Creating Boundaries During Visitation: OUR TOP 5 TIPS

One of the hardest things about letting her live with her other family is the lack of influence I feel that I have on her life.

She is learning, growing, developing habits, and cultivating her unique personality without me.

She lives with a different set of rules and standards at their house and we don’t co-parent very well on a lot of those issues. (We honestly don’t co-parent very well at all.)

She is learning to make decisions that will impact her life and I want to be there to help guide her.

It’s hard to reinforce positive behaviors when I only have her for such a short amount of time.

When we are together, I notice so many little reminders that she’s not all mine. What she chooses to wear, the music she likes to listen to, the coffee she wants to drink… I have such a hard time allowing her to express her personality within temporary boundaries that don’t exist when I’m gone.

But I’ve learned the importance of consistent behavior and I wanted to share how we make it work!

Here are our Top 5 Tips for Creating Boundaries During Visitation:

1. Set non-negotiable expectations: establish a set of rules and consequences/rewards for their actions.

2. Choose your battles wisely and don’t sweat the small stuff: allow them to have enough freedom to make their own decisions on small matters. Let them gain your trust and gradually give them more responsibility.

3. Remember that children are impressionable so lead by example: make sure to be the parent you want them to look up to!

4. Explain why the rule is important: all of our choices have consequences and they will learn much quicker when they understand the reason each rule exists.

5. Enforce their positive and negative behavior consistently: when children know what to expect, they are much more likely to comply with an expectation willingly. Set that standard and stick to it!

the good with the bad

I’ve been looking forward to this trip with Elle Kade for such a long time! I knew that she would only be able to stay with me for 3 days before going back to school but that I would do my best to maximize our time and make the most of such a short visit. We made a list of everything she wanted to do and spent the entire time checking things off! 

We had ice cream for breakfast and painted pottery at a studio in Hyde Park


We went roller skating and bought a new doll from the toy store


We spent hours playing at the beach


We went to the salon and got manicures and pedicures then had lunch at our favorite hibachi restaurant


We were intentional with our time and made the most of every moment!

Which made it so much harder to say goodbye last night. 

I had to drive 2 hours to drop her off and when we got in the car, she laid her head on my arm and said “why do we always have to say goodbye” … my heart shattered. She started to cry and I had to hold back tears because we both knew that this would be the last time we would spend together this trip. 


And then waking up this morning and realizing she was gone… that is always the hardest part. The very next day when her dirty clothes are still on the floor and her toothbrush is on the sink, the little traces of her linger but she is so far away. 

I can’t say that I always focus on the good, because in moments like this, how can I? This weekend was amazing, and we created so many special memories… but it always has to end. We always have to say goodbye and that will never change. 

But all it takes is for me to pause and allow myself the grace to feel true sadness, take a deep breath, and shift my mindset to remember that the good always outweighs the bad. The happiness is always greater than the sorrow, and every moment I spend with her is worth the days and weeks without. 

Isn’t that what life is all about- Having faith that there is always sunshine after rain. There is will always be a Hello after a Goodbye. 

We would never fully comprehend true happiness if we didn’t first experience challenges, failures, and loss. 

The most incredible triumph comes from choosing joy through our trials regardless of our situation. 

The hardest decision


When Matt and I met, I was a single mom working full time and living in my grandparents basement in Utah. I had been legally separated from Elle Kade’s dad for a year and was just beginning the court process to finalize my divorce and determine a custody arrangement. 
After months of court hearings and failed mediation, we finally reached a compromise. Elle Kade would live with me full time and visitation would be every 3rd week until she began kindergarten and it would change to every other weekend and all summer. We included revisions to provide for the fact that we would be moving to Utah after Matt graduated from law school. 


Everything went as planned and Matt accepted a job in Utah. We were prepared to pay for plane tickets every month and fly her out based on the visitation agreement of one weekend of their choosing per month (which would include all holidays) and then all summer. It seemed so simple on paper. 

I had no idea how difficult it would really be. There was enough ambiguity in the paperwork to cause contention with every single visitation. We assumed that she would be allowed to fly alone based on universal flight policy, but her dad refused to let her. So I was forced to fly back and forth with her every single month, usually over a holiday weekend, leaving my 2 babes and husband home alone. Not to mention the added expense in which the plane tickets alone cost over $1000 monthly. 

On top of the inconvenience and expense, Elle Kade would miss school because of the fact that they strictly enforced the fact that she needed to be at their house by 6 pm on Friday- it was physically impossible to fly across the country after school to arrive in South Carolina by the time their visitation started so she was missing school in order for her to be there on time. Not to mention the fact that she had to fly back on Sunday night and adjust to a time difference before school the next day. 


The entire situation was unsustainable. I was overwhelmed and completely stressed out. We scheduled a phone conference with our attorney to go back to court and address the issues we were having. I knew it was necessary but I dreaded beginning the whole court process over again. 

I remember getting off the phone with our attorney and just crying. Matt and I had been praying for an answer and it just didn’t feel right. I told Matt that I felt really strongly that maybe the best thing would be to allow her to live with them for a while. That’s exactly what they wanted and she had been asking to live there as well. I couldn’t imagine actually making that decision, but it seemed like the only possible solution. 

Making the phone call to her stepmom to say that we had been considering the possibility of her living with them was the hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make. It was the one thing I said I would never ever do. 

Even though I had an incredibly strong prompting and deep feeling within my heart that I was making the right decision, it was so hard. My faith has always sustained me during times of doubt, but it was so incredibly difficult to ignore what the logical solution would be and follow the answer to my prayer.  But just because that answer wasn’t what I expected or wanted to hear doesn’t give me the right to deny it. And just because my prayer was answered doesn’t meant that all of my problems were solved.


One thing that I’ve intentionally changed is my perspective and how I communicate with Elle Kade. Instead of referring to who she “lives with” we talk about who she spends the school year with and who she spends the summer and breaks with. Just making that small change has reinforced the fact that she is so loved and our custody arrangement is as close to even as it will ever be. Our situation isn’t perfect but as long as Elle Kade is healthy, happy, and well adjusted then that’s enough for me ❤️