Re: Common mistakes after divorce.
I'm a stepmom and I've been involved with my stepkids since they were tiny (no, I was not the "other woman", their marriage just ended while the kids were tiny and I was unfortunate enough to meet the man of my dreams while he was in the middle of a messy divorce)
*Document everything. Stupid things you don't think will matter still need to be documented. Agree to something on the phone? Follow it up with an email and ask for confirmation that it is what you agreed. Crazy example: BM (biomom) said she didn't want to paint YSD's fingernails until she was 3 because she wouldn't sit still. We were going on a trip to Disney when she was 2 and one of the ways I was passing time in the car was painting the girls' toenails. They were buckled into the seats so sitting still wasn't an issue. BM threw a huge fit and then said it was because she didn't wnat her putting her hands in her mouth (which she didn't anyway) but DH had the original email about why she had said not to paint YSD's nails.
*They are going to do things differently than you and you are going to hate it but there is not much you can do to stop it and trying will just make things worse. We hate that the SDs eat tons of fast food and processed crap at BM's house. We tried to work with BM on it in the beginning. BM is going to do whatever she wants and it sucks
*Give as close to equal time as possible. Regardless of what was done (barring outright abuse) in the marriage both parents deserve to be predictable active participants in the raising of their children.
*Along the same lines. Skype or phone contact with both parents daily. It sucks for the parents but the children need to know that the other parent is just as available as the one they are with.
*Get support for you and your issues so they don't bleed into the kids' lives. The sooner the bitterness and spitefulness is eliminated the better for the kids. It sucks but putting on the happy face and doing what's best for the kids really makes a difference.
*Be prepared to be flexible or it will come back to bite you. This is a personal lesson from our side. We were real sticklers about sticking to the plan and schedule. It hurt us more than once because life is unpredictable, sometimes you need flexiblity.
*Acknowledge when things are working. It seems disgusting to stroke the ego of the ex at times but when you feel like things are going smoothly call it out and thank them for being willing to work with you. It goes a long way in paving the road to co-parenting
*It's okay to not agree and have different rules/expectations at your house than the other parent. Kids are resilient. They adapt really well to different enviroments. There might be some difficulty around transition times but in general they can handle it and it's a lot easier for them to be flexible than for you to get your ex to change.