rephrase your thoughts. For example, rather than believing your coparent is taking your child away from you, try to believe that your coparent simply loves your children and wants to be with them, too. Being loved by both parents is a good thing for your children!
If your child is coming home, you’re going to be excited and happy! But again, take time to compose yourself in advance. Try not to bombard your child with affection, information, or chatter. It’s likely that after just a few hours of quiet time, your child will be settled and ready to engage. Just as when you say goodbye, you don’t want your behavior to lead your child to stress that things are not okay with you when he or she is at their other home. Older children are sensitive to these indications, but even young children internalize such messages.
The Transition Day.
Coparents should avoid big adventure days on transition days. Stick to your regular routine. It’s important to remember , transitions don’t always happen on Sunday. Under Texas’ standard possession order and the extended possession order, there are also transitions on Thursdays during the school year. While it may work well for your family to have lots of low-key together time on Sundays, your weekday transition should still focus on setting your child up for success at school. So stick to your regular routine. It’s easy to see, it’s more comfortable and relaxing for your child to have a stable, normal school night on Wednesday with dad, and then experience something very similar on Thursday with mom. Now imagine instead having your child’s school week interrupted twice — once with emotional goodbyes and then again with overwhelming welcoming ceremonies. Keep it mellow.
Unless your child still has a lovey, or is big enough to carry a cell phone, he or she does not need to take possessions from one house to another. Your child is not going to a sleepover or visiting relatives. She is going to her second home where she already has everything she needs.
Send children off after a routine day at your home, a loving but not overwhelming goodbye, and if you can muster it try to provide some cheer for your child’s visit with his or her other parent.
Keep yourself busy.
Now for the hard part. Your child is with your coparent. Your house is quiet, probably a little bit messy, and you’re wondering what to do for the night/weekend/holiday. You miss your little ones.
Take the opportunity to check in with yourself. Understand your feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Look, this is not ideal. It’s not a picnic. No one said it would be. We miss our kids.
Now take a breath. You have a free, competent, loving caretaker for your child – your coparent. If you’re like most parents, you used to have a list of things you’d *love* to do if only you had a babysitter. Now is the time!!!! Meet friends for brunch or a fancy dinner, engage in a grown up hobby that you enjoy, catch up on work, do house chores, binge watch your favorite TV show, work on DIY projects, take a long bath and read a book — or sleep! You have guaranteed, pre-scheduled time to enjoy being a grown up. Not only is that totally OK, it’s kindof a relief!
Help keep yourself busy by downloading our automated coparenting calendar from GooglePlay, the AppStore, or use our web version. Check your child’s visitation days weeks or even months in advance, and book your “me” time as you see fit. Create something for yourself to look forward to, like a weekend mini-vacation to a local brewery or an evening in a fancy hotel. Book a massage, facial, or full-on spa day. Go window shopping at the mall. Spend time reconnecting with friends and family. Try an activity that’s new to you, but something they enjoy. Or (gasp!) go out on dates!
Engage in some self-care and self-promotion while your kids are with your coparent. You are a person as well as a parent – nurture yourself! When your kids come back home, you’ll be in a good head-space and you’ll feel confident, competent, and ready to greet them without overdoing the drama. Why? Because you’ve got this– and we are here for you!