I Created Fayr for You (and Me)

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Early in our divorce, my ex-wife and I were trying to set up a 50/50 schedule for the kids as we worked out a long-term custody arrangement.  

To say that we were both in a really emotional place would be a tremendous understatement. I knew that it would be far better for our kids to be raised in two stable, loving homes rather than in a single conflict filled one. And yet get used to this new way of living was hard on everyone, much harder than I'd anticipated. 

It's plenty hard to negotiate and navigate parenting duties when you are in a relationship with someone; it was brutal to end a romantic relationship and then instantly need to deal with logistics, communication, and compromise. 

It was in the middle of this tumultuous transitional period that our signals got crossed.

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On one of our custody change days, our signals got very crossed. I showed up during what I thought was the designated window to drop off the kids and their mom wasn't there. She, of course, was expecting them at a totally different time.  

This was more than an inconvenience or cause for a fight. When you're still legally sorting out custody, errors like this can have long-term repercussions regarding the time you get to spend with your kids in the future. Luckily, I had a very savvy attorney who was able to match my toll receipts and email conversations to prove that I had attempted to drop the kids on time. (That, of course, cost me thousands of dollars in lawyers fees and bottomless anxiety for weeks.)

In the middle of this chaos, I just kept wondering, "Why can't this be easier?"

Emotionally, divorce or separation takes a long time to process. I still work all of the time, 7 years later, to make certain that my kids feel loved, stable, and secure. But there are so many opportunities for the smaller things to be made easier: scheduling, communication, finances. 

That situation I just shared with you was one of a dozen mishaps that might have been totally prevented by an app like Fayr. So I built Fayr for you, so that you might not have to go through those extra moments of conflict or strife. I also happen to use it Fayr's messaging and geo-tagging capabilities daily: win-win-win!

Summer Break After Divorce: 7 Ways to Help Your Kids Have the Best Summer Yet

Those long, warm days of summer are just around the corner.

Summer is thought of as a magical time for kids.  It's a chance for them to shake up their routines, get outside, get dirty, learn something new and, most importantly, to have fun.  

However, for kids of separated parents -- especially those who are already struggling with the transition to two homes, a new school, a new stepparent or stepsibling -- the switch to summer mode can feel like yet another form instability in their lives.

The good news?  There are several steps that you can take on as co-parents to help your kids transition smoothly and joyfully into summer.  After all, just because you are co-parenting does not mean you child can't have an exciting, carefree summer of their own!

7 Things to do right now to get your family ready for summer break.

1. Wrap up the school year well.

The final days and weeks of school are often filled with special events and varying schedules depending on your children's ages.  Make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page about important events (graduations, honors nights, assemblies), schedule changes (half days, finals) and tasks which need to be completed (help clear out your child's cubby or locker, thank you notes for teachers) before summer begins.  A smooth end of the school year sets the stage for gentle passage into summer.

2. Confirm the details of your summer child care plans.  

With the kids out of school, as co-parents you are now jointly responsible for an additional 40+ hours of child care each week.  Make certain you're in agreement about who will be care-taking during this extra time-- e.g.: a parent, nanny, daycare, camp, or combination of several -- as well as the cost and new schedule/routine required.  This is the largest of all transitions to summer.  Having both parents on the same page will help your child feel settled even amongst the change.

3. Map out summer activities.  

Will your kids be participating in camps, teams, or lessons this summer?  Take the time to jointly review the schedule, sign-up costs, pick-up and drop-off plans, and incidental expenses for each (Does Sally need a new baseball mitt and cleats for sports camp?  Do books need to purchased for Johnny's art class?  Should Micah rent a tuba for his lessons this summer?).  By agreeing to scheduling and costs up front, you'll be able to avoid a host of potential disagreements over the next several months.

4. Make a plan for the holidays.  

There are a number of holidays between the school year's end and start: Memorial Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, Labor Day.  Determine how the kids are going to spend these holidays, who will have custody, and if that will alter your typical custody calendar.  Perhaps, if your communication is particularly strong, you could even plan a tradition or event that everyone can be present for.

