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Advice for 50/50 care for children after separation

(26 Posts)
Kracken Mon 18-Aug-14 07:29:37

Would really appreciate some advice on this as I'm not sure what is for the best. STBXH and I will also be having Relate 'separation counselling' which I guess will include this type of thing but some practical examples would be great. I have read some research that 50/50 care is not necessarily best for the children so obviously I'm worried about that.

DD1 is 7 and DD2 is 3. STBXH and I will be living on the same road, 2 minutes walk apart. We both work full time, DD1 is at school and after school club and DD2 is at nursery. We split childcare during the week 50/50 at present, STBXH does mornings as I start work at 8am and I do evenings as he works until around 6pm. However post separation we will be able to adust our working hours to do mornings and evenings on 'our' days.

At weekends we tend to all hang out together unless one of us has work to do.

Don't know if it's relevant but we both arrange play dates and take the children to their various activities outside of school so all that is already shared as well.

So, let's get to the point!! We want to share care 50/50 as we feel that is best and equal for the children but we don't want to confuse or upset the children any more than they will be anyway. Does anyone have experience of a successful 50/50 share and if so what was the pattern of days? What are the pitfalls and what are the benefits of this kind of care?

I am aware of the need for constant communication with STBXH once we split and I think this will be fine. The split is pretty amicable and we already run our lives on emails, reminders and a shared diary.

Thanks very much for any thoughts and sorry this is long!

mrskitty Mon 18-Aug-14 08:22:23

Hi,

It's early days for us but we've been separated for 3 months now with 50/50 care of our children (7 and 4).
I think I've probably read the same research as you. I'm marking my place on your thread for any tips or success stories regarding this sort of arrangement.

This is how things work for us;
I live about 5 minutes drive away from the children's dad. We agreed that he would stay in what was the family home due to my work arrangements - we thought it'd be more stable for the children as he is 9-5 mon-fri.

Weekends, if I'm not at work and they're not away somewhere then we will sometimes spend a day all together out somewhere or I'll pop over for a while.

I work 12 hour shifts, days and nights, usually in runs of 3or 4 shifts a week. When I'm in work the children live with their Dad in what was the family home, and when I'm off they stay with me. Although I work a rotating roster and therefore there is a pattern of sorts, it's not particularly identifiable, especially to the kids, so I've given DS (7) a diary so he knows where he'll be each night.

DS seems to have adjusted quite well (I hope). DD (nearly 5) sometimes seems okay but other times gets very distressed on the phone to me when she's not seen me for a couple of days, which is upsetting. Other times she appears fine, although I do think she is anxious about things and would obviously rather see me every day :-(

When the children are with me their dad often pops in for half an hour or so to see them on his way home from work. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to do the same as I don't get back until 730pm and when I have called round it becomes very disruptive and DD gets upset as she's tired due to the time of day.

Practicalities... We each have a bag by the door for anything they want to take to the others house anytime.
There is enough school uniform/ clothes/shoes/toys etc at each house so they feel each house is their home and they're not constantly packing stuff.

We've had play dates over the holidays where the kids have wanted to have it at dad's house due to toys/space whatever, so I've taken them there and spent the day there, which he is fine with.

Sorry if this is a bit jumbled - I've just put things down as I've thought of them. I hope this works out as I think the children deserve time with both of parents and I know that we both want to spend ad much time as possible with them. I have major wobbles about whether we've done the right thing in separating and worrying about the long term effects on the children and on our relationships with them, but I'm hopeful that by keeping them as the priority in both of our lives they will continue to grow up feeling secure and loved and that they will adjust to being a two home family...

hamptoncourt Mon 18-Aug-14 12:10:24

One of my sisters did 50/50 very successfully for 18 years as she split with her husband soon after my niece was born.

They both worked full time and DN was in nursery.

The way they did it was week on/week off. This may sound a bit extreme but it was easier for them to sort their work out around it and DN says it never bothered her.

Good luck.

