Custody and parenting time exchanges are an unavoidable reality for many co-parents, whether they like it or not. Many divorced couples find parenting time exchanges stressful because they have to interact with their ex. This stress, in turn, affects the children, and then no one is happy. But for peaceful and productive co-parenting, you need to make custody and parenting time exchanges fun and easy for your child’s benefit. Here are a few ways you can do that.
The first thing you should do is take steps to prevent any and all exchange-related conflict. Work with your ex on figuring out the least stressful way to do this. Consider using co-parenting apps—like Our Family Wizard—to track schedules, calendars, expenses, and other important info. That way, you don’t have to use exchanges as catch-up time. Also, pick your battles. These moments when your child is going to spend time with the other parent are important. They may just be another item on your to-do list, but to your child, they are anticipated events.
I know this may sound counterintuitive, especially for conscientious parents who want to make their parenting time exchanges safe and fun for their child. But if you have something to look forward to when your ex takes your child, you will be in a better mood during the exchange. You can treat yourself to a movie, plan regular manicures, or simply learn to look forward to some time off from parenting.
If you’ve got conflict under control (as best you can) and have learned how to enjoy your well-deserved child-free time, the next thing you can do is find ways to make the actual exchange more enjoyable. If you drive your child to your ex’s house every Friday, pick something you can do with your child on the way to enhance the experience. It can be something like getting ice cream or taking a quick visit to a favorite park. Think small; the goal should be to choose a sustainable routine that you can still do when life gets busy. Children thrive on consistency, and you need to be consistent with these rewards to build an association between exchanges and fun time.
Preparing for parenting time exchanges can cause children to become anxious, making the entire experience unpleasant. Again, find ways to make the process of getting ready to go to Dad or Mom’s house fun. Let your child help you pack his or her overnight bag. Help your child choose books, movies, or toys to bring. During your custodial time, help your child make something—like a drawing or a batch of cookies—to give your ex at the exchange. The getting ready process can sometimes land on the back burner as you rush through your day. Make it a routine you both enjoy doing.
Also, it helps to discuss any on-going parenting time or custody conflict with a New Jersey child custody attorney. Always keep your child’s best interests in mind. If your current custody and parenting time order are too difficult to follow or are doing more harm than good, it may be time to consider a modification.
Are you struggling to co-parent effectively? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you ensure your custody and parenting time order look out for your child’s best interests. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.