Tips for Parenting Plans Involving Babies & Young Children
Creating a parenting plan is never easy, especially when your children are still young. Older children are often better equipped to handle divorce and separation issues, or they are at least able to grasp what is going on. Babies and young children, however, don’t understand what is happening and ideally should be receiving attention and care from both parents during these early years. For this reason, it can be particularly difficult to create a schedule for a baby when the parents live in different households.
If you and your co-parent need to create a parenting plan for your young child, make sure you know what you can do to make the plan easy to follow and beneficial for yourself and your child.
Sync Your Parenting Schedules and Routines
Keeping children on a schedule is extremely important, but when it comes to babies and toddlers, this step is crucial. For babies, everything is new, and keeping them fed and well rested is absolutely key to ensuring they grow and develop as they should. Toddlers aren’t quite so delicate, but they also thrive under a set schedule and known routines. Switching from home to home can be hard on children of any age, but if both parents are able to stick to the same schedule and routines, it can provide the children with a sense of normalcy and steadiness.
In order to sync your schedules, you need to come up with a consistent parenting plan that both of you are able to stick to. Changing things week-by-week can be extremely challenging and could be stressful for your children, so make sure you find a custody arrangement that benefits everyone in some way. Keeping a steady day-to-day plan can also help significantly. Get together with your co-parent and settle on a shared schedule that includes nap times, feeding times, bedtimes, and other important daily events.
Keep Visits Short
Young children are particularly sensitive to their caretakers and they do best when they are able to spend time with both parents on a regular basis. Older children are usually more capable of balancing time with either parent and could do well with switching off between parents every week or every few days. Young children, however, typically need to see each parent every couple of days. For this reason, most child psychologists and other experts suggest that parents who share custody split their parenting time in 2 to 3-day increments. Or, if trading off parenting responsibilities every couple of days isn’t an option for you, consider scheduling visits with the other parent in between custody switches. For example, if one parent has the baby for the week, perhaps the other parent can come and visit the baby once or twice during that time.
Communicate About Milestones
Young children hit new developmental milestones almost daily, and when parents share caretaker responsibilities, both are bound to miss certain achievements. It can be difficult to miss out on your baby’s first steps, or your child’s first day learning to swim, so sharing these milestones with one another can help you and your co-parent keep up with every new change. If the two of you are amicable, try sending photos or videos of these moments to one another; it could help you cope with the time apart from your child.
Even if you can’t communicate this well with your ex, you should at least tell them about any new developments that could affect your child’s care. For example, if your child learned how to crawl out of the crib, make sure your co-parent is aware so that he or she can take the necessary safety precautions.
Creating a parenting plan is never easy, but with the help of an experienced child custody attorney, it is certainly doable. If you need help with a child custody or visitation issue, or if you need to modify an existing parenting plan, our firm is here to help.Contact McKinley Irvin to discuss your child custody case with our Washington family law attorneys.