My Sticker Calendar helps separated families keep track of shared time

My Sticker Calendar
“My Sticker Calendar: A Kid’s Guide to Shared Family Time” calendar art courtesy of the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Any parent who has shared child custody will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is keeping track of shared time. Cody Nelson, of Phoenix, shares parenting time and admits, “The hardest part is having two people able to communicate.”

The Arizona Department of Economic Security’s (DES) Child Support Services is hoping to simplify that communication in a fun, positive way with “My Sticker Calendar: A Kid’s Guide To Shared Family Time.”

Jillian Seamans, outreach unit supervisor for Child Support Services, says a committee formed by DES last year looked at solutions to help families and decided to borrow the idea from Texas, where the calendars are currently in use. The Arizona version—in both Spanish and English—became available in September 2015.

Each calendar comes with stickers that track day-to-day comings and goings for children. They include stickers for where children will be spending the night (mom’s or dad’s house), who will be picking them up from school, doctor and dentist appointments, swim lessons and other sports, as well as park play dates and parent-teacher conferences.

Specific to Arizona, there are stickers for a visit to Valley water parks and even the annual Ostrich Festival in Chandler.

“We found that the calendar really helps to give children a sense of order,” says Seaman. “It’s a great way to encourage parents to work together and involve their children. It also gives children a sense of control” because the children can place the sticker on the calendars themselves. “It’s a really good opportunity for them to know what’s coming up.”

Nelson, whose 4-year-old son Xavian visits him on weekends, says he thinks the calendar is a great way to give his son something to look forward to: “It would get him excited and he would be able to see ‘two more days until I go to dad’s house.’ I think that would be a positive influence.”

Child Support Services does not enforce parenting time (formerly referred to as “visitation”) and legal decision making (formerly “custody”), but those areas are typically the most difficult for many clients to negotiate. The goal of the calendars is to help give children a sense that “my parents are working together to support me.”

For a free My Sticker Calendar, visit any DES office statewide or contact Seamans at jseamans@azdes.com.

Find helpful advice for parents sharing custody of children on the DES parenting time and legal decision making webpage.