One of the most emotionally challenging parts of a divorce is how it affects the time you get with your kids. They still have school, sports, extracurriculars, friends and appointments pulling at their time – that hasn’t changed. But on top of all that, you now have to adapt to the reality of the family being split across two homes.
Feeling like you aren’t getting enough time with your children is a common sentiment. Pew Research found nearly two-thirds of dads and just over one-third of moms think they’re spending “too little” time with their kids.
More than half say work is the biggest obstacle, though the children being busy with activities, or one parent living apart from their kids, are also among the given reasons. When adjusting to this new normal after a divorce, it’s important to find ways to make the most of whatever time you do get together. Here are a few suggestions.
Limit screen time
Whether it’s a tablet, phone or the TV, screens can quickly start to dominate our time. Especially if we’re not paying attention. When the children are over, have a consistent window during which no screens are allowed – and that includes you.
Put the devices away somewhere, turn the TV off, and do something together. Even if it’s just chatting on the porch on a warm evening or learning a new board game together, it will feel better than staring at a screen.
Change your routine
Routines can be helpful for getting through the day, but you can also miss opportunities to make changes that benefit your relationship with your children. Maybe you can take a shorter lunch break at work and get home 15 minutes earlier than normal.
Those types of small tweaks can give you some extra time to check in with the kids.
Find ways to connect even while apart
This one comes from a list provided by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Among the tips: Find time to “connect” with them every day.
What that means can vary. It could be a short conversation while at home together, but there are other ways to connect even when you’re apart. The group suggests leaving a note in your child’s lunchbox, for example. You might also consider letting them choose what to have for dinner one night a week, or prepare a mini scavenger hunt for them to do at home.
There are many ways to maximize the time you have with your children. The one thing they all have in common, however, is they require a little bit of effort to get started. Making these changes may seem hard at first, especially if you already feel crunched for time, but it will be worth it.
Most importantly, your children will appreciate it.