The upheaval and change that comes with divorce often make it difficult to find your bearings. Changes in schedules, living situations, and finances create uncertainty and stress as you try to navigate the end of a marriage. But what if you want to be an everyday divorced dad?
As difficult as it is for you, your kids have it just as bad. They also have to adjust to a new way of doing things. You may not see each other daily or even weekly. Divorce throws their lives into upheaval, too.
It’s important to let your kids know you’re still there and that you still love them. Unfortunately, this proves difficult in many cases. But there are things you can do.
Doing the following things every day helps create structure and consistency. This helps both you and your children as you get used to the new normal.
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Spend quality time with your child(ren)
Remaining an engaged, involved parent is critical during and after a divorce. Kids want to hang out with their dad. Setting aside time every day to spend with your kids has far-reaching benefits.
Actively find ways to engage with your kids on a daily basis. This provides emotional reassurance as well as structure. It also helps your case to remain an everyday divorced dad. Taking time for your kids allows you to continue playing a principal and indispensable role.
Daily quality time with your kids also has a secondary benefit. It demonstrates to the court the importance of your role as a father. This often has a substantial impact on the allocation of parenting time.
When evaluating a proposed parenting plan, the court tries to disrupt a child’s life a little as possible. Establishing a pattern of involvement not only shows your dedication as a parent, but also the depth of your relationship and that you’re an essential part of your child’s life.
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If You Can’t See Them Everyday
The logistics of spending time with your kids on a daily basis can be challenging. Especially if you have a contentious relationship with your ex. Getting creative works in your favor.
Even if circumstances don’t allow you to physically be in the same place, you have ways to stay connected.
Some resourceful solutions include:
- Virtual sports game: Schedule a time to Facetime, Skype, or Zoom and watch a football game or other event together.
- Play a game online: Does your child have a favorite game they play online? Even if you’re not a gamer, it might be time to look into leveling up.
- Phone call bedtime story: Buy two copies of your child’s favorite story and call them each night at bedtime to read the book together over the phone. Or you can simply read to them as they drift off.
- Virtual homework help: Using whatever technology works best for you, connect with your child each night to help with their homework.
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Find ways to manage stress
Even the most amicable divorce is bound to be stressful. Find constructive outlets for stress to maintain your sanity throughout the process.
Unexpected issues will arise and conflict with your ex can be common. Having a plan in place to deal with the detours can help you manage your ability to keep your goals and needs in focus. Getting caught up in the emotional hurricane hijacks your ability to protect what’s most important.
Additionally, having a plan to manage stress allows you to stay focused on adapting to co-parenting.
Having the tools to handle conflict and avoid volatile situations will help you and your kids. Sure, you’re stressed, but so are they. And they look to you as an example. If you stay calm and even-keeled, they’ll take note.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for managing stress. Every divorce is unique and everyone handles strain in different ways. Finding strategies that work for you and your situation is usually an exercise in trial and error. A few common ways include:
- Working with a therapist to address emotional issues.
- Increasing physical activity. Running, playing team sports, or going to the gym provide help relieve stress.
- Joining a single dad’s support group.
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Your kids want to know that you’re there when they need you and it’s important to let them know you are.
Being accessible shows your commitment to remaining a permanent fixture in their lives. Divorce takes a lot away, and it’s vital that your kids know it didn’t take you.
- Unless there are explicit reasons for limiting contact, return emails, texts, calls, and other messages in a timely manner. And not only if your kids call, but your ex, too. This is a solid first step toward successful co-parenting.
- Be available for last-minute opportunities. Not to say you shouldn’t have a life and should spend all your time sitting by the phone. Still, be flexible and be open to opportunities. It helps to think of them as such. If your ex gets sick and can’t pick your kids up from school, don’t look at it as a chore, look at it as a bonus, an unexpected chance to spend quality time together.
Accessibility is important, but there’s also a fine line to walk. You want to be available for your children and be respectful of your ex’s parenting time.
Without proper communication, well-intentioned acts can be misconstrued as a violation of temporary orders.
One of the biggest obstacles you face is keeping your status as an everyday divorced dad. Maintaining your relationship with your child through the process, and after, has challenges, but it’s worth the effort.
Divorce and custody issues can be complicated and confusing and getting accurate answers can be difficult. If you have questions about divorce, custody, or other family law issues, it’s in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney.
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