Visitation is for your children, not for you!
Parents tend to forget that first and foremost visitation is not about them. Visitation is for the children. Too often parents use visitation as a tool to gain leverage in the divorce proceedings. After the divorce is final visitation is often then used by both sides to annoy and sometimes blatantly interfere with the other parents life. Before you start using your kids as a tool stop and think first. Below is some insight from children on how they view visitation. Remember visitation is for the children so their point of view is one that is crucial and should be considered before you start fighting.
Visitation is for the Kids
You will hear and even find yourself saying “But it’s my time”. Guess what, it is not your time. Visitation is for the kids. It is their time. There will be events scheduled (sporting, dance class, birthday parties) during “your time”. You as a parent are suppose to take them. Instead of seeing it as time lost with your children, experience it with them to the extent you can. It is their time. They didn’t choose to get divorced and disrupt lives you and your spouse did. They are now on a schedule to ensure they get to spend time with both of you but they are in no way required to give up their own schedule. You the adult needs to work around it.
The point of visitation is to allow the children to spend time with both parents. The children can’t come and go at will like adults can. Therefore, a set schedule is created to ensure the children get to spend the time they need with both parents. Look at it as a right for your children. They have a right to spend time with you both and visitation is securing that right. It isn’t about the adults.
Divide and Conquer; Share and Survive
Children are not to be divided. I shouldn’t have to say more but the reality is I do. Children only have so many hours in the day and days in the week and so on. They need structure but not every minute scheduled. Good visitation is one in which the children get to spend time with each parent. It will never be equal time so give up that dream. If you look at your life before the separation though you will see it wasn’t equal then either. But then you weren’t fighting so no one cared if the children spent more time with one parent then the other. Your children love you regardless of how much time you spend them as long as the time you do spend is quality time. The parent with the most time is not the winner so no need to fight over their time.
The most effective way I have found to organize time is by looking at what the kids need first. Look at the kids schedule that was already existing before you separated and try to stick to it as close as possible. If the children spent the majority of the time with one parent then maintain that. Children need stability. Many parents have admitted that they actually spend more time with their children after a divorce/separation than they did before. You have already disrupted one part of their life there is no need to disrupt their schooling, friends and other events as well.
Take cues from your children. My children would have not have coped well on a constantly rotating schedule such as split living arrangements. Some children would however. If you have a very flexible and adaptive child then splitting up the week may be possible. If you have rigid children that need constant structure then every other weekend might be the best for them. Get to know and understand what your child needs not what you need.
Living with Visitation
In this day, usually both parents work. This means that now you have three schedules to consider. Yours, the other parent’s and the child’s. Be flexible, be open and be honest. You may hate the other parent but it is not about you. Don’t make it difficult for the other parent to be a parent just because you don’t like them anymore. Work with them to make a schedule that works for all of you. Work together when situations arise that will require the visitation schedule to change. Above all remember that a visitation schedule shouldn’t be written in stone but should be fluid and able to withstand change. Flexibility is the key to living with visitation issues. Always remember it is your children’s visitation and you are just the instrument to ensure the visitation happens.