I’ve been co-parenting with my ex-husband for more than six years. When we got divorced, we agreed on a pretty straightforward schedule with our kids: Since I work from home, it was easy for me to pick them up from school and make time for appointments and school functions. I have them four nights a week and my ex has them three nights a week and those days alternate. That means even when they’re staying the night with their dad, I get to see them since I’m the one who picks them up from school and spends the entire day with them during the school year.
But all that goes out the window in the summer.
My ex takes all his vacation when the kids are out of school, so he can spend as much time with them as possible. And I encourage that time together, since I have the kids most of the time during the school year.
It requires patience and flexibility from me, though. He often takes them away for weeks at time, or will plan something on a night that’s scheduled to be mine. Although I miss my kids when they are with him for blocks of time, I have to be flexible because I want them to have a relationship with their dad. I also want to be fair — I still get to see them a lot during the summer, so even if he springs something on me at the last minute, I try to be flexible.
I realize I do have a very good and unique situation with my ex. It’s not perfect, but there isn’t much animosity when it comes to the holidays, celebrations, birthdays, or summer vacation. We’re both pretty laid back and flexible when it comes to the kids’ schedule. If he has something going on that he can’t miss during a night he is scheduled to have them, it’s not a big deal for us to switch.
The hardest part is that I miss my kids when they are gone. But they love this time during the summer and that’s what’s important. I’ve learned to busy myself so the week goes by fast.
But if it stopped working for either of us, we’d change things. One of the wonderful freedoms that comes with ending a relationship with the other parent of your children means you get to call the shots too.
In the end, my kids need happy parents. For now, this arrangement is working for everyone and I get to focus on myself a little bit more in the summer, and my kids love having a change of pace.
Katie lives in Maine with her three kids, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing, she’d reading, at the gym, redecorating her home, or spending too much money online.