PlantsAndFlowers Mon 18-Aug-14 12:16:18

I have 50/50 care and it works well. The main thing is that we are amicable about it (although not about much else!) So for instance I am always taking her to her fathers with not quite the right school equipment that she needs for the next day, and ex will say 'oh she needs such and such' so I will go home and get it. If he were to be a twat and funny about me forgetting things then that would be horrible for DD.

kaykayblue Mon 18-Aug-14 12:22:47

I have never done this, but I just wanted to give a word of warning, that perhaps others might be able to actually advise on.

You guys living so close together, and basically still in each other's pockets is going to work well for your children right now. I'm not denying that at all.

However, this sort of arrangement would get extremely awkward extremely quickly when one of you gets a new partner. It obviously wouldn't be fair to them for an ex partner to just "pop in" to see the kids on a day when they are supposed to be with you.

I think it's good that you two had an amicable split, and that you clearly both have the best interests of the children at heart. At the same time, there was obviously a reason that you two split. I would just strongly advise that you have the discussion about boundaries between the two of you, and what you would two if one of you had a new hypothetical partner. It's better to have those sorts of conversations now rather than everything hit the fan when it happens.

ChickOnaMission Mon 18-Aug-14 13:47:52

I'm in a very similar situation, my ex has my 2 DC (10 & 3) 3 nights a week, Monday night & then Thursday to Saturday afternoon. We also socialise together for birthdays etc and have had short holidays all together. We're very amicable now which definitely helps.

Both houses are set up with their own space, toys and clothes that stay in each house rather than packing bags all the time.

Feedback from my daughter 10 is that it's nice to have 2 bedrooms, (2 advent calenders at xmas!) she says she still feels like we're a family, sometimes one of them will ask to stay at Daddy's/Mummy's that night instead and we normally accommodate that. Sometimes one will go and not the other. The kids feel like they have two permanent homes.

But I also second kays comment about new partners. I've got a FWB who I know is not interested in meeting the kids and I don't want more so no issue for me. But I do wonder what will happen when my EX gets a girlfriend. He says it wont affect anything and any new woman will have to accept our arrangement. But I can't see that being all plain sailing. But for now, the kids are very happy with this, and I think if you are amicable about it all then 50/50 can be good. It's been good for us.

Incidentally we initially agreed 2 nights a week with him and he pushed for 3 and I didn't like the idea but it's actually worked out very well. Splitting it over different days rather than in a block means that they're never mroe than a couple of days from seeing either of us.

getthefeckouttahere Mon 18-Aug-14 15:55:00

This will be fab, ace for you two and wonderful for your kids, it mirrors my situation almost exactly and with goodwill, a smile and a the very very occasional biting of tongue it can work fantastically.
Even new partners don't tend to screw it up much imo, as long as you make clear to said partners that this is how we look after our children together, don't get humpy with it or you'll be out on your ear!
If you crack this you'll have wonderful, happy, well adjusted kids who cope with your split really well. good luck.

Lookingforabetteryear Mon 18-Aug-14 15:58:26

If you don't crack it you will probably have well adjusted children too.

MyChildDoesntNeedSleep Mon 18-Aug-14 16:09:38

Any chance of a link to the research? I've got this kind of set-up too and I'm interested in what the 'experts' think.

getthefeckouttahere Mon 18-Aug-14 16:26:08

well looking, that depends on how you don't to crack it doesn't it? If it involves, arguing, bickering, unreliability, tension, denial of access to both parents, badmouthing of parents to children then i suspect that its much less likely.

But of course all parents in all situations can and do make a success of it. I was extolling the virtues of this system, which is the same as my own as this was what the thread was about. confused

wallypops Mon 18-Aug-14 18:40:53

Although this is the last thing in your thoughts now, imagine if you are in a new relationship in the future with someone else who is divorced with kids. My best advice is to keep it relatively simple. It can be impossible to see a new partner if you both have different and conflicting childcare. It can mean you never ever ever have a night without the kids - so your choices are never seeing each other or introducing the kids earlier (a lot easier) than you desired.

