Custody arrangements can be challenging. Your kids get tired of going back and forth between your home and your ex-spouse’s place, and you really miss them when they are away. For many parents, missing out on the seemingly small daily happenings can be especially difficult. You wish you were there to praise every crayon drawing, ooh and aah over an almost-perfect spelling test and read them a story at night.
Fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected with your kids when they are with their other parent. While it’s not the same as having them right next to you, these tips will help bridge the gap between homes.
Keep a running list of topics
Whether your kids are away for one night or one month, there are bound to be numerous stories that you’ll want to share with each other. Keep a “things to tell my mom/dad/child” list on the fridge, and use it to jot down notes about school happenings, anecdotes about friends or pets and other things you wish to share. You can also ask your kids to set aside art work and school projects in a special folder so they can show you the next time you are together, or when you are on the phone. For this tip to work well, you should ideally have the cooperation of your former spouse; this way, he or she can remind your kids to add items to the list and folder. Encourage your kids to keep similar reminders at your home, so they can remember to share stories and artwork with their other parent, too.
Use the power of technology
Thanks to mobile phones and tablets, you and your kids can connect in a variety of ways while you are apart. Even young kids can text you, send a brief email or set up a time for a phone call. To make it seem like you are all practically in the same room, FaceTime is another great option to stay in touch. Make sure your kids all have mobile devices that support FaceTime, like the iPhone 5S, and set up a predictable date and time to connect. In addition to seeing their lovely faces and catching up on whatever is going on, you can also use FaceTime as a way to see some of the goodies from the aforementioned folder. For example, your tween can show you her newest outfit and your teen can display his latest English paper.
A good old-fashioned letter is another terrific way to stay connected with your kids. This method of communication is especially effective when your children are going to be with your ex-partner for a longer period of time. You can either send a quick note on a cute greeting card or write up a longer letter about what you have been up to. Kids of all ages love getting mail, so they will undoubtedly look forward to getting your letters. You can also add in a few fun “tuck-ins” here and there, like a small sheet of stickers for your younger kids and maybe a small iTunes gift card for your older ones.