Thursday, June 23, 2016

Custody Transitions. Fabulous Reource for Easing Anxiety

                                  

Co-parenting. Just this word is enough to give many of us moms hives. We must cooperate, however-- and cooperating with our child's father is not only imperative, but it is in our child's best interest. After all, if the court has ordered it, if you try to impede cooperating in any way will not bode well for you.
 
And if you are co-parenting, this also likely means that you have some kind of shared custody arrangement with your ex. But how best to manage the transition of a child going from one parent's home to the other? This can be Hell, both for parent and child. Many parents I know say that it takes at least a day or more for the child to "settle" into their other home. Some children suffer tremendous anxiety and emotional outbursts. I know some parents who cannot even help with the custodial switches on their own-- they require a friend, family member, or someone appointed by the court to pick up or drop off a child. Don't know that a child doesn't sense this tension and that it doesn't emotionally hurt. 
 
So how to make that transition work best for your child? One resource is by helping a child visually understand which days are "switch" days. And, hence, today's article, which is written by Katie Bettridge, co-parenting expert and CEO of Enlightened Littles (www.elittles.com). I think you will find this an incredibly valuable resource. Best of luck!
 
The Birth of Elittles. A Personal Co-Parenting Story

"The judge came to a decision. Your parenting time will begin Fridays after school and end before school on Monday mornings."

My heart sank. I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. Oh my god. I was the weekend parent. Of my own child. That wasn't enough. Not enough time to raise my child. Not enough time to enjoy watching him grow up.  Nothing could fill the void that I felt.  I had lost my boy. My baby.

Like many of you, I too understand the gut-wrenching heartache that often comes with sharing custody of your children.  After 10 years of co-parenting, I finally have it mastered....I think. For me the first decade was a brutal trial-and-error series of lessons that tested my very essence, patience, sanity, strength and resilience. It challenged everything I thought I knew about what it really means to be a loving parent.

From sippy cups and footsie jammies to band practice and elementary school - the years quickly flew by and somehow we found our own unique stride. There were, of course, many bumps along the way. What I found made it most difficult at the beginning was having such a young child that didn't understand the new parenting schedule. How can you expect a toddler to understand that a judge, a stranger, now dictates how often he can see each of his parents? Despite explaining many times and in many different iterations that "...both Mommy and Daddy love you so much, that we've decided to share time with you....etc.", he was still very much confused by the new parenting routine. Tortured even, starting each and every day unsure of which house he would reside in, which parent he would be with, or when to expect the stressful transfer/exchange days.

My son's confusion around the new parenting schedule was evident in his demeanor. I noticed that he seemed very anxious and stressed, which made his ability to relax into his current home difficult for him. Being too young to read or be able to interpret events on a typical written calendar, I created a Parenting Time Calendar just for him - with the use of "Mommy" and "Daddy" icons to represent which day was a "Mommy" day for him and which day was a "Daddy" day. Almost  immediately, he took to the calendar and seemed liberated by finally knowing what was  coming up for him. His little Parenting Time Calendar quickly became a mainstay in our home, and I  noticed that when he would look up at his calendar and see that it was a "Mommy" day, he could relax into my home that day knowing that there wouldn't be a stressful transfer that would interrupt the comforts of home and play for him that day. Even transfer days seemed a little less stressful for him, since he could see those days coming up for him in his week on the calendar. Since then, I've been on a mission to develop a lovingly enlightened line of tools and toys to help 'littles' understand big things. Our "My Two Homes" Co-Parenting Calendar has been invaluable to my child, and it is my greatest hope that your family can benefit from them as well.

If you end up purchasing any of the items on Katie's web site (I do NOT get a "cut", I assure you!), simply type "BLOGLOVE" at checkout for a 10% discount.