As your children grow and mature, their schedules become much busier. Instead of merely attending school and the occasional play date, they may now juggle multiple extracurricular activities, a full academic course load and a part-time job.
It could be challenging enough for married parents to get enough face time with a teenager running every which way at once. When you divorce or separate and must share custody of tweens and teens, the situation may prove even more challenging. Thankfully, there are ways for parents to handle shared custody when their children are quite busy.
Explore major details in your parenting plan
If you have shared custody of grade school-aged children, your parenting plan could be relatively vague. You might simply agree to a specific division of parenting time and certain shared family rules.
When your children are older, there will be many more details that you have to jointly address with your ex. Who will transport your children from school to their after-school soccer practice? Who will pay the fees for uniforms and team travel? What about one-time events, like transportation to summer camp?
Prior arrangements, like allowing one parent to have the bulk of their parenting time in the summer, may no longer work when children’s schedules are full. There will be more possibilities for disagreement, which means that it is best to address these issues in depth as soon as possible.
When you have clear rules regarding who is responsible for laundering the uniform and which parent will attend which game, there is less of a chance of scheduling conflicts or disagreements disrupting your shared custody arrangements.
Build flexibility into your arrangements
Demanding schedules for teenagers often change quickly. A child working as a part-time barista might have to adjust their work schedule on the fly if a co-worker quits or calls in sick. A teenager that suddenly qualifies for regionals may have extra practices that your family suddenly has to accommodate. Including rules about how to negotiate changes and communicate when you disagree can help you be more flexible with the demands of parenting a busy child, like a middle schooler or teenager.
Thinking ahead to issues that might cause conflict can help set your entire family up for success in a shared custody situation.