Making The Most of Your Time With Your Child
As a separated father, you’ll find that suddenly you have a very limited amount of time with your children. Even if your work schedule only meant that you saw them for a limited time before you were separated, you could enjoy each other’s company in the evenings or do things on weekends.
Now you have to make the most of the time you have with your children. If that’s the traditional every other weekend and half the summer holidays, then you actually have a reasonable amount of time to do things. In a number of instances, though, contact can be a lot less, making it harder to Maintain A Strong Bond With Your Children.
Best Use of TimeThe thing to say is that there’s no single best use of the time you spend with your children. It’s all about what you and they want to do. However, it’s vital that you spend the time together. You should never allow pressure of work to force you to say that you can’t see them. That’s time you can never regain.
If your time with your children is very limited – say an hour or two a week – then you have a restricted choice in what you can do. It could be a quick meal or a little shopping. But make the most of it. You don’t have to shower your kids with gifts (indeed, if you do so regularly, it creates some false expectations from them). Simply being with them and being interested in their lives is usually enough.
When you’re with your kids, remember to Communicate With Them. Find out what’s going on in their lives, who their friends are, how they’re doing at school, how they’re progressing with their interests. Be supportive and offer advice and help where you can (a £3 monthly subscription to an online game, for example, can mean a lot more than an impulsive £40 gift). Talking keeps you close – make time for it when you’re together.
Enjoying ActivitiesIt’s easy to establish a cycle of doing things with your kids when you see them – a film, eating out. That’s fun, and perfectly appropriate once in a while (in the case of restricted contact, it might be all you can do). But ask your kids what they want to do. Don’t impose your tastes on them. At the end of a session with them, ask what they’d like to do next time.
If your child or children have specific interests, indulge them. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but regularly, as they might not have the chance otherwise. It also reminds your children that you remember things they love.
With permission from your ex, and if it falls within the legalities of contact, take your children on holiday for a week if you can. It gives you all time in a different place you can all enjoy together without any of the pressures of home.
Time At HomeHowever much fun it is to do things with your children, it’s also important to have quiet time with your kids. That can be an evening at your home with a pizza or a home-cooked meal, watching TV, a DVD or playing a board game. It brings an element of normality to the visit, and actually helps forge a closer bond between you and your children.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money and be constantly doing things for your children to keep loving you. All too often they’ll be happy enough simply to have time with you, whatever the situation – and if it’s somewhere they can relax, so much the better.Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.