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The situation:

I have a seven year old son. His mother and I parted ways shortly after he was born. She is the primary custodial parent. Our current relationship has been pretty good. We are usually able to find a compromise without any issue.

I live in a different city from my son and his mother. It is about a 6 hour drive from the city I live in to the one he lives in. Our current visitation schedule is that I get three of the four weekends each month with my son and his mother picks which one is hers. I drive to the city he lives in after work on Fridays and spend Saturday and Sunday with him. I am allowed to work-from-home one week a month. During that week I return my son at bed time on Sunday. Each other weekend I return my son on Sunday at about 4:00 PM so that I can make it back home in time to sleep and return to work the next day.

The problem:

My son's mother has been his teacher in a private school up until this school year started. Her school is not covering 2nd grade, so my son cannot continue in her school. He is now enrolled in a public school. Due to this and the change where I am allowed to work-from-home, his mother wants to adjust our visitation schedule. She proposed that I would have him with me for the week I am allowed to work-from-home, but I would have to give up one of the weekends with him.

My issue with this suggestion is that I would have only two weekends with my son each month. If those two weekends were together on the week I am in town, then I would not be able to see my son again for nearly three weeks. If the weekends are separated, then the week that I have my son I will have to give him up on one of the weekends around it. That means I will be in town, but not be allowed to see my son. It also means I will drive just as many weekends even though I am losing one of them. In addition, I generally work until 6:00 PM, so I would only be able to see my son about two hours after work each day, which is significantly less than when I would see him on weekends.

The question:

How can I work with my son's mother's suggestion and still find something that works for me?

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    I would imagine that since she is in a different school now than him, she too is sorting what to do with her less time with him as well. Have you discussed where he would be after school until 6pm? Does she have anything lined up for him on the other weeks already? I am not sure I fully understand all the logistics, but also don't discount that you would have mornings with him all week, dinner, etc. Those things matter, even if it's less actual hours. – threetimes Aug 15 '17 at 2:32
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    Have you told us what would work for you? It sounds like you're losing a weekend but gaining a week...five more nights to spend together with helping with schoolwork, dinner, evenings, bedtine stories, etc. I don't understand what would work better for you timewise. – anongoodnurse Aug 15 '17 at 13:58
  • The things that bother me are 1) being apart from my son for three weeks if I take both weekends together 2) the idea of being in town on a weekend that I spent time to drive, but not being able to see my son (in the case that my two weekends are not together) 3) reducing my "real" time with my son. If I get the five days, it is more time, but I cannot actually spend more than about two hours of it with him each day. I know they are difficult constraints to work with. I was hoping for some kind of creative solution that I am just not seeing. – anon Aug 15 '17 at 14:41
  • How strict is your schedule with the mother? I don't see why being in town would necessarily mean not seeing your son because it's "her" weekend. Maybe I'm too naive and don't see the core issue, but as you are in fact co-parents so where would be the problem if you, for example took your son to the park for an hour or so, giving the mother a breather and vice versa? Maybe a less "mutually exclusive" concept and more flexibility could help you. A few years down the road you will have to include the social calendar of a teenager in your common planning. – Stephie Aug 15 '17 at 18:52
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    Oh, and I'd like to add that your current description of the problem sounds a bit like a "who gets X hours of /[a toy/]" issue. My suggestion would be to focus less on time and more on which parent has which demands on an agreement - working hours and child care and extras like sports clubs and other activities (both for the parents and the child) - and see if you can find a solution for that. Adult with less pressure make more relaxed parents ^_^ – Stephie Aug 15 '17 at 19:02
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You can drive down on the Sunday night before the week that you have him and keep him through the following weekend. Then skip the next weekend and have him for the one after that. (It sounds like you have some kind of second residence or something in the city he lives in, as you never mention actually taking him back to your house).

I don't know if I'm missing some details, but it's difficult for me to grasp why you're objecting to this proposal - you get more time with your son, in which you and he both get to experience the routine that makes up the bulk of one another's lives. This can create a closer connection and better understanding of each other, as well as teach your son that dad is a reliable parent and not just a "fun time guy." He can see you working hard (both to take care of him during the week, and towards your own goals through work, both of which are great things for him to see).

I believe this could be a difficult adjustment for you, if you've never had to worry about his schedule before, or if you've never had to assist with homework, or strictly adhere to a bed time routine, or plan a week ahead how you're going to feed two people at the same time every night. I don't know if you've tended to cook for your son, or if you've been able to get away with taking him out all the time (which might be feasible when it's just a weekend, but becomes impractical when it's 7 consecutive days. You also might have to pack lunches for him).

In summary, I can see having an objection to your son's mom's proposal on the basis of this is a huge increase in my responsibilities that I'm not sure I want/am able to take on. I would say, choose to be flattered that she thinks you can handle it. And- you probably can. And it will probably do you a world of good, as well as bringing you and your son much closer. But yes, it might be really rough the first couple of times, because you don't have practice with that side of parenting yet.

  • Thank you for your answer. You are correct that I have another residence to stay in while in town. I am a little nervous about the increased responsibility, but I get a two week period in the summer with my son, so I have a little experience there. My biggest concerns are the period of time between visits increases no matter how I arrange the weekends + week. With your suggestion applied to September, I'd see him on the 4th (Mon) through the 10th (Sun), then again on 16th and 17th (Sat + Sun). After that I wouldn't see him again until Oct 9th which is 21 days. (cont.) – anon Aug 17 '17 at 2:09
  • Even fiddling with the arrangement, I can get the time between visits down to 12 days, but that would be every visit. My normal schedule now is to see him nearly every weekend with 5 days between and one long break with 12 days between. – anon Aug 17 '17 at 2:12
  • @anon how have you previously dealt with months that have 5 weekends? You can suggest that you get 3 of 5 and 2 of 4. – MAA Aug 17 '17 at 11:00

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