Co-parenting is difficult in the best of times. It is difficult to deal with the other parent and field questions from the kids on why you cannot get back together. It is difficult to adjust to a schedule where the kids are with one parent some of the time and with the other parent the rest of the time. It's hard to plan holidays and vacations. For me, it is especially difficult because of the terms of my divorce agreement. I agreed to nights and weekends during the summer because my schedule is more flexible than his. While he has to be at work during the day from 8 to 5 every week day and gets the weekends off, I can work nights and weekends. So we came up with something that saved us the cost of daycare (expensive for three kids) and I work nights while he watches them and I watch them while he is working during the day. This compromise sort of works out, except for the fact that if I do not work weekends (because of the time we close) I would not have very many hours. Here's how it works:
We close between 9:30 and 10:00 every night but sometimes as early as 9:15. He gets off work at 5, so after dropping off the kids, I can be to work to start my shift by 5:15 at the earliest. Now supposing it's a really slow night and we close at 9:15, that gives me 4 hours. That's half of a regular 8 hour day. So even though we're open a little later on Fri, (think between 10:15 and 11:00) the most I could get out of working those five nights is 23 and a quarter hours. That isn't much. So I make up the lost hours by working 8 hour shifts on both of the days of the weekend. I go in at 2 on Saturday, then open Sunday morning and work until 2. This gives me between 15.5 and 16.5 hours depending on what time we close Saturday. So add that to the 23 and I've got about 36-38 hours from working all seven days. Thing about it is, having the girls during the day and working at night is exhausting, especially when I don't get a single day off. Also my food bills are higher during the summer when I have to feed the girls all day while they're here seven days a week.
Still, this is better than working that many hours to pay half of it to daycare.
This year, I suggested that our oldest girl (13) might be old enough to watch her sisters for one hour until he got off work, so I could go in at 4 instead and get at least one day off a week. Then he comes back with expecting me to take every other weekend off work (32 hours a month, minimum) like it's no big deal. I can't go in at 5:15 during the week and take every other weekend a month off. Not unless I got a second job working the graveyard at some 24 hour place to make up for the loss of income. The reason he wants me to take every other weekend a month off? So he can do stuff on the weekend that he can't do when he has the girls. Like, every weekend I have without the girls is spent at work. I had one free day (no work, no school, no girls) in the last six months.
Next year, when oldest is 14, I can have her babysit for long stretches of time since she'll be legally old enough to work. Also middle child will turn 12 that year so hopefully they'll all be a little more responsible. I guess I just have to put up with one more year of this.