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Managing activities and events out of two homes
Events for parents
Resolution’s new Parenting After Parting information workshops aim to help parents manage the impact of their divorce or separation on their children. The workshops are run in partnership with leading charities Relate and Action for Children, and are affordable and accessible.
- Support your child's need for both parents to be involved. Don’t exclude your ex. The first people your child will look for will probably be Mum and Dad – and the involvement of both parents is hugely beneficial to children.
- Be responsible for sharing information with the other household. Leaving children to do this sends a subtle message that the other parent's involvement is unwelcome. Remember, you still have a responsibility to your children.
- Seek support from both households before involving your children in an activity. If you can't agree, seek middle ground, support the activity for your kids and set boundaries with your ex later.
- Keep your word. Being around your ex may be hard, but don't make things worse for your kids by failing to show up at events when they are expecting you.
- Enjoy the moment. Make the most of the precious time you have to cheer at games, applaud performances and work with your child on projects.
- Consider how you could make things easier for your kids. Carry an extra set of activity items in case the kids forget them; share information with the other parent even if they don't with you; enjoy sharing an activity with your child.
Planning for family events
My Time chart
This useful chart aimed at children aged four to nine can help separating parents give their children routine and stability after a divorce
- Think ahead. Where or when might your kids have a difficult time? What is most challenging for them? What might help them manage their behaviour better?
- Prepare. Pack a small bag with items to keep kids busy. Include water and healthy snacks so that they don’t overindulge in soft drinks and sweets.
- Plan with kids. Talk to them about what to expect. Let them know important details (when, where, who) and what you expect of them during the occasion.
- Catch them being good. Praise them throughout – don’t wait until the end.
- Give breaks as needed. If your child seems overwhelmed or on the verge of having problems give them a break by removing them from the situation.
Each year an estimated 240,000 children in the UK experience the separation of their parents. Overall, more than one in three children will see their parents split up before they reach their 16th birthday.
The summer is often a time when many children spend longer periods with or away from one or both parents. It can be difficult to think about not seeing children for weeks at a time, and the changes of routine can create stress for your kids too.
- Talk to the other parent about plans. If you disagree, make the best of things and focus on what is best for your children.
- Plan ahead. How would you like to spend time with your children and what can you do to prepare them for holidays and special occasions?
- Instead of informing children about plans, talk with them about how they would like to spend time with you.
- Build in quality time with low-key activities like visiting the park, reading a book together or playing a game. Too many exciting activities can overwhelm children and tire them out.
- Support your child’s relationship with your ex.
- If traveling with the kids, give the other parent contact information and details – you both have a right to know where your children are.
- Help children maintain consistent contact with the other parent by phone or email. Remember that children may miss their other parent.
- When your children are with the other parent, use your time to get refreshed. Visit friends, take a class, read a book or enjoy a lazy day.
Christmas and birthdays
Christmas and birthdays are often seen as a special time for families to be together. When Mum and Dad are divorced or separated, many parents and children can find themselves feeling confused, disappointed and frustrated. Emotional stress can be eased when parents put their children’s needs first.
- Avoid conflict with the other parent. Focus on your children’s needs.
- Keep children informed about plans – where they will be and with whom.
- Build a sense of family. Talk to your children about what makes the holidays special and how you can enjoy yourselves.
- Allow children to talk about past special occasions.They have a right to good memories of their family.
- Let the children know that even though things will be different, they can still be special. Invite them to help establish new rituals with you.
- Help your children make or buy gifts for their other parent – so that they can experience the joy of giving and know that you support their relationship.
- Don’t overindulge the children or get into a “gift competition” with your ex. Try to coordinate gift choices with the other parent.
- Minimize tensions for your children. Only take part in activities with the other parent like opening presents if it will be a positive experience.
- Allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.
- Maintain a sense of humour and be flexible. If plans are altered, ask yourself: “What difference will this make one year from now?”
- Use time away from your children to do something special for yourself.
New Year leaves many parents struggling to get kids back into a regular routine. It can be especially difficult when the children have been in two different households.
Consider starting the New Year with a family meeting. It may sound formal but family meetings offer you the opportunity to talk with your children, letting them know that their ideas are valuable and can help them feel included.
Family meetings are also a chance to find out what matters to your children and to generate ideas. Creating goals with your children can help strengthen their emotional connections to your home.
Here are some tips for a New Year family meeting:
- Plan ahead. Think through key points to cover. Consider asking your children to talk about what they liked about the family during the past year, what they would like to change, and what they think you need to work on as a family.
- Choose a date. Think about scheduling during a transition time (after dinner, over breakfast, before bed). Try to avoid pulling children away from activities. Try to make meetings no more than 30 minutes long.
- Set a positive tone. Let kids know ahead of time that you would like about 30 minutes of their time so that they can share their thoughts and ideas.
- Make sure everyone in the family gets time to speak. Ask one of the children to note down ideas.