Having your child in your life is such a blessing. I couldn’t imagine my life without my daughter. Being able to celebrate your personal accomplishments with them just makes it that much more special. Especially when your purpose in life is to do everything you can do for your child. Having split custody makes these moments far and a few. Sure, I wish I had my daughter full time but I believe even in situations like this, a child needs both parents. The transition can be tough from household to household. Both working retail doesn’t make it any easier. Trying to balance self care, personal goals, co-parenting, fun activities and quality time is all about timing and setting priorities. How do you even begin to figure all this out.
Quality Time: When it’s your turn to have your child, there’s nothing more you want than to spend all the time you can with them because you know your time is limited. A few days can seem like seconds. There’s so much that can be done. So many things to teach. So many crafts to do. So many places to show her. So many hugs and kisses to give.
Then there’s work and school nights. Which means pick her up, sing Disney songs at the top of our lungs in the 40-minute commute to home, start dinner, help with homework (don’t burn dinner), get the showers out the way then get ready for story time before bed. By this time it’s after 10pm. Tell me what parent actually gets a decent amount of sleep. A single parent at that.
The most important thing to focus on are things that are in need to get done like homework, dinner and hygiene. Sometimes that’s the only time you’ll have during the week so make it fun and celebrate the accomplishments. The weekends give you more flexibility, if you don’t work of course. Play outside, make it a movie night, eat at some of your favorite food spots, go on ice cream dates or even just tell them how much they mean to you. Make use of every minute because it may be another few days before you get to do it all over again.
Self-Care: With all the craziness, taking care of yourself is really important. You may not get a lot of sleep but there’s pockets you can take advantage of. Those days that your child transitions over to the other parent is crunch time. I don’t mean work until you’re exhausted. Actually the complete opposite. You may be able to find time to get to bed early and maybe even sleep in a bit before work. Hang out with some friends or go on that date. Take time to relax and enjoy yourself. Catch up on some of your favorite shows or new releases.
Bottom line, this is the chance to have some “Me-Time”. This is not only for your sanity and health but it will help you fill up the patience and passion tank to fire on all cylinders the next time you pick up your child.
Personal Goals: Whether you’re a single parent or have moved on in another serious relationship, you should have goals you want to accomplish. These can be as small as finding the time to write a blog about your experiences or exploring that new place you always wanted to check out. You may have bigger plans to start that career you worked hard for or to finally become a homeowner. Accomplishing these goals become so much more special with the involvement of your child. Sharing these moments have so much meaning and gives your child a sense of the passion and hard work it takes to reach your goals.
All this hard work is even harder while you’re still a parent. Your child is your priority and so is your future. They also work together so don’t think you have to leave your child behind while you work on you and don’t think you have to put your life on hold to care for your child. They both can be done.
Co-Parenting: This method of team-work is rare and can take a long time to be consistent. Sometimes it works when the child is completely independent or more than likely, a teenager. This is because you have to deal with the other parent less frequently. None the less, some type of communication is needed and all for the child’s best interest. Having both mom and dad in the picture at the same time may be impossible but having them both be a part of the child’s life is necessary. You should want your child to spend time with the other parent as much as you want them to spend time with you. When your child talks about the good time they had with the other parent or what new thing they tried, you should be happy for your child and celebrate the fun and accomplishments.
This is not a competition. You may hear that your child saw that new Disney movie with dad that just came out. You shouldn’t feel like he’s taking those moments away from you. Don’t worry! Disney will be coming out with 7 more releases over the next two years so your chances are good. Maybe mom took the kids to their first live NBA basketball game. Dad, don’t stress. There’s 81 more games you can choose from. Not to mention there’s a ton more sport venues that you can experience with your little one. Then there’s always communicating ahead of time for when you would like to do what with them on which day. Just don’t be petty and plan the year and have 182 dates planned with your kid just because you’re afraid dad will do it first.
I have a blog on Co-Parenting that you can check out.
Fun: Probably the best one to always remember. You need to have fun in everything you do with your kids. School night? No problem. Have the kids help you with dinner. Turn homework into a game. Set timers for everything until bed time to have some challenging fun. Throw a pop quiz about something that happened earlier in the day. Read a favorite book at night or create your own adventure about you and your child. There’s so much more when time is on your side but just make sure you use every minute wisely.
Again, this is not about who is the fun parent. It’s about creating those long lasting memories that your child will look back at and realize that even when the parents are not together, your child has been able to spend some fun quality time at either household and feel that their involvement is important to you as it is for them.
Let’s do this for our kids!