Our world has become incredibly busy. Parents are trying to juggle work, raising families, getting kids to and from after school activities and trying to have some sort of a routine. Then, if you throw a pending or recent divorce into the mix, the hectic lifestyle can create even more of an imbalance. We all struggle to find enough time to spend with our kids. We know how important it is and worry about trying to fit it all in. In fact, research shows that children whose parents spend less time with them, have a higher tendency to have behavioral problems, lower grades, and are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
So how do we find time in our busy schedules to spend more time with our children when we barely have enough time for ourselves? The first tip is to do your best not to overschedule the kids in activities. It’s our instinct as parents to want what’s best for our children and when we see that all the other kids are booked in multiple sports activities, academic preparedness classes and play dates, it’s natural to want to keep up. However, letting your more rational head prevail will keep you and the family sane! Creating too busy of a schedule can actually hurt them by creating stress and anxiety. Instead pick one or two things a week to focus on. For example, a ballet class and an art class and leave the rest of the time open so they can just unwind, play creatively by themselves or so you can actually have one-on-one time with them.
Second, plan a schedule ahead of time. Children thrive with structure so put up a monthly calendar where everyone can see. Writing everything down will give you a reality check about whether you’ve planned too much and give you enough time to cancel things. It will also give them an idea of what to expect and a voice as to whether they really want to do all those things.
Lastly, listen to your kids! It’s more important to spend time doing things with them that they actually want to do, then to force things they aren’t interested in. Yes, sometimes we want to get them out of their comfort zone, but doing things like bike riding or building a sand castle instead of going to a big birthday party for someone they barely know will ultimately benefit your relationship and deepen your ties.
Spending more time with your kids becomes even more important during times of turmoil like during a separation or divorce. Most judges will order divorcing parents to take co-parenting classes as part of the legalities of the settlement. This can sometimes cause more stress because of the difficulty of taking time away from the kids and finding childcare. A resource that more and more divorcing parents across the country have been utilizing is online parenting classes. Ask your judge if it’s okay to take this co-parenting requirement from home so it doesn’t create a hardship. We have found that in most instances, the legal system has been agreeable to this format of learning.
Online co-parenting classes are available to take from any Internet based computer device and offer the same information, if not more, than an in-person class. While you may have been parenting for years and feel like there’s nothing else to know, co-parenting classes are meant to teach new skills for setting up two stable, separate households. Look for one that is designed to be court approved, is created by a Family Therapist and expert in the field and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The flexibility of fulfilling this legal requirement online will allow you to stay home with the kids while you are learning, save money and lower your stress level along the way!