Most locals around Virginia Beach get asked the same question by visitors: “Do you have any insider tips on how to have a good time in Virginia Beach?” We offer the usual ideas: visit Sandbridge for a quiet beach visit; try Catch 31; shop on Atlantic Avenue. Sometimes, though, we get a much more serious question: “Do you have any good tips on developing parenting plans, so I can spend quality time with my kids after the divorce?” Here ya go.

With Parenting, Every Minute Counts

After the shell-shock of divorce, the parenting plan may seem like something that can wait. The problem is that your children need the stability and predictability a parenting plan provides. Waiting a week, a few weeks … a month??? … is bad for you, your ex-wife, and the children.

We get why you may procrastinate. Developing a workable parenting plan is difficult, but do not let perfect be the enemy of satisfactory. Better to start some kind of schedule and then improve upon it than to wait for the ideal schedule to form.

Every minute counts in the life of a child. Too many parents look back on their children’s early years and wonder how the time went by so fast.

Remain Child-Centered

If both you and your wife remember always to put the needs of your children first, you will reach agreement on a parenting plan. Mediate offers several suggestions, but one standout is incorporate your children’s developmental needs into your plan.

Research suggests that quality time with a parent is more important than quantity, in that a parent more attuned to a child’s unique temperament may deserve more parenting time than the other parent. As Mediate puts it,

“Asking also about unique temperament differences and challenges of each child (Saposnek, 1998; 2006) can help guide a discussion that leads to creating a maximum “goodness of fit” with each parent. For example, it may lead to more time with a parent who has greater tolerance for standout temperament challenges, such as a child with a very high activity level.”

Think Like Your Kid

Many divorced parents seem to think they need to transform into Uncle Moneybags. Forget about the material things. Think like your own child. Minimize the freight hauling, the constant shuffling between two parents’ homes, the constant showering of gifts and bribes. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and think what is more important: going here and there, getting this or that toy, or spending genuine, connected time with dear ol’ Dad?

Avoid setting your child up each week with some hefty requirements (“Don’t forget to bring your camping gear!” “This weekend we’ll be snorkeling, so pack your swim fins.”). Be respectful of the actual, physical  baggage your child has to cart back and forth, and consider keeping specialized clothes and equipment on hand at your place. Be prepared with extra toothbrushes, socks, kids’ vitamins and similar easily forgotten items. Every minute wasted on trivial matters is a minute less of Dad time.

Buy An Actual Calendar

We all have (and forget) special days. Your children have special days, too, say wise advisers at Our Family Wizard. Sure, there’s an app for that, but nothing beats a wall calendar for reminding yourself of your children’s schedules and important milestones.

Beyond birthdays, consider special school functions, athletic competitons, recitals, drama productions, and friends’ birthdays. Maybe little Lucy has a tradition of going to Patty’s house for a sleepover the week before school starts. Honor little Lucy and show her you remember.

When developing the parenting plan, start with the important dates. Respect them. Telegraph to your children that you respect their lives and their significant moments.

Expect Problems

It sounds morose, we know, but expect problems. Whose life proceeds without problems, anyway?

The other parent will be late; children get sick; teenagers get in trouble and need both parents. Your car breaks down as you’re taking the kids back after a great parenting time.

Avoid immediately threatening to take your ex-wife back into court just because small things happen. Encourage her to express the same forgiving nature. It makes implementing a parenting plan more a pleasure than a chore.

Stay Open to Possibilities

When getting down to the actual days, weeks and months of a parenting schedule, be willing to compromise, be open to suggestions, and embrace technology.

Custody X Change, for example, provides both tips and solutions for parenting plans. Without getting into heated arguments, you and your ex-wife can explore various parenting time schedules, calculate exact timeshare minutes for each child, and trade off provisions based on each of your needs.

Our Family Wizard, quoted earlier, is another tool that helps divorced parents work out parenting plans, child custody and visitation, and activities for everyone to stay aware of.

Many such programs and apps exist; all offer many possible solutions some parents have not even thought of. 2Houses helps you communicate with your ex in a neutral platform; it also keeps track of “wish lists,” children’s events, and requests for changes to the existing schedule. It makes being open and approachable a whole lot easier.

Want one more good tip? Contact us online or call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184. You can speak with a genuine Virginia family law attorney, get useful advice on parenting plans, parenting time, child custody, and much more. Our team of experienced attorneys is ready to work for you, Virginia’s men, to preserve your rights.