How to Create a Parenting Schedule

A crucial first step in co-parenting as separated parents is to create a parenting schedule. A good parenting schedule will deal with much more than just how much time the children will spend with each parent. The many details of a child’s schedule should be considered, including the location and time of exchanges between households, mealtimes, bedtimes, school events, extracurricular activities, medical appointments, holidays, and more.

Parents understand the needs of their children better than anyone else, including a judge who will have very limited time to learn about your family before making orders that may fundamentally reorder your lives. Ideally, separating parents will use this knowledge to create a parenting schedule that best meets these needs before a judge is tasked with doing so.

Various parenting plan templates are available online and can form the foundation for your shared parenting plan:

  • A week-on, week-off parenting schedule provides that the children spend seven full days with each parent at a time. This schedule works well when parents live a considerable distance from each 
  • A 2-2-3 schedule repeated every two weeks and allows each parent three consecutive days every two weeks, usually from Friday – Sunday. This schedule ensures that the children are with either parent frequently. 
  • Other repeating bi-weekly schedules include the 2-2-5-5 and 3-3-4-4 routines, which provide more extended parenting time while still short of a fill

Template parenting plans are also available for parents that agree that they will not share parenting time equally and that one parent will 60% or more of available parenting time. These plans typically provide that the parent that does not have majority parenting time will have parenting time every second weekend, with the child(ren) returning to the primary home on Sundays. These plans often provide for additional time prior to or after each alternating weekend, and/or additional parenting time on weekdays.

Open, frank, and respectful communication will generally make co-parenting much easier. Once you have settled on a schedule, you may find that a shared calendar will assist both parents in tracking parenting time, childcare, and school events, extracurricular activities, holidays and more. Parenting applications like Our Family Wizard can also be very helpful:

Try to keep in touch with your children, particularly when you are not able to exercise parenting time. There are many free, simply and secure video-calling applications available for this.

What is best for your children now may change in time. Your parenting schedule might need to evolve as your children get older and their needs change.

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