As a New Jersey Divorce Attorney, I have watched many newly divorced parents who are nervous about what to do with the kids, “on their time.” Do not fret, as this is completely normal. As an intact family, the other spouse was (hopefully) always there to help with one child while you were assisting the other. Now, it is all on you. Furthermore, especially when the children are younger, suddenly parents are not quite sure how to keep the kids busy and entertained on “their” weekends. While my experience as a New Jersey Family Lawyer dictates that even the best of parents struggle during the early stages of this new way of life for you and your children. Let’s explore.
If you are the non-custodial parent, figuring out what to do with your children when your have them can be a difficult task. Since you do not see them as often anymore, you want to make the most of your time together with them. While it is important to have fun with your children, it is also vital to be cognizant that you are not overstepping any boundaries or trying too hard with the children to make the custodial parent look bad. That is why I recommend doing fun family activities that are not over the top, especially now that spring has arrived. The following are just a few suggestions of activities you can engage in with your children in the nice weather without seeming like you are trying to out do the other parent.
Spend the Day at Your Local Park
Once the weather gets nice, going outside is definitely a child’s favorite thing to do. Most kids can’t wait until spring- time so that they can play on playgrounds, ride their bikes, play sports, or even just take nice walks with their dogs. If you live in the suburbs, I recommend taking your children to a park when you have them. It is a great environment for your kids to run around, let loose, and have fun with you. Especially if your children are still young, playing their favorite games with them like tag are great simple ways to spend time together. It is important to do things that your children enjoy with them, not force them to do what they really don’t want to do. This is true because, keep in mind, they are going through the divorce process too and should be uplifted, not dragged down.
Make Helping Around the House Fun
As a non-custodial parent, I can understand feeling guilty when you have to tell your kids to do their homework or help with cleaning the table after dinner. You feel as though you don’t spend enough time with them as is, so why ruin their time with you by making them do things they don’t want to. However, if you don’t let your children continue to participate in household chores, they might become more biased toward you and alienate the other “mean” parent.
With that said, try to make chores fun. Children love playing games so if you make cleaning their rooms a game, or reward them for doing their homework, they’ll be happier doing those routine things.
Finally, I always have found that kids LOVE cooking with mommy or daddy.
Make a Garden Outside
Everyone living in Jersey knows that our state is best known for its fresh fruits and veggies in the springtime, especially those jersey tomatoes. A great idea is to create a garden outside with your children. It will give them responsibility and encourage them to take care of something every week when they are with you. Let them pick out the kinds of fruits and veggies they want to grow in their garden and help them plant and water each week.
Join a Local Swim Club
Another thing that kids love to do when the weather gets warm to is swim. If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, join a swim club to take them to on the weekends. It will allow you to help teach your children to swim or to just have some fun in the water.
With time and thought, co-parenting after a New Jersey divorce gets easier with time and your children will have wonderful memories of “growing up.” Thank you.