ExWife and Sig Other don’t communicate so well. This may, in fact, be one reason they are no longer married. There is something about the chemistry in the air that floats between them that makes each combustible when in close proximity to the other. Strident and shrill are the words I would use if asked to describe the bulk of their interaction. They go zero to sixty faster than any Grand Prix racecar.
Enter Google Calendar, the panacea of divorced households, the whiteboard of peace and a true godsend for busy multi-home families where communication is challenged at best. Because it isn’t just ExWife and Sig Other in this world – there are children that need to be shuttled around, schedules to be made, arrangements to be dealt with.
There wasn’t always a schedule. When the kids were really little, there was a loosey goosey kind of free-floating vibe with regard to custody. The children slept where they felt most comfortable (ExWife’s house) and Sig Other had free access whenever he could see them – an open door policy that allowed nightly tuck-ins and help with homework. This seemed to work fine for Sig Other, Ex Wife and the children. It drove me bananas – I like a schedule. I like things to be tidy and organized and thought out. Spontaneity is not one of my strong suits. I like a plan. And as the children grew, it proved that they did too. Children like a schedule. They may say they enjoy the free-floating devil may care arrangements we lived under in those first few years. But the truth is it created anxiety. For them. And for us.
And so a schedule was born - one schedule that applied to both children and we stuck to it as best we could. But then Child One started to grow up. And with age came friends, and more homework, and more extracurricular activities, and more bags to schlep. And with all of that came a reticence to go back and forth from one house to another. And so we decided – we all decided – that her schedule would shift – that she would divide her time equally between the households and would have some version of one week in each home.
But schedules are tricky in the real world. Sig Other travels and Child One ends up back at ExWife’s house. Or I travel and Sig Other asks Child One to stay with him so he won’t be alone. Or Child One just gets overwhelmed or tired or busy and doesn’t want to switch and so ends up staying in one place or another longer than the suggested week. And that’s when emotions start to swing, that’s when voices start to rise and tempers get hot. And that’s when I get stuck in the middle. Because I see both sides really – or in this case, all three. I get why ExWife is upset if Child One spends what seems like more time with us. I get why Sig Other feels that after all the years of imbalance, its time for both children to divide their time more equally. And I get why neither child wants to be torn between squabbling parents
So where does that leave all of us? With Google calendar of course. Check it out. Because this, hopefully, will be our saviour. I am now in charge of the family calendar – an application we can all access to add, delete or examine any and all activities in the lives of the children and each other. And so far, its working. As summer starts, as schedules get busier, I hope I remember to record and erase with each shift and plan but at least this is a start. Any other brilliant ideas?