Making the Most of Your Visitation Schedule
Visitation schedules are an important element of a parenting plan. It lays out the amount of time that a child will have with each of their parents. Whether parents were able to come up with their own visitation schedule or were appointed one by the court, they should make the most out of the schedule they are working with. Every moment spent with their children is precious to a parent, regardless of whether the kids live in one home or share time between two. If you are away from your kids for some of the time, consider these tips to help you make the most of your visitation schedule.
Help the children understand the schedule. Depending on the age of your children, a visitation schedule may be difficult for them to grasp on their own. Making the transition between two homes should not come as a surprise to a child; they should be made to feel comfortable and secure when they go from one parent's house to the other. Part of creating this sense of security comes with having a reliable agenda. Help your children to understand the visitation schedule by setting up an easy-to-read calendar for each of them. This paper calendar should be placed in a location that the kids spend a good amount of time like their bedroom. Let them decorate the calendar by adding stickers and coloring in the days with colors that represent each parent's house. This calendar should be something that they enjoy to look at, not something that causes confusion or sadness.
Plan ahead for changes. Once your children have a handle on the visitation schedule, they'll grow to anticipate the transitions as they occur. While it is important to keep their schedule as steady as possible, there will come days where the schedule needs to be changed to accommodate the needs of one of the parents or the children. To make the most of your visitation schedule, plan ahead for changes as they come up. Make an effort to inform your co-parent as soon as you know that you need the schedule to change. Work with your co-parent to adjust the schedule in order to fit both of your needs within reason. If possible, consider proposing a trade in visitation time as to offer something in exchange for what you're requesting. This could help to encourage your co-parent to consider the offer. When you have agreed on a change, update all of the calendars including your children's. That way, everyone can prepare the make the most of what the visitation schedule will be.
Clear your head and have fun. When you're spending visitation time with your kids, you should make the most of it. Going into it with a clear head will help you to center your energy on them and the things you are doing together. It's hard not to let everyday stresses get in the way of having a good time, but you can try to lessen the noises in your head by taking some time to get your thoughts in order before your visitation. Also, plan a few fun things to do with your kids when they visit you. Take them on outings to local parks and museums, and have some fun things ready to do at home like some movies and healthy snacks ready to do. You won't want to shake up their normal routine too much during their visitation time with you, but you can still make an effort to have a great time.
Connect in between visitations. Visitation schedules vary from family to family. Some families have visitation every other weekend, some have a mid-week night visitation on top of weekends, and the variations go on and on. If you're a parent who has visitation and your kids spend most of the time with their other parent, it is important that you make an effort to connect with your children in between your time together. An after-school phone call, video chatting before bed, or sending messages online are all ways that you can connect with your kids.
When you make the most of your visitation schedule, you are working to cultivate a strong relationship with your children. Managing your schedule can be made easier when you use the right tools. The OurFamilyWizard® website has the tools to make maintaining your visitation schedule simple. Create your regular parenting schedule using color-coded tools that make it easy for anyone to read, even your kids. Print a copy of your calendar to hang on your child's bedroom wall so that they can learn the visitation schedule. When changes arise, OFW® offers the patented Trade/Swap tool which allows you to propose a change to the schedule along with a possible swap in visitation time. Finally, when you can't be with your children, send messages through the OFW® message board to stay connected even when apart. Making the most of your visitation schedule will take effort, but the tools on OFW® can make it feel much less complicated.