Divorce means many different things, but one thing it definitely means is that you will not have as much time with your children as before. This is a reality; parents who recognize this early will learn to make the most of their parenting time.
There is good news for those parents worrying about how much time they spend with their kids: quality time matters. A 2015 study found that what you do with your parenting time makes a bigger impact than how much time you spend. So, whether you are the parent your children live with or not, you should focus your efforts on making that time special.
But how do you make time “special?”
What exactly does “quality time” even look like? Dinners? Conversations? As a parent, you’ve had countless meals with your kids; conversations, too. So how do you spend time better? That depends. What do you think about:
- Board games? Do you love to play a simple — or an insanely complex — game? Do you find the give and take between rules and conversation to be fun and illuminating? Try to share this passion with your kids, and they may come to be the best game night addition you could imagine.
- Screen time? Lots of parents fret about screen time for younger kids and teenagers, but on rainy, boring days, kids are a lot like you. Watch a movie. Binge a TV show. If you take the time to talk about what you watch or play, rather than just consume it, even an episode of Cheers can be a lasting family memory.
- Road trips? Forget about the Vacation films for a moment; forget about screen time. Think back to the longest trip you’ve ever been on. That was a memory. Old car games or radio searches or just meandering conversations are a great way to connect.
There isn’t really a cheat or a shortcut to making time matter with your kids. The research shows that care and warmth are what make the difference.
Make your presence felt
Building a relationship with your children is about meeting them as people. When a young child or adolescent feels heard, they then want to hear you. You cannot control the sort of person your child will be, but you can appreciate who they are. And, if you do, they’ll always appreciate you.