With no school and later bedtimes, summer can feel like it adds “bonus minutes” to your parenting time. In contrast, the school year’s rigid schedule of homework, sports practice, and early wake up times can feel like it steals moments from your parenting time. But it doesn’t need to! To reclaim one-on-one time with your kids as the school year ramps up, try these five dad-friendly ways to maximize your parenting time.
Arrange an off-schedule pickup
If you can arrange it with your child’s other parent, consider picking your child up from school or from aftercare on a day that you normally do not spend time with them. You can stop for a quick bite or some ice cream on the way home. This affords you a little more time during the week to check in with your child, spend some quality time and remain connected once the school year begins. Of course, be sure that you are not keeping your child from necessary appointments or preventing them from completing their homework. Whatever you arrange, be sure it is not disruptive to their schedule and that it serves their best interests. That extra hour you spend can bring you and your child even closer together.
Keep a lookout for special activities
Just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean that fun activities end! Consider taking your child to a September baseball game one evening or look into fun fall activities such as pumpkin picking or festivals that celebrate autumn. Perhaps you have a special family reunion coming up that involves a weekend trip away. Research online to find special fall or winter activities that you can do with your child in your area. Coordinate with your ex and let them know that you are interested in taking your child to one of these special events, in addition to your regular parenting time. Of course, respectful when making your request; avoid being demanding or threatening.
Think about alternate methods of communication
Of course, nothing beats face-to-face time with your child, but sometimes that’s just not possible. As an option, think about different ways you can check in and communicate with your child. In our digital age, there are many different ways you can spend a few minutes talking with your child, such as through Facetime, Skype or even just through a quick phone call or text message. It means a lot to your child to get a message from dad; it lets them know that you are thinking about them, even when you cannot be physically together. If they are old enough, consider providing them with their own cellphone, so you can reach out whenever you wish, without having to go through your child’s other parent. You can also help them establish an email account or even a social media account like with Facebook, so you can keep in touch through those methods as well.
Arrange a special sleepover with friends
Talk with your ex about having an extra night over the weekend and plan a sleepover with your child and a few of his or her friends. You not only get to spend some extra time, you also are providing an exciting event where you child can socialize and interact with friends in your home. This is a great way to bond with your child as well as a wonderful way to get to know their friends and what the kids are interested in at the time. You can watch movies with some popcorn or you can plan a special activity such as a crafts party or make DIY tents for the kids.
Offer to take the kids to help your ex
Your child’s other parent may really need a break. Offering to take the kids for an extra night may afford her the ability to spend some time with friends, catch up on errands or simply sleep in! Those first weeks when the kids are back to school can be nothing short of chaotic, as everyone tries to adjust to new schedules, new teachers, new friends and a new routine. Taking the kids for an additional overnight or even another dinner during the week may just be welcomed by your ex with enthusiasm. And, if she is in need of a night out, she won’t need to make arrangements or pay for a babysitter.
Always keep in mind that your children do best when you are a constant presence in their lives and they thrive with continual contact with you. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself; kids need their dads just as much as they need their moms! In fact, experts and courts agree: children need both of their parents in their lives to the greatest extent possible.
If you have any further questions about parenting time or any other family law issue, contact us to schedule your initial confidential consultation with one of our experienced and trusted family law attorneys. Call today: 888-888-0919.