As with separated couples, married couples can benefit from a parenting plan. Sharing responsibilities with your spouse means you already have an informal parenting plan in place, but formally describing how parental duties are divided can help ensure that your child’s needs are being properly met. Careful consideration of certain key elements can increase your parenting plan’s effectiveness.
Flexibility is crucial to the ongoing success of any parenting plan. A parenting plan is a guide to assist you and your spouse in determining how important decisions will be reached, which routines will be established, what schedules will be followed and what special arrangements need to be made. The value of a parenting plan lies in its ability to identify and cater to the child’s best interests. Flexibility in a parenting plan leaves rooms for making necessary adjustments as your child grows and his needs change.
Splitting Parental Duties
You and your spouse both bring valuable gifts to the parenting table. Your parenting plan should take advantage of individual strengths by dividing responsibilities in a manner that brings out the best in each parent. If, for instance, you are a morning person but your spouse is a night owl, you can take responsibility for early morning childcare and bed time duties can be assigned to your spouse. Make a list of all the parental responsibilities you can think of and collaborate with your spouse to evenly divide the work between the two of you in a way that benefits the family as a whole.
Your parenting plan should specify expectations that are reasonable, realistic and fair for all members of the family. Familiarize yourselves with your children's ages and stages of development and use them as a guide to establish reasonable expectations as your children move from one stage of development to another. Being realistic about expectations that you and your spouse have for each other is also an important part of your parenting plan.
Open, honest and ongoing communication between you and your spouse is a critical component of your parenting plan. Your parenting plan should address your family’s preferred methods of communication such as weekly discussions over family dinner during which you can evaluate how things are going and talk about any pressing issues that may arise. Detailing the process by which important family decisions will be made is also an important part of addressing communication in a parenting plan.
Predictable routines provide a sense of structure that benefits every member of the family. Outline daily routines like mealtimes and bedtimes in your parenting plan. You can also include special family traditions and rituals like holiday or birthday celebrations and routine family vacations.