Parenting is hard. When you are no longer with the other parent, things are much more complicated. Only getting the kids every other weekend is hard to adjust to. Especially if it wasn't your preference. In the meantime, here are some tips to make the transition go a little smoother for you and your children.
First and foremost, understand that you are not alone in this. There are tons of support groups. If you ever feel that you or your children are having a hard time adjusting to the every other weekend routine, then do seek support. If this is a custody issue and know you and your child deserve more parenting time, contact my team today.
In the meantime, try these steps:
1. Create a Routine
This way, everyone knows what to expect and when. Adapting to a new home and leaving when the visit is over can go over smooth when all involved are aware. Your children will know what to expect when they come to your house, which will help alleviate any anxieties.
2. Be Flexible
This goes without saying with kids. Unexpected things always happen and if you are getting stressed out about it, your children will pick up on that. If that is the case, no one will enjoy the visit. No matter what happens, even if it means your weekend is spent with a sick child, we don't get to pick and choose these things. Just roll with the punches and deal with what happens as it happens. Make a relaxing movie night experience for your sick child. Little kids and teens enjoy this. Make chicken noodle soup with funny noodle shapes for the little ones.
3. Keep it Casual
There's no need for a special homecoming every other weekend. While you're surely excited to spend time with the kids, it doesn't need to be a party either. This is especially important when you have other children in the home. You don't want anyone feeling that someone is more important to you. You can make it special for everyone. Maybe make Friday night pizza night or Saturday mornings at the park. It will give your every other weekend children something to look forward to when they come to your house. The other kids won't feel like it only happens because these extra kids show up every other weekend - it will just be a part of their weekly routine.
4. Plan Special Time Together
If you have more than one child from a previous relationship, find time to spend alone with each one. It will be more important than ever to cram as much bonding time in as you can. You are making up for two weeks apart.
5. Keep Your Life Your Own
You shouldn't be turning down social engagements now that you're divorced. That's not going to help your children. They might begin to feel that you resent spending time with them if you do turn down invites. You may be thinking, "This is my time with my children and I don't see them all week long or for two weeks at a time." If it makes you feel better, set something up for after bedtime and have a sitter stay with them. A day out with Grandma is always fun! Your family is going to want to spend time with your children, too, and they should. So let them, and take time to yourself.
6. Be Proactive During the Week
During the weekdays when you maybe have little or no parenting time, focus on being proactive. Prioritize self-care, doing things for you, being healthy, etc. Being healthy also includes focusing on a healthy mindset. If you are dealing with a custody issue, spend time preparing properly. Investing in support and tools to help you navigate this very challenging dynamic. Despite being stressed about custody or co-parenting, prepare yourself for when you do see your child next so you are the soft, loving place to land.
Divorce is stressful on all involved. But following these steps can help visitations a little more level when you're not the custodial parent. Remember to always be respectful of your children's other parent as well, even if you may be in a custody battle with the other.
No matter what your feelings are for your children's mother/father, this is their other parent and your children love him/her. Always be mindful of that and give the other person a little respect. It will make these visitation hand offs much more pleasant if you're pleasant.