The bond between parent and child is a strong one… if you nurture it. When you don’t have your kids all the time because you’re sharing custody, it can feel harder to nurture that bond. The good news is that it’s not hard; it just takes some extra effort. While I enjoy some alone time when my daughter is with her dad, I want her to know that she’s important to me. Here are four ways I nurture the bond:
1. We write notes to each other. My daughter and I have a shared notebook. Some days, she writes to me, and some days I write back. Sometimes we tell each other stories about our day, sometimes we ask each other questions, and sometimes we just draw funny pictures. When my daughter goes to her dad’s house, she takes the notebook with her. I try to leave a special note for her to find each time. It’s a way for us to feel connected even when we’re not together.
2. We have a weekly ice cream date. Between the two of us, my daughter and I are busy! No matter how busy we get though, Thursday night is our night. We keep the calendar clear and after dinner, we have ice cream and talk. Sometimes we eat homemade chocolate sundaes in our kitchen and sometimes we go out for frozen yogurt or gelato or soft serve ice cream. But every Thursday, while we eat ice cream, we sit down and have conversations. We talk about life and growing up and traveling and dreaming big and it’s so nice to have this dedicated time to just be together.
3. We read together. My daughter loves to read, so we read together. On nights when she’s at my house, we sit in my bed together and take turns reading out loud in whatever chapter book we’re in the middle of at the time. When she goes to her dad’s, we make a plan for how many chapters to read before she gets back. Reading together is a great way to bond and as an added bonus, my daughter’s reading comprehension skills are stellar!
4. We video chat when she is away. Technology has its faults, but sometimes it’s really amazing. I got my daughter an iPad for her birthday and taught her how to FaceTime. We always FaceTime right before she goes to bed when she is at her dad’s and I take care to make sure it doesn’t interfere with their time together. But it’s really wonderful to be able to see her face and tell her goodnight, even when she isn’t staying at my house.
How do you nurture your bond with your kids when they don’t live with you full time?