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Parents   »   Everything you need to know about living schedules!

Everything you need to know about living schedules!

Whether you’re new to the varannan vecka-life or have been living it for a long time, we’ve gathered what you’ve always wanted to know about alternating living schedules. Because there’s a lot to consider when choosing a schedule for the child that also needs to fit parents’ work schedules and/or other family members.

How is alternating living defined?

The boundary between alternating living and visitation with a parent the child doesn’t live with is not entirely clear. In addition to the time the child spends with each parent, other factors also play a role, such as whether custody is joint, whether the parents share financial responsibility or not, and that the child has their belongings and clothes at both parents’ homes. Case law shows that a child who lived about 30 percent of the time with one parent was not considered to live alternately. The schedule examples below can, based on a time distribution, be considered alternating living in combination with other circumstances.

Schedule 1: classic every-other-week schedule, 7 + 7 days

This is a classic varannan vecka-schedule where the child lives seven days with one parent and then seven days with the other. Common days for changeovers are Mondays, Fridays, or Sundays.

The schedule has only one changeover per week, which minimizes the number of separations. The child has time to settle in at each parent’s home during the week, providing calm and predictability. If the changeover occurs on Sundays, Mondays, or Fridays, the schedule often fits well with vacations and major holidays.

For some children, seven days is too long to be away from a parent. The longing can be alleviated and prevented through dinner or a regular activity with the parent the child doesn’t live with every week. The child can also FaceTime with the other parent and listen to pre-recorded bedtime stories from the parent they’re not living with that week.

The schedule may be less suitable for younger children who need frequent physical contact with both parents to thrive. Alternatives that still involve alternating living can be a 2-2-3/3-4-4/2-2-5-5 schedule.

Schedule 2: 2 + 2 + 3-days, shorter intervals

With a 2-2-3 schedule, the child alternates spending two days at a time with the parents Monday through Thursday and every other weekend, Friday through Sunday (2 + 2 days, Mon – Thurs & Fri – Sun every other weekend).

The child has close and regular contact with both parents during the week. The child gets plenty of time with each parent during the weekends. The schedule often works well for younger children where a 7/7 split is too long to be away from a parent.

With many handovers during the week, there’s a risk of difficult separations, childcare challenges, and additional handovers of clothes and belongings, among other things. Some parents and sometimes even children find that the schedule can feel hectic and difficult to manage. Tip: check schedule 4: 2, 2, 5, 5.

Schedule 3: longer weekends, 2 + 2 + 5 + 5 days

The schedule is similar to schedule 2 above (2 + 2 + 3) and has the same advantages of regular contact during the weekdays and plenty of time with each parent every other weekend.

If the schedule starts at the beginning of the week, the child continues to stay with each parent on Monday and Tuesday after the weekend, which reduces transitions and can create more calmness for both children and adults. Another advantage is that the child has fixed days with each parent every week, which is practical for various activities. The difference is the alternation of weekends for the child.

Schedule 4: fixed days in the week 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 days

In this schedule, there are fixed days with each parent every week, except for one day that alternates between parents. If the schedule starts on a Monday, the child stays with one parent every weekend and the other parent during the weekdays. If the schedule starts on a Wednesday, the child shares the weekend with both parents on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The schedule provides predictability and may make it easier to agree on activities for the child as each parent can manage different activities on the child’s days with them. The schedule works well for parents who work on weekends when childcare is difficult to obtain, and therefore the child needs to be with their other parent.

It can be beneficial for the child to occasionally have time with both parents on the weekend to relax together and have shared rest from everyday life. Sharing both weekdays and weekends often provides a better overall experience for both children and parents. No parent needs to be the “fun weekend parent” or the “boring weekday parent”. However, what works best in each family is the most important factor.

Other alternatives

The suggestions below involve less than 50-50 time with both parents. As mentioned above, even schedules with less time with one parent can still constitute alternating living. Circumstances in each individual case are crucial in determining what constitutes alternating living or visitation.

Schedule 5: slightly shorter than fully alternating 6 + 8 days

The schedule most closely resembles a 7 + 7 schedule, meaning weekly living but with one day less with one parent and one more with the other. With the schedule starting on Monday, the child stays with one parent from Monday to Tuesday the following week and then from Tuesday to Sunday with the other parent.

The pros and cons are similar to those of a 7 + 7 living arrangement, see schedule 1. This schedule is sometimes included as part of a larger escalation. The purpose is to transition from shorter visitation to alternating living 7 + 7.

Schedule 6: slightly shorter than alternating, 5 + 9 days

The child stays with one parent from Monday to Wednesday the following week and then has visitation from Wednesday to Monday (five days) with the other parent. (If the schedule starts on a Monday).

The schedule suits children who prefer to live with both their parents but need more time with one parent or if there are other reasons for more time with one parent. This could include children with a disability who need recovery and rest and get more of it from one of the parents.

The 5 + 9 schedule, like the 6 + 8, is often part of a longer escalation towards alternating living 7 + 7 but can also be a completely independent agreement.

Elisabeth Scholander