Parenting After Divorce: Using a Shared Calendar to Keep Organized
The emotional burden of getting divorced and the legal proceedings that come with it can be overwhelming to a lot of parents and their children. Each person must deal with the emotional fallout of separation as well as learn how to parent solo, and kids can often feel emotional repercussions and face disruptions in their daily lives as a result.
In order to minimize the emotional toll as well as disruptions to children’s everyday lives, newly-single parents need to come up with a way to work together peacefully. One of the best ways to do so is to use organizational tools ,meant for keeping track of family members’ schedules, such as a shared agenda. This brief guide will help you and your former partner use shared calendars to continue co-parenting even after you’ve separated.
Why Use a Shared Calendar?
Many new divorcees underestimate the difficulty of co-parenting. The process of divorce can be overwhelming and sometimes painful, so communication can easily become toxic or even nonexistent. However, clearly communicating schedules is essential to ensure that your children transition into this new system as well as to avoid mishaps, such as forgetting who was supposed to collect a child from school.
Shared calendars thus enable separated parents to communicate in a neutral arena without having to directly contact each other for every small question or issue, yielding numerous benefits that not only lessen your emotional burden but also help your kids better retain their sense of normalcy after divorce or separation.
The most obvious benefit is minimizing disagreements by making all info readily available for both parties. For example, in a custody agreement where each party alternates weekends with the kids, you might lose track of whose weekend is coming up. Without a shared schedule, this issue could quickly become a fight, but with one, you can simply check without even calling your former spouse. In fact, during custody proceedings, you can even work with an arbiter to upload the court-mandated agreement to your agenda and establish a procedure for negotiating changes.
Once you’ve found your rhythm, custody agreements and co-parenting function smoothly – that is, until they don’t. When a major event occurs, such as if a parent must take a week-long business trip, readjusting agendas can create fights and animosity. However, with shared calendars, each parent can post major events as they occur and reschedule any time lost as needed.
Coordinating Pick-ups and Appointments
One of the most common tales of post-divorce parenting is the child left at daycare because neither parent realized it was their turn for pick-up. These cases, while easily solvable, are all too common, and they oftentimes impact kids emotionally more than we realize. Therefore, in a shared app, you and your co-parent can establish pick-ups and rides to appointments, assigning one parent to each task, and the app will notify you in advance to ensure that you remember that it’s your turn to pick up a child from school.
Remembering Major Events
A shared schedule can also be used to coordinate and remind you of major events like basketball games, school plays, and trips to grandparents’ houses. Say, for example, that your child tells you about their choir performance and neglects to tell their other parent. Without a means of communication, this omission may go unnoticed, leading to a disappointed child at best or a major argument with your former spouse at worst. However, shared calendars enable the informed parent to upload the event once they hear about it, so both parents will know about it and be reminded when the time comes.
What if my Former Spouse Isn’t on Board?
In some cases, you may have difficulty convincing your former spouse to jump on board with and fully utilize a shared schedule – despite its obvious benefits. Many times, this resistance simply requires a bit more convincing, but sometimes, it may require more serious intervention. Here’s how to best manage common issues that can arise when using these types of apps to manage co-parenting.
In some cases, your fellow co-parent may resist these apps because they are resistant to incorporating technology into their everyday lives in general. If this is the case, all they usually need is a little help and some gentle persuasion. If your former partner isn’t very tech savvy, then choose an intuitive, user-friendly app with plenty of help features to make the adjustment easier, and you can manage some of the more technical aspects (such as initially setting up calendars) while giving them leeway to make small changes or suggestions. In general, technology-resistant people believe that using technology will make their lives more difficult, so you should convince them that in this case, it will make everything easier.
Even if your former partner agrees to the app, they may struggle with actually using it, forgetting to enable notifications or even to add events or request changes. While these snafus are common as parents get accustomed to life after getting divorced, they should fade as time goes on. However, if this forgetfulness becomes a serious issue, then you will need to have a serious discussion about the importance of using shared tools and remembering particular duties.
Sometimes, your former spouse may outright refuse to use any kind of scheduling app for a number of reasons. Initial refusal can often be a knee-jerk reaction to an emotionally strained situation, so you may want to give your ex-spouse space before asking again. Additionally, you may request that your arbitrator or counsel speak to them directly and advocate the benefits of using these types of apps for co-parenting children, which include minimizing direct communication.
However, outright refusal to coordinate co-parenting strategies can sometimes be an indication of a greater refusal to work together in general. Even in the midst of separation, parents must work together to create a positive environment for their children, and if one party seems to refuse to cooperate, then you may want to consult outside expertise to resolve these issues.
Tips for Creating a Shared Schedule
While a shared agenda is certainly useful, if it’s used improperly or poorly, it can become a disorganized mess. Therefore, you should follow these tips to ensure that this tool improves your ability to seamlessly co-parent.
Give Older Children Limited Access
If your child is old enough to understand what is going on in the divorce, then they should have some agency in the co-parenting process, and you should enable them to see how both parents plan to manage agendas and coordinate events. Therefore, you should give an older child limited access to this app to view your organizational system, and you can even enable a more independent child to make changes to events that directly impact them (e.g. if their football practice is canceled and they need to be picked up at the regular time).
Keeping different people and items organized requires clear labeling, which can be accomplished through color coding. Both parents and each child should be assigned a particular color, and major events that involve multiple children or parents can be separately coded. While preferred colors or systems will vary, you should create a color code system that is simple and easy to understand.
In the application that you use, you should be able to assign tasks to a particular person in order to clearly establish responsibility. For example, if a child needs to be picked up one day from soccer practice, then you can assign one person to the task, and the app will notify them,Â come time for pick up. Additionally, assigning tasks ensures that both parents don’t receive every single notification when they don’t need to, allowing them to focus on their children without stressing about their former partner.
Your shared app should also have a feature that forces both parties to approve certain changes, such as a change in custody schedule or assigned responsibilities. For example, if you can no longer leave work during the day to take a child to a doctor’s appointment, you can request that your co-parent does so. If they cannot, they can refuse the change, and from there, you can reschedule the child’s appointment as needed.
Keep Clear of Clutter
While shared calendars are a great way to organize your life, you should make sure that you’re not posting extraneous or irrelevant information on them. In this case, you want to make sure that every event that you post to a co-parenting calendar has to do with a particular family member or would impact your ability to parent during a given time. This not only keeps everything neat and organized, but it also allows you to move on with your life without stressing over what your former partner is doing.
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