The kids are so excited! School’s out! Summer Vacation!
But for single parents or divorced parents who share custody, just the thought of Summer might be enough to bring on a case of hives.
With summer comes a change of normal routine visitation schedules. Depending on the Court’s orders for custody after a divorce, a parent will have more time during the week with the kids, since they won’t have school. Perhaps a parent will have their children for a large block of time instead of just 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends. You love them, but trying to keep them busy, content and out of trouble is a challenge.
• Manage expectations – Going to Disney World or the beach may sound great, but maybe a trip like that isn’t realistic in some circumstances. Talk to your kids and let them know you want the summer to be fun for them and you’re happy to have them with you. Tell them up front what options you think might be realistic and get their ideas. Then decide as a family which activities to explore. Compromise is the key! (See the link at the bottom for activity ideas)
• Give them something VALUABLE! Your TIME! Especially if your family has recently gone through a divorce, your children need reassurance that they were not the problem and that you still love them. The best way to show them that is to give them yourself. If you can’t afford to take a lot of time off from your job, explain that to them. When you ARE with them, put away the cell phone and turn off the TV. Slow down and take a few extra minutes to listen to them and give them your undivided attention.
• Take a deep breath once in a while and SMILE! Everyone will benefit from you enjoying yourself, too. No matter how stressful your job or your life, take time to enjoy the little things in life. Your children will benefit from seeing that you can separate yourself from problems long enough to laugh and enjoy being with them. If you’re grumpy all the time or short with them, they may think it’s because you don’t want them around. If you’re stressed and seem to be drowning in day to day responsibilities, it is also stressful for your kids. When children see our problems (and they SEE everything!) they feel responsible and yet, because they are children, they have to no power to change the situation. That, in turn, makes them anxious and uncomfortable. Give them the good example that it’s possible to balance your life and responsibilities and everyone benefits!
• Communicate with the other parent. Sometimes it’s hard, but everyone needs to stay focused on what’s best for the kids. Ask what the other parent’s plans are for the summer with the kids. Try to work together towards making it a good summer for your kids. Remember that it’s not a competition and there are more important things at stake than petty grievances or rehashing old arguments.
• KEEP your promises. Life happens. Deadlines pop up. Crises happen at work. And your children are watching it all. Especially for a parent who isn’t around their children every day, that may be hard to get used to. Children don’t have the experience or external awareness to understand that sometimes adults can’t do what they promise. What they see is that perhaps you don’t love them enough or care enough to keep your promises. So, don’t make promises lightly to appease them or get through a tough spot. And when you do make a promise, do everything you can to keep it. If you don’t make a habit of breaking your promises, on the rare occasion when you have to back out of a something, children are much more likely to a believe you and accept it.
Our children are the best part of us. They are children for a relatively short amount of time and the memories you make with them will last throughout their lives. Before you know it, you’ll look up and wonder where the years went! Enjoy them while you can.
For some local fun ideas in Dallas/Fort Worth area go to http://www.dfwchild.com/showcalendar.asp