For any divorced parent, or a parent going through a divorce, the Holiday season is probably the most challenging time to go through than any other time of the year. Usually called the most wonderful time of year, the holiday season carries a lot of sentimental emotions. So, whether you are the majority or non-majority time-sharing parent, going through the Holidays with your children part-time can be emotionally overwhelming. Every child has the right to spend substantial and quality time with both parents, so the time-sharing schedule agreed to has to be followed. That being said, make sure you discuss with your former spouse a smooth transition plan from one home to the other one by keeping a consistent set of rules and discipline. That way, your children will feel safe and comfortable in both places.
In some cases, the couple’s children spend equal time with each parent. These parents know their children pretty well and have a routine in place that may be a bit different in each household. Still, they have a system that works well for the split family.
But other cases may have a majority and a non-majority time-sharing schedule where the children spend most of the time with the majority time-sharing parent and some lesser time with the non-majority time-sharing parent. In these types of cases, the majority time-sharing parent not only knows their children’s daily habits and routines pretty well but also knows their favorite foods, clothing, sports, music type, etc. So, when it is the non-majority time-sharing parents’ time with their children, the first question on their mind is: what do I do during my time-sharing time?
First of all, do not overdo it. Do not fill up a day with so many activities that you all may end up exhausted and irritated. Your best option is “get to know our children.” No matter their age, try to engage with them. Find out what their favorite things to do, to eat, to watch, to listen, etc. is, and write it down if necessary. Avoid TVs and tablets as much as you can. Take the time to connect with them on a deeper level. Gain their trust and LISTEN to them, even if those things are trivial or boring to you. Remember, when your child wants to talk and share their thoughts with you, stop everything and listen to them. And never question your children’s loyalty.
When your children are at your place, try to develop routines to give them a sense of security. Make sure they have their “own space” in your home, even if they have to share a room so that they can develop a sense of belonging. Take them shopping for their favorite cereal, toothpaste, and any other items that they may need to keep at your house. When possible, try to include their grandparents and extended family; they can help you make your time-sharing time fun and motivating for your children. Introduce your children to your neighborhood’s kids so that they can have friends at your place, and occasionally let them bring friends along, when appropriate. But most importantly, spend individual time with each of your children.
Activities Ideas for Divorced Parents to Spend their Time with their Children
There are so many activities you can do. Some don’t even require spending money to have a good time together. For example:
- A bike ride,
- Go to a beach,
- Go fishing,
- Go hiking,
- Play or learn how to play an instrument,
- Visit the library or read a few books,
- Cook or bake your meals together – there is no need to go out all the time.
If you have little ones, these are some ideas for fun activities:
- Crayons and coloring books,
- A tea party with tiaras,
- Drawing with chalk around the driveway,
- Dress-up time is a lot of fun, get a couple of costumes or superheroes capes and masks, etc.
- Play ball in the backyard or nearby park – this way you both get a much needed exercise and as an added bonus your child will be tired at night.
Whatever you do with your children, make sure you keep age-appropriate sets of toys, crayons, coloring books, costumes, etc.
You may have a child that is worried about a flute recital because she/he is not doing very well and needs to practice. Use your time-sharing time to give them a hand with school projects, math, soccer practice, etc. Help your children improve their confidence in school.
Your older children may be interested in participating in a church or community activities. Take them to a church or your community and participate together. There is no better way to connect with your child than learning about their interests.
There are also other activities, depending on their age and your budget, that are fun to do. For example:
- Go to a zoo,
- Go to a museum,
- Go to the movies,
- Go bowling,
- Go skating,
- Game rooms,
- Indoor playgrounds,
- Amusement parks, etc. always entertaining, not only for the child but for the parent as well.
Just remember that even taking a nap together after watching a movie, while sipping on a cup of hot cocoa may be a great way to spend your time-sharing with your children. They will be happy as long as you are there with them. Most likely, your children will not remember the material things you give them. But, your time and your attention will have a significant impact on each one of your children and it will be a memory they will treasure for the rest of their lives.
The Holiday Season can be harsh when you are dealing with a divorce, especially if you have children. At Seff & Capizzi, we regularly assist clients with creating a time-sharing schedule that is in the best interest of your child, and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this situation in their own lives.
If you need assistance, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.