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Being a great parent when you’re on a visitation schedule

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For many divorced parents, the roughest adjustment that they have to make is not being with their children as much as usual. While shared parenting is becoming more of a norm, there are still many parents whose work schedules and lives make 50-50 parenting plans unattainable.

If that’s your reality, it’s important to make the most of your visitation time with your child. Whether you have your child only on weekends or even less, you can maintain your bonds — and even make them stronger. Here are some suggestions:

Give your child a space

If possible, your child needs a room of his or her own at your new residence. If that’s just not feasible, then make sure that your child still has a “reserved” spot somewhere in the house. Use a dresser or a bookshelf if necessary.

Focus on the routine

You don’t want to fall into the trap of always providing distractions for your kids, like trips to the amusement park, movies and zoos. While experiences like that can be positive, they can also prevent you and your child from connecting on a deeper level through communication. Try for low-key activities, like board games, and keep most of your visits routine. Aim to connect around your shared interests and hobbies instead of big trips.

Stay somewhat flexible

As difficult as it is to recognize, your child spends most of his or her time under another roof — so realize that he or she may be accustomed to doing things differently than you might prefer. Unless something is really an issue, try to stay relaxed about the rules. For example, if you’d prefer a 9 p.m. bedtime but your son is used to a 10 p.m. bedtime most of the month, it’s wiser (and easier) for you to make the adjustment. That eases tensions and adds a sense of sameness for your child between his or her two homes.

Always remember that child custody orders can be revisited as your circumstances change. If it becomes feasible for you and your child to spend more time together, you can ask the court to consider a more equal division of parenting time.

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