Regarding parenting plans, children benefit when you communicate and coordinate with your coParent on the day-to-day through transition updates.

Typically accomplished through email (or voicemail), the parent going off duty provides information to the parent coming on duty, covering topics such as:

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  • health changes (physical and emotional)
  • appointments needed or scheduled
  • school/day-care issues/information
  • significant family events affecting children
  • changes or concerns regarding peer relationships
  • changes in activities of daily living (ADL’s: sleep patterns, eating etc.)
  • anything additional that is relevant for smooth, integrated transitioning for the parent coming on duty to care for the children

If there’s nothing in particular to report, simply send an email: “Smooth few days; nothing in particular to report – all good.” To aid your coParent in identifying this information easily, consider a subject line such as: “Transition Update.” Let’s look at an example from Kathy to Roger:

Subject Line: Sunday 9/8 Transition Report 

Hey, Roger,
Health: I gave Chelsea Tylenol every 4 hours or so this weekend after having her braces adjusted on Friday. Last dose was at 9 this morning. She seems over it and doing fine now.

Appts: I scheduled her next ortho appt on my time—no worries—in two weeks (Friday 9/19 at 7:30 a.m.); you’re welcome to join us if you’d like.

School: Max has school pictures on Tuesday—just a reminder— the information is in his backpack; he’ll need a separate check from you. I ordered the “B” grouping; my check’s in the envelope—so I’m covered.

ADLs: Both kids seem to be doing OK with getting up earlier with alarms. Hard to let go of summer sleep-ins.

Lastly, Chelsea came home from hanging with Mikaela, and they’ve both decided to become vegans—good luck with that!

I’ll see the kids Wed after school. Thanks. Kathy

In some families, the transition update may need to be expanded. For example, children with learning differences may need more focus on transitioning homework from household to household. Similarly, a child with a medical condition requires coParents to communicate effectively on the parameters of health maintenance/medication management needed.

Once you begin to implement the “general template” for transition updates, you will become skillful at tailoring transition reports to successfully meet the needs of your family.


About Karen Bonnell

Karen has over 25 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families facing transition, loss, stress and change. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Karen has been Board certified and licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner since 1982. She served on the faculty of University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University & Seattle Pacific University before beginning full-time private practice in 1984. She continues to be a provider of Professional Continuing Education to both health care and legal professionals.

Karen served on the Board of King County Collaborative Law and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and Academy of Professional Family Mediators.

Her work is found through Unhooked Books: