Probably one of the most difficult things about being a Non Custodial Parent is the transition periods; preparing for your child to arrive, enjoying your time to the fullest, and then the inevitable goodbyes until you get to be together again.
Here are some tips to make some of those times easier. Some of these tips are fun, and some of them are serious; for the best interest of the parent and the child involved.
Scream Alleluia! If you’re getting a visitation, remember that you’re ahead of a lot of people in your situation. Count your blessings and always focus on the positive. Negative thoughts of “I know they’re coming to visit, but I should get to see them more often” just aren’t going to get you anywhere right now.
Stay focused. If you’re like most Non Custodial Parents (especially long distance parents who only get to see their children every couple months at the most) your excitement level is probably over the top. This is a good thing and shouldn’t be squashed, but remember to stay focused when you find yourself daydreaming about the upcoming visit while you’re driving or working.
Get some of your energies out by taking a trip to the grocery store and buying your kids favorite cereal, favorite movie snack, or other item that will light up their face when they arrive.
Budget ahead of time! If you’re a non custodial parent, you’re probably on a tight budget after child support, legal expenses, etc. Visitation can bring a lot of extra expenses for food, entertainment, clothing items that maybe aren’t being provided by the Custodial Parent, and a wide array of other expenses. Try to plan ahead and keep these expenses in your “regular” budget.
Scream Alleluia! You’re kids are here!! Kiss ‘em, hug ‘em and give them all the love you can possibly give them while you have them. But remember, you are still their parent! Discipline and rules while they are with you are essential. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being the “fun” parent, the parent who never makes the child do chores, the parent who says YES to everything. If you do fall into that trap, however, you’re creating nothing more than a spoiled child.
Take the time to have a chore list for your child to do while he/she is with you. It is possible to make it a little more fun by letting them choose their chores from a list (ie, take out the garbage, empty the dishwasher, fold the towels), but it’s important for them to know what’s expected of them when they are with you.