You are both good parents and want to spend equal time with your child. You are now faced with the question of which schedule will work best for your child. There are several things to consider.
Consider your child’s age. Older children benefit from longer stretches with each parent and fewer transitions. Teens often do a week-on/week-off schedule exchanging on either Fridays or Sundays. Sometimes the parent with the “off week” has a Wednesday night overnight or dinner visit.
Young children, on the other hand, benefit from shorter “visits” with each parent and more exchanges so that they do not go too long without seeing the other parent. The “2-2-3” schedule is popular in this instance. Parent “A” has the child for Monday and Tuesday nights, Parent “B” for Wednesday and Thursday nights. Parent “A” then has the weekend (Friday night through Monday morning) with Parent “B” then having Monday and Tuesday nights and the pattern continues. The downside of this schedule is that some parents do not like that weeknights change each week so that they cannot take the child to certain activities each week.
Some children benefit from being with the same parent on the same weekdays each week. The “5-2-2-5” schedule is popular in this instance. Parent “A” has the child every Monday and Tuesday nights, Parent “B” for every Wednesday and Thursday nights. The parties then alternate weekends (Friday night through Monday morning). Some parents do not like the stretches of five nights in a row. However, once a child has done the 2-2-3 they can transition to the 5-2-2-5 when they get a little older, often when they begin kindergarten or first grade.
A less popular happy medium between the 2-2-3 and the 5-2-2-5 is the “3-4-4-3.” Each week, each parent has the same three nights and they alternate the “odd” night of the week. Some couples alternate Saturday nights so that the exchange on Saturday morning one week and Sunday morning the next. I have also had couples that have alternated Wednesday nights.
Also consider whether you want to have a different schedule over the summer. The week-on/week-off schedule may not work for your child during the school year but the lack of homework and the desire to attend week-long camps can make the schedule appealing just for the summer. Parties are free to travel during their weeks without unnecessary coordination with the other parent.
The bottom line is not every schedule works well for every family and there is no one-size-fits-all schedule. Consider your child’s age, maturity level, the distance the parents live apart, and the parents’ work schedules. If you have children with a wide range of ages, make sure your youngest can handle the schedule you select.