Today’s guest post is from Dr. Yana Weinstein, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and co-founder of Learning Scientists. She joins us to talk about her co-parenting arrangement.
My daughter is turning 4 in August, and for the majority of her life, her dad and I have not been together. I won’t go into why we broke up, but let’s just say it was not my decision and yet it worked out for the best for everyone.
Co-parenting is by no means easy even under the best of circumstances, but for now, we are making it work. I thought it might be worth describing how we make it work, in case others going down this road need hope and ideas.
Our co-parenting arrangement has had two distinct phases. I will be discussing the first phase today, and the second phase in a future post.
We officially split up when our daughter was 18 months old, and for the next year we handled it one way, and a year later, a different way; but in both cases, our daughter spend 50% of her time with each of us.
Phase 1: Business as usual?
Because our daughter was only 18 months old, we didn’t want our split to affect her routine, which was typically: dad gets her out of bed, does the morning routine, and takes her to daycare; mom picks her up from daycare and does dinner and bed. But, we didn’t want to keep living together – one of us had to move out, and either come over in the mornings (him), or in the evenings (me).
For various reasons, we decided it made more sense for me to move. I found a room in a shared apartment in the city, and every weekday my schedule looked like this:
Graphic created by Yana Weinstein using images from Pixabay.com
We also split the weekend, so we got one full day with her each; and I slept over at my former place/now my ex’s place one night per week (Friday or Saturday), so that he could go out.How do you handle the logistics of 50/50 co-parenting? #coparenting Click To Tweet
In case you’re considering a similar arrangement, following are the pros and cons of this routine:
- Our daughter’s weekday routine didn’t change at all – she still woke up with her dad there, and went to sleep with her mom there.
- Our daughter got to stay in the same house with all her familiar things, and in the same daycare.
- We (the co-parents) both got equal amounts of time with her, both on weekdays (mornings or evenings), and on the weekends (1 day each).
- I got to have evenings to myself – after 9pm I could go out with friends, and even date – more on that in the next post!
- Because I lived in one town, worked in another, and took care of my daughter in a third, I did an immense amount of driving every day (see diagram).
- Even though we were each with our daughter 50% of the time she was awake, as a Mother-(aka, Monster)-Who-Was-No-Longer-Living-With-Her-Child I felt constantly judged by everyone. This was probably mostly in my head, but still resulted in my feeling intensely guilty almost all the time.
- I had to see my ex every single day, at 8:30pm when he came home (to what you used to be our home) and I left. Anyone who’s ever been through a breakup will be able to imagine why that’s not ideal.
- My ex always had to be home by 8:30pm on weekdays, except the one day per week where I stayed over; in that respect, he had a lot less freedom than me.
- Speaking of staying over, sleeping on the couch in the house I used to share with my ex and our daughter was fairly miserable.
Overall, the big pros for our daughter (keeping her schedule and spending equal amount of time with each of us) outweighed the inconveniences and discomfort we suffered as a result…up to a point. In the end, it was not sustainable.
In my next post, I will describe Phase 2, which we’ve been in for the past 18 months and plan to continue for the foreseeable future.
Dr Yana Weinstein (@doctorwhy on Twitter) is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She co-runs the Learning Scientists blog, which is a resource for teachers, students, and parents interested in the science of learning. Follow the Learning Scientists on Twitter at @AceThatTest.