So changeovers on Fridays, for example, with maybe one night in the week - say Monday or Tuesday night - that they are at the other parents. ie Fri, Sat, Sun with Mummy, Mon with Dad, Tues, Wed, Thurs with Mum, Friday to Dads for the same deal.

TheHoneyBadger Mon 18-Aug-14 19:07:44

as to the new partners - well hopefully both you and your ex are committed enough parents that you wouldn't let any new partner change things. someone said, 'it's not fair' on a new partner. kind of tough shit tbh. if i chose to get involved with a man with a 50/50 contact arrangement and close parenting relationship with his children's mother then i'd know what i was getting myself into and be being an unreasonable bitch if i suddenly got shitty about it and expected children's lives to change for my insecurity issues.

obviously different if there is wonky stuff going on with blurred boundaries beyond the parenting relationship but that's separate.

OP you need to know if you trust your ex to stay a solid dad or think he'd go all unreliable if a new woman hit the scene with demands of change - having said that how can you really know? might be worth discussing with him.

honestly the kids will be lucky if htey have two happy parents, living close and both providing stable homes for them and both being full on parents.

mrskitty Tue 19-Aug-14 00:08:25

I'm so glad to hear of the positive experiences on this thread. I take on board what some posters have said about the 'popping in' scenario once new partners are on the scene, but I think that that's a long way off and think that at the moment it's the right thing for us all, certainly for the children (although it does mess with my head at times confused !)

mrskitty Tue 19-Aug-14 00:18:48

mychilddoesn't... I'll try to find what I'd read and link to it, but don't have time right now. I think it was an Australian site.

TheHoneyBadger Tue 19-Aug-14 09:55:47

another with the 'new partners' business - with a 50/50 childcare arrangement you might actually have the time to FIND one and be able to have sex with them now and then grin

i have a 100% 'arrangement' (re: didn't get much say in the matter) and it doesn't leave much room for meeting men and when you do it can be very... frustrating shall we say.

MadameBabawic Tue 19-Aug-14 10:10:13

I split up with exh 3 months ago - we have one week each from friday 4pm (after school) to the following friday. Our DDs are 7 and 5 and things are not going too badly at all actually.

Ex is keeping the house and until I have found a flat not too far away (but not in same village as i want a new start) we are sharing the house and on our weeks 'off' i go back to my mums and he goes to his parents. Not ideal but it's until the money linked to the house is sorted. Though it means that DDs have not actually started the one week at mine and the other at their dads.. I have been talking about it preparing them as i find this is the most important thing - as long as they know what's coming then it's much better, for everyone.
This isn't a situation that could work if we couldn't talk about things though - funnily enough one of the main reasons I wanted to divorce.

I have to second a PP in that i actually have time to live a life for me too, other than work and kids and i have a social life now! Come wednesday i'm more than ready to spend a great wend with them - for me it's a good compromise and even though it's early days.. seems ok for everyone involved, though it obviously depends on each situation. And the point about new partners is a good one!

ChickOnaMission Tue 19-Aug-14 10:13:29

YES YES to the having a life and having time to find a new partner. My social life (and sex life!) is a MILLION times better now grin

TheHoneyBadger Tue 19-Aug-14 13:15:00

click 50% sounds blissful to me (in an ideal world with a father who was trustworthy and workable with). all the best of being a parent but also time to oneself and for a life aside from it. i know some people are horrified at the idea of time separate from their children but i can only imagine how good a mother i'd be if i got that much time to myself.

PlantsAndFlowers Tue 19-Aug-14 14:27:56

Yes HoneyBadger, I am definitely a better parent now I am no longer a full time SAHM, it's bliss.

Borttagen Tue 19-Aug-14 14:31:46

No personal experience but here in Sweden 50/50 is the norm and most people seem to do week on/off.

