When I write a post, often I get inspiration from another post. This is one such occasion (RE: Weekend Dads Rising To The Occasion).
Every co-parenting situation is different. I’ve learned a few things from the last year as a single mom with the additional difficulty of co-parenting with a protective order:
Myth #1: You’re Always In Control.
Once your little one is at the other parent’s house, the rules have changed. As hard as you might try to reinforce rules by asking the other parent to play nice, your rules probably don’t hold water in your ex’s house. The other parent might agree with you, but it’s really an illusion. Take it from the weekend dad’s or mom’s perspective: they get to see their child every other weekend or twice a week.They want to make the most of their time. If bedtime is an hour later, is it really worth fighting over?
I know some people will scoff and say, “But I am the one that has to deal with the readjustment period!”
I get that. There’s a reason why you’re the custodial parent. You signed up for more time plus all the tough parenting that comes with it.
The courts recognize that there may be instances where the custodial parent overreaches and tries to “interfere with visitation.” Calling 20 times a day to “check-in” can very well fall into this category in some states. If you really can’t stand being out of the picture, ask (nicely) for the other parent to check in at a specified time over the weekend. If he/she doesn’t want to do that, just chill out. Get your nails done. Work out. Date. Shop. Keep busy.
Myth #2: Your Child Doesn’t Miss You When He/She Is Away.
Many times we imagine our kids are having an amazing weekend with their other parent. We unfairly label our ex as the “fun” parent while we are the “authoritarian” or “mean” parent.
It’s just the nature of custody that the non-custodial parents have more time to organize “fun” events. They spend all week making sure their time is spent wisely and their child looks forward to the weekend.
This shouldn’t be construed as an affront or to undermine the custodial parents. Your child spends 75 or 80 percent of his/her time with you, so naturally he/she will miss “home.” You represent home.
Myth #3: It’s Party Time! During Visitation.
When Andrew’s weekend with his father is upon us, I have a few friends and work colleagues that say “Time to have fun!” The truth, however, is that I miss him. It takes about mid-day Saturday for the mother-aches to set in. But when they do, it can be depressing. No one likes to wish the weekend away, but alas, many custodial parents do. It’s not always party time when your kid is away. It can be a lonely place.
Myth #4: Visitation Weekends Should Be A Time To Catch Up On Chores And To-Do Lists.
No! No, no, no and no! Unless it’s the only way to keep you sane and you want to do them, this is a time where custodial parents should breathe, relax and nurture their inner wants/needs. Single parenting can easily lapse into a routine of putting out the next fire, doing 100 things with limited or no resources, etc. Doing something fun just for the sake of fun should be at the top of your list during visitation weekends. Single parents shouldn’t hold themselves to a martyr’s standard. Martyr’s perish. You need to be able to parent after 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Myth #5: Looking Forward To A Visitation Weekend Is Sinful!
My mother would be the first to cry foul on this myth. She firmly believes that Andrew should be with me 98 percent of the time (probably because she’s retired and bored. Seeing Andrew is the highlight of her week). There are some weeks that I just can’t wait to have the weekend to myself: sleep as long as I want, go to brunch with a girl friend, read a book cover-to-cover, write, exfoliate for hours, go to an early spin class, etc. This myth dovetails with Myth #4 and why it isn’t fashionable to keep churning at 100 percent 24/7. I’m proud to say I am an active mom 80 percent and a passive mom 20 percent of the time. The 20 percent will always worry that Andrew is okay, but chances are, he is. I owe it myself to enjoy my 20 percent.
Disclaimer: The more I write about co-parenting, visitation and parenting smarter, not harder, the more I realize I need to depend on my mother less for emotional support. We have almost polar opposite parenting styles. Her: Suffocating, hover-craft. Me: Live and let live.