I'm in a co-parenting situation and I have the feeling our 3.5-year-old son is suffering emotionally from transferring homes too often. He spends one night with mom, then the following night with dad, repeated almost daily, with two consecutive nights with his mom just once a week.

Co-parents generally switch once or twice per week. Are more frequent changes known to cause harm?

3 Answers 3


I don't think there have been any specific studies and each situation would be different. The most important thing is that he is spending time with both of you. The next important thing is routine, if you can have some consistency between both the homes it would make it easier on him. Things such as meal times, bed times and favourite toys. Travel time would be an issue if it is too long. If any of these things becomes an issue you can look at less frequent changovers. We used to talk to our kids on the phone every night for years, to ensure we maintained a connection. This also made the parents less anxious about being away from them for so long. We started out quite frequent with changeovers and eventually got it to once a week over a number of years. My kids turned out great. I wish you all the best for the future, good luck.

  • Thanks for the advice! It's very helpful and sounds like common sense. I'd still love to know if different arrangements have been compared and evaluated in order to determine the potential impact of such arrangements on child development (particularly attachment issues--my son can get very upset when leaving one parent).
    – Clafou
    Apr 23, 2014 at 17:44

I am a father and also a co-parent and my boy is two years 3 months old.

I take him from the kindergarten Wednesdays and Thursdays, and on those days the caregiver of the kindergarten is putting my son into the mood that "Papa will take you today". On the days that she forgot it, my kid was crying when he saw I was there to take him. Otherwise it was all good.

I feel that using the end of the school day as a switch point is good, because it saves the kid the distress from from separating from the mother to go to father and vice-versa. They are just coming from a neutral environment (the school), and you dont break them in the middle of an attachment (to the other parent).

About changing weekly or daily, I dont have experience on that, just theory. In both cases, I believe it will take the kid some time to get along well with that.


I completely agree with routine, and using the school or daycare as an exchange.

Around here, a very common schedule is 2-2-5-5. That is, one parent has Monday and Tuesday, another will have Wednesday and Thursday, and then there are alternating weekends. This makes things much easier for scheduling, and allows the co-parents to do more on the weekend (e.g., a weekend trip).

It can be a bit of a long stretch, and my kids have a 3-4 hour visit on the weekends with the other parent, schedule permitting.

The most important thing is to find a schedule that works for the kids and both parents.

  • I don't understand the "2-2-5-5". A common approach is what's called "2-2-3", which runs over two weeks. It sounds to me like this is what you intended. (And I agree with @user9589 that using the school as the way to exchange has many advantages)
    – coco
    Feb 8, 2015 at 0:35
  • @coco: Just for the record - "2-2-5-5" is a system repeating every two weeks: Mo-Tu with parent A (2 days), We-Th with B (2 d), Fr-Tu with A (5 d), We-Su with B (5 d).So yes, it's "2-2-5-5".
    – sleske
    Jul 23, 2018 at 7:18

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