5. Schedule vacations. 

The flexibility of the summer schedule often allows for one or both co-parents to take the kids for an extended trip or vacation.  Make your co-parent knows and agrees to: the dates, costs, location and types of activities the kids will be doing while there.  This type of communication promotes mutual respect and trust (and is often legally mandated, particularly if you are altering your typical custody schedule).  While you're on vacation, you can use the Fayr app's geo-tagging capabilities to confirm your location with your co-parent.

6. Allow for down time.  

All the above being said, please don't forget to set aside chunks of unscheduled time for the kids when they are at both houses. Down time is not the enemy of brain development or well-being -- quite the opposite is true.  Idleness, leisure, and boredom are good for kids.  Creating open space for "kids to be kids" prevents over-scheduling and it gives co-parents a brief reprieve from shuttling kids to and fro.

7. Share the plan with the kids.

In advance of summer break, set a time to go over the kids' new schedules and activities for the summer.  This overview not only helps kids prepare mentally for the transition to summer, it gives them space to ask questions about the changes and to express any worries or anxieties they might be experiencing.  In an ideal world, all parents and kids would be present at this meeting to ensure that the whole family is on the same page.  If this is not an option for you and your co-parent, ensure that you've agreed to the 6 points above before each parent reviews the summer schedule with the kids at their respective homes.  

You Need a Rock-Solid Shared Calendar. Here's Why.

You Need a Rock-Solid Shared Calendar. Here's Why.

We all know that divorce, with its chronic conflict and disruption of established family life, exposes children to a number of risk factors for behavioral and psychological problems.  In total, 20-25% of children from divorced families express lasting problems into adulthood (1).  

A less quoted statistic, however, is that nearly 42% of young adults from divorced families received higher well-being scores as compared to young adults from non-divorced families (1).

With two such disparate outcomes from children in similar situations, it begs the question: what can we do to both prevent problems and ensure high levels of well-being in our children?

What can we do to ensure high levels of well-being in our children?

Resiliency appears to be the answer.  

Although resilience proves difficult to define, it generally refers to “patterns of positive adaptation during or following significant adversity or risk” that allow individuals to “bounce back” to their previous level of well-being or even to attain a higher level of functioning (2), aka: how kids can thrive after divorce. 

Social scientists used to believe that individuals have a finite amount of innate resiliency, but now it's believed to be a skill to strengthen rather than a predetermined trait. As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and psychologist Adam Grant state in their new book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy“Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.” 

So, as co-parents, how do we help our children become more resilient?  

Resiliency grows when children are exposed to adversity within safe boundaries.

Divorce will naturally provide children with plenty of opportunities to develop their resiliency. Too much adversity leads to chronic stress and psychological struggles, causing resiliency to wither. 

What we can do to help them as parents is to give kids a safe, defined and supported container in which to deal with adversity and grow their resiliency.  Among the most important factors in creating this safe space for resiliency to thrive is by effectively sharing, managing and creating boundaries around time.

Below are 3 tools for managing your children's time that will help them thrive after divorce:

  • Share time between co-parents. Custody agreements vary as is appropriate for each family, but it has been found that children benefit from clearly allotted, regular time with both parents. Studies have found that boys especially do better in school and exhibit less externalizing and internalizing problems when they have contact with their noncustodial fathers (3).

  • Create clear boundaries around time. Environments characterized by "defined schedules, rules, and regulations" have been associated with enhanced social and cognitive development in kids from divorced families (3). In other words, having set times for bed, for play and for homework help kids feel secure and therefore thrive.

  • Manage time in a child-friendly way. Arianna Jeret, a divorce mediator and coach in Redondo Beach, California (4) suggests keeping a calendar with mom's days in one color and dad's days in another color (color-coded shared calendars is one of our favorite capabilities of the Fayr app). Clear communication between co-parents keep everyone aware of the child's schedule and promotes feelings of predictability and safety in which resiliency thrives.

 

  1. J. B. Kelly, R. E. Emery, Family Relations 52, 352 (2003).

  2. S.M. Hopf, Risk and Resilience in Children Coping with Parental Divorce, Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (2010).

  3. E. M. Hetherington, A. M. Elmore, in Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities., S. S. Luthar, Ed. (Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, US, 2003), pp. 182-212.

  4. J. Moninger, Making a Child Comfortable in Two Homes, Parents.com (2013).