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  • During my divorce I agreed to share my children 50% of the time with their dad. 
  • They spend one week with me and one week with their dad. 
  • My time always feels rushed and goes by to quickly. 
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When my marriage was crumbling, during a fight and under pressure, I agreed to share time with my children 50/50. I have deep regrets about agreeing to this arrangement without a lawyer. Five months after filing temporary orders and struggling to make progress with a settlement by ourselves, I finally got one.

My ex-husband wanted to fight for full custody. At the time, I thought sharing time equally was better than fighting someone who wanted to ensure I had nothing. 

We alternate weeks, so the kids are with me one week and with him the next. Since I handled much of the day-to-day needs and nurturing of my children before the divorce, it is difficult to see the parenting plan as anything but losing time with my kids.

My weeks with my children always feel rushed and too quick. However, I’ve learned to make the most of my time when it feels so limited. 

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It lowers my anxiety to teach my kids to be independent

It hurts my heart when I imagine my daughter getting ready for bed, and I’m not there to braid her hair and read together. I miss connecting with my son, joking around, and even talking about homework or something interesting about science assignments. 

During our time together, I’ve taught my kids how to put on sunscreen and tend to their hygiene,  to listen to their body, to hydrate, and encouraging these good habits has helped not only my kids but me cope with concerns when I can’t be there every day now. 

I know my kids may get less sleep, less quality meals, and less homework done at the other parent’s home. I try to focus on my week and how to pick up the slack from the previous week. 

For example, every Friday, regardless of which parent’s week it is, I ask my kids about upcoming school assignments and tests, or any supplies or things they may need for the following week. Thinking ahead always helps to lower my stress and helps me maximize my time with my kids when they’re with me.

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I focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t do

Not being able to see my kids as much as I want means finding new ways to connect.

Nothing in the decree says I can’t have lunch with my kids. Sometimes, I have lunch with my daughter at her school and drop off a special lunch for my son at his school when it isn’t my week. Also, nothing says I can’t attend my kids’ activities, so I attend their basketball and soccer games regardless of if it’s my week. 

I also call to say goodnight most evenings, to let them know I’m always there and care. When it feels like I’m constantly making up for lost time, these quick calls mean a lot.

Having something to look forward to with my kids greatly helps my mental health. I plan fun, kid-friendly activities and make reservations for a memorable dinner at our favorite restaurant. Before they arrive on Sunday, I turn on the lights in their bedrooms, do laundry, tidy up, and I stock up with snacks they love so there is more “us” time during the week.

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I will always hate seeing my kids only half the time. Unfortunately, the truth is, just because I want more time with my children doesn’t mean it is easy to get more. I know changing custody can be challenging, especially when the other parent won’t budge on negotiating.  

So I’ll take what I can get. Any amount of extra time with them is special to me.