For years we have heard about the importance of spending “quality time” with our children. When you are divorced and following a custody schedule (sometimes called a parenting time schedule) you may feel you have to create special moments in every day you have your kids. Settinging the expectations of constant magical moments when your children are in your care is unrealistic. It is important to establish routines, new traditions, and allow your children to grow up in a supportive environment.
Children love routines. Make sure you run your home to ensure they can settle into a schedule as they arrive. This includes where they put their bookbag, what time dinner is served, and when they should make their lunch. The familiarity when they are with you will be a comfort to them and allow them to ease into your home when they spend time with you.
Traditions are important for children so bring forward into your post-divorce life a few from the past and also create some new special memories. This may include establishing Sunday dinner when everyone gathers to help cook, an annual ski trip, visiting the Shady Brook Farms light display, or watching Fourth of July fireworks together. These traditions do not need to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, sometimes the sillier and simpler the better remembered.
As your children age they will start to establish their own lives with friends, dating, and sports schedules. There will be times when you feel you barely see them as they have another game, a date, or want to sleep over at a friend’s house. This will take them away from you during “your parenting time” and you may feel it is unfair since you already have limited time with them. However, realizing that this is a natural part of growing up and not making them feel guilty is imperative to their emotional well-being. Support them and enjoy the time when they are with you. Establish those traditions, like family dinners that they will cherish and soon enough you will find that they are older and actually want to spend time with you again.
There are many adjustments when you divorce. Spending less time with your children is a hard one that takes some to settle into. However, if you are steadfast in providing a loving home and committed to making memories you will undoubtedly enjoy your time with your children and watching them grow.