Here are 5 ways to be a better parent after a divorce!
Whether it’s been a few months or a few years since you and your spouse made the choice for dissolution of marriage, maintaining a healthy relationship with your children post-divorce is probably on your mind. While it can be tough to stay active and involved if you're not seeing your children every day (or if you're suddenly spinning way more plates in the role of single parent), it is possible to create and cultivate meaningful, positive relationships after a dissolution of marriage, and these five tips can get you started.
1. Put in the time.
When it comes to kids, both quality time and the quantity of time are important. If you’re the non-custodial parent it’s still important to show up to your kids’ extra-curricular activities — bonus points for making practices and classes too — and stay in touch during the week on video chat, text or instant message to find out how school went and to connect about the daily details of #childhood. While how much time you get to spend with your children may not be under your control depending on your custody agreement and work schedule, the general rule is: the more time the better. That's something to keep in mind as you navigate through an amicable dissolution of marriage on It's Over Easy; the platform actually provides age-appropriate shared custody templates you can tweak to meet the needs of your family and children.
If your kids are school age or older, they probably spend a lot of time interacting with technology. Finding cool ways to do some things off line can be exciting for both of you. For example, there are still places you can get to where there is no Wi-Fi. Consider a hike or a bus ride to the countryside where the phrase “…I don’t get any reception” is actually true. Prep your child for this first so they know what’s coming (no connectivity) and you can even provide them with a low-tech device like a pad and paper to catalogue wildlife or the number of Prius cars they see on the road, and turn all of that into a game…whatever, the point is to engage your kid without technology—get it?
3. Make or just eat a meal together.
After the dissolution of marriage, we know making the time to sit down and eat a meal together as a busy, single parent with your children can be tough sometimes; however, studies show that eating together can help strengthen relationships and foster better communication. You can take this one step further by getting the kids in on the meal prep. This extends the time you're spending together, and kids are usually more likely to try a new food if they had a hand in the preparation. If you hate to cook, no worries. You can just as easily grab some takeout and make an inside picnic on the living floor, and you'll likely earn some extra cool points.
4. Institute a family game/movie night tradition.
This is usually easy to implement, even if you don't see your children often, because it can be something you do every week, every other weekend or even the first Friday night of every month. If you have more than one child, take turns on who gets to pick the game or movie, but implement some rules to keep everything age-appropriate.
5. Make room for their friends.
As your children get older, their friends can become more and more of a priority. Strong friendships are key to your child's success as he or she learns to depend less on parents and more on strong social support, and encouraging these friendships can be an easy way to connect with your child as well. You can make your house friend-friendly by keeping the fridge stocked with grab-and-go snacks and keeping some age-appropriate movies and console games around, but you'll also want to take the time to really get to know your children's friends and their parents. Knowing the parents of your children’s friends makes setting up play-dates and impromptu sleepovers easier.
While it's never too late to start building a better relationship with your children, if you or your spouse have recently decided on a dissolution of marriage, you can get things off on the right foot by taking the time to collaborate during the divorce process. It's Over Easy has templates you can use to start building a custody and visitation agreement that makes it easier for both parents to stay involved.