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Custody conundrum: Who gets the kids when both parents work?

You and your ex-spouse have always been good about putting your children first, but you've reached a point that has made custody difficult. You trust each other, but both of you have people in the other person's family whom you don't trust. You want your children to stay with those you love and trust, not with people you fear will give them the wrong ideas or harm them in some way.

Since you and your ex-spouse ended up on the same work schedules, the problems became very significant in your life. You don't like the idea of day cares or afterschool programs where your children are with strangers for hours a day, but neither of you have anyone in the family you can both agree on as a babysitter.

What should you do when neither parent is available to watch their children?

Now is a good time to consider mutual friends and professionals. There are a variety of third-party options that help working parents focus on their jobs and know that their children are in good hands.

One option is to hire a nanny together. A nanny, a professional caretaker, may live with you and the other parent on and off, going where the children go. They take over the parental role when you and the other parent can't be there. They may even do simple housework and chores, helping you enjoy your time with your children when you are home. If you or your spouse are gone for long periods of time during the day, then a nanny could be a good option.

Another option is a vetted babysitter. You can each hire your own, but you should verify a background check and get the other parent to approve your choice. Babysitters normally work only a few hours a day, and they rarely live with the children.

Finally, if you have a mutual friend, consider asking for help. You both trust this person, so even if they can't take over that parental role for you, they may have a good idea about someone who could. Having a third party choose a babysitter or professional for childcare could give you peace of mind and help both parents agree on someone together.

It isn't always easy to work out a custody plan for your children when you both work, but there are options. Look into local babysitters and nannies until your child reaches an age where they don't require care when you aren't home.

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