Spending Quality Time with Kids on a Shared Schedule

When co-parenting on a shared custody schedule, the time that you spend with your kids is precious. However, the time you do have together probably feels rather limited. Kids sometimes have a tendency to assume that the amount of time they spend with a parent is equal to how much that parent cares for and loves them. While you know this isn't exactly true, it probably does make you want to do all you can to make the time you have with your kids as memorable as possible. To share time with your kids with your co-parent could mean that you each have equal parenting time, but it could also mean that you only have periodic visitation over some weekends. Whatever the situation might be, spending good quality time with your kids on a shared schedule is surely possible, and it can often be done whether you are together or apart. 

Quality Time Spent Together

Your custody schedule lays out the rules for how you and your co-parent will share time with your kids. No matter what your schedule may be, the way you choose to spend that time together is more important than the amount of time you have. Your kids will carry the memories that you make together for their entire lives, and there are many things you can do as to influence those memories in a positive way. When your kids are with you, take some time to do fun things together. Kids enjoy doing creative things that work their imaginations, so the things you do together don't have to be extravagant or expensive. Some creative and healthy ways to spend quality time together may include: 

  • Playing different kinds of games, whether it's a classic board game or a new, creative game that spark your kids' imagination. Let them choose the games you play, even if it's a silly game that they just made up in their minds. This is a great opportunity to indulge in some silliness with your kids, which they are sure to enjoy.
  • Building or fix things together. This could include putting together a large puzzle or model, or it could include fixing up some rooms around your house by painting or re-decorating. By constructing or improving something together, you and your kids will have a chance to work together and bond over this experience. 
  • Cook together, whether it's a simple dinner or a special meal. This is probably something you find yourself doing alone most of the time, but it's so easy to invite your kids to share in the action and delegate simple tasks to them. It's also a great opportunity to teach your kids about nutrition and teamwork. 
  • Ride bikes, rollerblade, dance, go for walks, or do anything else that gets you and your kids moving. Exercise is healthy, but it can also be both creative and fun. 
  • Have conversations and share stories with your kids. Kids often love to learn about their family history or even just about what their parents were like when they were kids. 

Also, if you have more than one child, try to carve out time that you can spend with each of your kids individually. This might be something that you can only do once in a while depending on your shared custody schedule, but whatever time and attention you can give to each of your kids individually is special. Treat your child to a special dinner date for just the two of you, or even simply read with each of your kids individually before bed. Both events allow for an opportunity for you and each of your kids to share moments that are just for you two.

While there are healthy ways to spend the time you share with your kids, there are also a number of things you can do which could cause more harm than good in the long run. Showering them with gifts, indulging every single one of their desires, and simply allowing them to get away with breaking rules are all unhealthy ways to spend time with your kids. Even though it might seem like a good idea as a way to gain more of their affection, it also has the potential to encourage bad behavior later on. Maintain the rules that they are familiar with, and keep them on a routine that they are used to. A regular schedule of meals, school time, and sleep are some of the most important elements of the routine to uphold.

Quality Time Shared While Apart

A shared custody schedule implies that you won't always be with your kids physically, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can't share quality moments with your kids even when apart. Phone calls, emails or video chats are a convenient way to connect with your kids even when you can't physically be together. Depending on your own agenda or the rules implemented within your custody agreement, you may possibly be limited as far as how often you can contact your kids while they are with their other parent. Even so, you can still send your love to your kids in other ways. Leave a note with them to read later on that tells them how much you enjoyed your time together and that you look forward to next time. You could even give them a special toy, blanket or another small item that they can bring with them between homes which will remind them of you each time they play with it. Also, having photos of you two together can help remind them of the fun times you've spent together. You could frame one of these photos which they could keep in their bedroom. These are all easy ways to share your affection for your kids even when you're apart. 

Quality time spent with kids is important and can be done in a number of ways, even if you don't share all of your time together. The things you do together to create memories are just as significant as the things you can do to show your love when you're apart. Your shared custody schedule might make it feel like you don't have as much time with your kids as you'd like, but keep in mind that the way you spend the time you do have together is much more important than the amount of time you have. Special moments can be shared between you and your kids in only moments. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.