Make your parenting time successful

It can be painful to be apart from your children for any length of time. As a divorced parent with shared or limited custody, you need to make the time you do have with your children as successful as possible.

There are some simple steps you can take to make that happen. Here are the things you need to do:

1. Have a plan everyone can follow

An organized plan that's visible can help your children keep track of the visitation schedule -- and make it easier to visualize changes when you need to negotiate with your ex-spouse. A wall calendar that's color-coded can help both the children and the adults anticipate and plan for the changes that go along with transitioning from one household to the other.

2. Create an environment that helps you engage

When you do have your children with you, you want to engage with them. That's how you make your time matter the most and strengthen the bonds between you.

As difficult as it may be to do so, clear your calendar of anything that gets in the way of your time with your children. You won't be able to properly focus on creating memories if you're worried about making it to an engagement or something else you have planned.

In addition, try not to cram too many family events into your calendar with the kids, even if other relatives -- like grandparents -- are clamoring to see them. Neither you nor the kids will enjoy being stuck in the car as you travel from house to house all weekend so that everyone can visit.

3. Plan activities around your children's interests

Create a list of things you can do that will help the kids enjoy their time with you. It can be as simple as going to the park and hitting a McDonald's on the way home -- or something like a walk through the zoo or a movie. Try to take your children's interests into account as you plan and ask them what they'd enjoy doing or seeing.

There's going to be a period of adjustment to the changes in all your lives as you settle into a routine. Remember, too, that custody schedules often evolve over time. It may be necessary to revisit the custody agreement that you have now in order to better accommodate all your lives in the future.

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