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1 week on, 1 week off - appropriate at age 3?

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  • 1 week on, 1 week off - appropriate at age 3?

    There was a discussion about custody schedules a little while ago, but I didn't want to keep hijacking the thread to discuss it. My kids are 3½, and my ex and share custody as close to 50/50 as possible. I've proposed a week on/week off schedule to her, and she has flat out said no.

    My kids live 1½ hours away on the best of days, which becomes 3 hours when I'm picking them up after work mid-week. Their mother usually has them for 3-4 days, then I have them for 3-4 days, so that adds up to a lot of driving each week (7½ hours/wk for me, 3½ hours/wk for the kids).

    I'm becoming weary of this arrangement, especially since I do 100% of the driving. Their mother says I chose to live this far away, which isn't exactly true (long story), so she says that's my problem. Even if she took on 25% of the driving, that would be a huge relief, but she doesn't work and therefore doesn't have her car registered or insured. But my convenience and expenses aren't the only factor here. Since I started working a later shift, driving down to pick up the kids takes a lot longer due to traffic, and by the time I get them home, it's around 10:00pm.

    I'm not sure it's best for my kids to be constantly moving back and forth as often as they have been, although I can't really find any evidence either way. It's a lot of driving for them as well, which isn't the end of the world, but it's another factor.

    And finally, another consideration is my babysitter, a member of the family. They've shared that they're feeling very worn out with the current schedule, and they also expressed curiosity over a week on/week off schedule (they feel that having a week off would work better for whatever reason). I could always go with a paid babysitter, but to be honest, I don't make a lot of money, and my ex isn't going to be interested in sharing the cost of child care. (Especially when she says she can babysit them, which she can because she sits at home collecting social assistance, but that would mean I'd only see them on weekends.)

    It's very minor, but having some Saturdays off (I currently have my kids every Saturday), and being able to cut my gas expenses in half would be nice. I've so far not made an issue of either of them, because I've been trying to be as peaceful and amicable as possible from the beginning, but I don't seem to be getting any pay-off for it.

    I'd appreciate opinions and research about week on/week off schedules, whether in support or against. I'm really not sure if, at age 3½, it would be a bad thing or a good thing. I can see being away from a parent for a full week being potentially negative, but less shuffling and driving would be positive. If it can be shown that such an arrangement would be developmentally harmful, then I'll shelve the notion and find a way to deal with it.

  • #2
    I've seen it work for kids this young. The parents hand off the kids on Mondays so there is no upset in the evenings having to travel back and forth between houses. Parent A drops kids off at school/daycare in the morning and Parent B picks them up in the afternoon after school/daycare, vice versa the following week. The couple I know have three young kids and this arrangement works fabulously for them.


    • #3
      Deleted duplicate post.
      Last edited by dadtotheend; 08-22-2010, 11:03 PM.


      • #4
        I think the bigger issue for you is going to be what happens when they start school. Neither the current schedule nor your proposed schedule is going to work then.

        If you two want to continue shared parenting one of you is going to have move closer to the other. This is going to be an issue for you in one year and you would be wise to deal with it now rather than fighting for a week about schedule that is going to be obsolete and non-workable in a year.
        Last edited by dadtotheend; 08-22-2010, 11:04 PM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by dadtotheend View Post
          I think the bigger issue for you is going to be what happens when they start school. Neither the current schedule or your proposed schedule is not going to work then.

          If you two want to continue shared parenting one of you is going to have move closer to the other. This is going to be an issue for you in one year and you would be wise to deal with it now rather than fighting for a week about schedule that is going to obsolete and non-workable in a year.
          I should've addressed this in my first post. I plan to move much closer to my ex as soon as I'm able to find a suitable job in the area. I have a year to do so, as the kids will start school in Sept 2011 (if I find something sooner, great). I will require a week on/week off arrangement at that point, and if she is uncooperative at that time, I will absolutely seek that arrangement from a court. But when we live that close to each other, it would be no problem for each of us to have mid-week outings, so I doubt it will be an issue.


          • #6
            Then you will be fine with a week about schedule. I know people who do it and their kids are fine. If you live close together, then it won't be a problem at all.


            • #7
              Explain this to your ex then, in writing in a professional manner, that is, not personal or emotional, just factual. Explain that due to the kids starting school in Sept 2011 and you moving closer to the school, a week on/off schedule will be required then. Explain to her that she can't refuse without reason, and you require a reasonable response. Then when/if she gives her reasons, address those reasons with facts. If she claims some vague research, look it up and refute it. If it is just that she doesn't want to, save that response to show the judge.

              Regardless of your driving time and your babysitter's feelings, it is also wise to do this now because you may well need a year of negotiation with the ex to get this done. You should also consider what the situation will be with child care if you are an hour and half away from your relative/babysitter, the cost of childcare for before and after school and what you will do when the kids are home sick, which happens about 4 days a month with 2 kids in school and daycare. Have a plan or it wil all go south very quickly.


              • #8
                Thanks for all of the responses so far.

                I guess at this point, my main problem is not actually having evidence to show week on/week off to be beneficial or detrimental to kids at that age. If it's beneficial, I need something to show my ex and possibly the judge. I'll keep looking around to see what I can find.


                • #9
                  You mention the 3 year old, but do you have another child? I don't think you are going to find anything that actually supports a week on/week off for a child that young, but if you have an older child as well then that will give you the advantage.

                  Your plan to move back into the area is a good one, but from my personal experience it will hold very little weight with the court until it is a done deal. The constant driving back and forth is not a good idea for anyone and the court will see that. Tread lightly my friend. The court may just decide that if the driving is such an inconvenience then you may lose some of your time.

                  I think your best bet is to approach this in a friendly manner and try to get the mom to see that the constant back and forth is tiring for the child(ren). You have a few months to work on this before you need to decide if you have to take it to court. Just one question though, if you are planning to move back by the time school starts then the current schedule is not going to be a huge problem then. Why are you fighting it now?

                  Remember children are resilient, and even the worst planned 50/50 access schedule is better than less time with dad. Make sure this is a battle you need to fight.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for your message, billiechic. Because I've not been able to find any compelling evidence to support the idea from a scientific standpoint, and because of the risks you mention, I've decided to put this plan to rest for now. At this point, there are less risky and damaging options; namely, finding alternate day care arrangements while keeping everything else the same. I have no doubt I'll need to go to battle at some point, but right now isn't the time.


                    • #11
                      There isn't any compelling statistics either for or against and the psychologists argue both sides. That shouldn't stop you from taking steps. There isn't any evidence against you either. Again, this may take a year anyway. Do what research you can, get your job and housing lined up, look into childcare. Having this kind of plan is important research to show the judge. Offer mediation or to see a parenting counsellor together. Do what you can to be reasonable, and again, try to get her to commit a response in writing so you have something to work from.


                      • #12
                        Yes. putting your plan in place, letting the mother know of you intentions is the right way to go. Breaking up a family puts everyone on their ass, no judge is going to expect that you can walk out of the relationship and be able to find a great job, in the right place, a great apartment etc. We all have to make do at first. As long as you put a plan together and show progress towards it then you won't be losing any points. It shows that you are organized, and committed to your child.

                        Put the plan in place and work on it. Do everything you can to make it work before you have to take it to court. Good Luck!


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