[N]ow that you have won custody of your children, your relationship with them will probably need modification from your former “weekend Dad” days.
This transition can put a strain on both parent and child. As a weekend Dad, Julie and Johnny were actually visitors. You could justify being bit more free-wheeling with them, with somewhat lax rules, undetermined bed times, and scheduled more elaborate weekend activities than you were comfortable with. But now, the parent-child relationship remains the same, but the rules will change. After all, you are a full-time family, not part-time relatives.
What follows are a handful of modifications or adjustments that should be made for the new family unit.
1. Set Boundaries.
After your child passes the toddler stage, they should realize that your bedroom is your solace. Either set a timer, or let them watch a favorite video (generally limit to 30 minutes) while you decompress, or just make sure they understand you need to remove yourself from the world for a few minutes.
2. Frequent a Family-Friendly Gym.
You know working out is good for your mental and physical health. Don’t have time or can’t get motivated? Many health clubs offer child care at a nominal cost and include for them fitness-themed activities. That gives you time to hit the weights, the treadmill or spin class. It’s a classic ‘me-time’ scenario.
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3. Hire a Sitter and Enjoy a Night with Your Friends.
That’s something you probably shouldn’t do as a part-time dad, since most single people have many opportunities to take advantage of a free night. But full-time parents want, and need some me time. Want to save some money? Okay, switch with a neighbor or friend on say, alternating weekends.
4. Let Your Kids Bond with Grandparents.
If your parents live nearby, they would probably welcome a visit from their grandchild for a few hours. However, a word of caution: employing this technique too often risks making them resentful of both you and Johnny. You want to maintain that strong relationship. Keep your parents in your corner.
5. Your the Alpha Parent, Be a Dad.
There is a reason you won custody. You are probably the better parent. Now that you won, it is not the time to slack off. Take some time for yourself as mentioned above, but be the Dad you told the courts you would be. Get involved with your kids school, help with homework, ask questions of your kids, be present in their lives.
After all, that’s why you fought so hard for custody. Be the parent your kids want you to be!
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