Kracken Tue 19-Aug-14 20:31:08

Wow, thanks so much for all of these amazing positive responses everyone! Sorry I've not been back for a while, I am in Suffolk on holiday with a dodgy wifi connection but it's OK this evening. This is my first holiday on my own with the girls (just 3 nights) and it's been bloody hard work! With fun bits of course. After a day out at a forest/adventure playground which I mostly spent breaking up fights and listening to whining and screaming they were parked in front of Frozen as soon as we got home and only disturbed for frozen pizza and chips which was all I had the energy to cook blush

There are clearly loads of different patterns for 50/50 care. We originally discussed week on/week off but decided DD2 is probably a bit too young for it as I think she'd struggle away from either of us for a whole week. I'd certainly consider it when she was older though. I also suggested keeping the girls in one house and for he and I to swap houses depending on our days but he works from home and has a large home office which would be expensive and complicated to replicate in the other house. So, I think they will move between houses and it's great to have all the tips on how to make sure things don't get misplaced between houses and the girls can take favourite items to and from each place. We will definitely have all clothes, uniform and toys duplicated in both places (heads to ebay to buy some clothes bundles...).

We have talked about what would happen when we meet other people. I think I am about a year away from even thinking about dating!! At the moment we are both adament that a new relationship would not affect the shared care and the children at all and I do trust STBXH totally, trust issues were not the reason we broke up. It is of course hard to predict how he might behave in a new relationship however.

I am rather looking forward to having time to myself!! Thanks so much to those of you who have admitted enjoying the time without the children- it makes me feel way less guilty! grin

TheHoneyBadger Fri 22-Aug-14 07:56:43

don't feel guilty! this is how it would be in an equal world really i guess and as others have said is the standard starting point post break up in some countries. you made the children together, raised them so far together so post separation really it should remain a 50/50 effort in terms of money, time and care.

also when tempted to feel guilty think about how much more energetic and focussed a mother you will be by having time to yourself and a life beyond being mum. plus the children are getting both of their parents still as parents in a meaningful way and therefore retaining their grandparents equally and extended family etc in a way that's hard to achieve in an every other weekend kind of arrangment.

it sounds like you're being incredibly grown up about your split and moving forward and very much putting the children first - that's something to be proud of, no need for guilt smile

FinallyGotAnIPhone Sat 23-Aug-14 23:37:28

Hi I don't quite have 50/50 care but my weekly routine is like this for my two DD who are 4 and 1. I work four days a week and ex works 5 days a week.

Monday - I drop off and pick up from nursery/ school, they stay at mine.
Tues - I drop off, ex picks them up, they stay at his.
Weds - ex drop off and pick up, stay at his.
Thurs - ex drop off, I pick up, stay at mine.
Friday - I am off all day.
Weekends- play by ear. If either of us wants to go out, kids stay with the other one. Seems to work for now. We've been split for a year and on this arrangement for the last six months since I been back at work after mat leave.

Kids have bedrooms/ clothes/ toys at both houses. 4 year old is relaxed now about where she goes - early days her default was that she wanted to stay at mine and it would break my heart when she didn't want to go to his, but now she is quite happy to stay at daddy's.

I absolutely love having Tues/Weds to myself. Means I can work late/ go out/ do sport.

We live 5 mins drive away from each other. We are sometimes amicable, sometimes not.

If we had the above arrangement with alternate weekends it would be broadly speaking 50/50.

Good luck OP.

Lezprechaun Sun 24-Aug-14 00:28:21

I have 50/50 care and it's brilliant! Worked for 7 years now and the kids are happy (especially with double
Christmas). Living close is essential for schools and friends as is maintaining communication with each other. We do changeover on Wednesday and Saturday as it fits in with work routines so they spend half the week at each home with Christmas Day being alternated.

Lezprechaun Sun 24-Aug-14 00:34:19

Just to add both myself and ex have new partners and other children with said new partners and it hasn't affected things at all! All 4 of is work well together to parent the children together. Only issue we occasionally have is youngest DD wanting to go to ex's with older siblings and not understanding why she can't.

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