Life doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt just because it’s your weekend with the kids. If you find yourself stressed out at the thought of your upcoming weekend with your children, maybe this will help.
Here are some ways to make it easier to live your life, get stuff done, and spend quality time connecting with your children during “your weekend” with the kids:
Plan ahead of time. But, stay flexible just in case those plans change. Double check to see if the activity you have planned is open, and details such as the hours of operation, parking, bathroom location for potty trained kids, nap times, meal times, snacks and accessibility to allergy-free food, weather appropriate clothes and shoes for the outing (Do the kids need warm jackets or comfy shoes) and even Covid mandates (do the kids have to wear masks). Don’t get caught unprepared. It could ruin your plans.
Manage expectations. Both yours and your kids. Have a very specific conversation with them on the way to the event. You can say, “there will be a toy store at the museum, but we aren’t buying toys today, do you guys understand?” They still might throw a fit about not getting a toy, so be patient and stay calm when it happens. Think of a tantrum as your child having a hard time rather than intentionally giving you a hard time. A change in perspective can help you have more compassion and not lose your patience.
Connect with other single parents. It’s nice to have other friends who can relate to your situation as a single parent and offer advice based on what has worked well for them. Plan play dates with them and their kids. Get outside in nature. Children are little balls of creative energy and they are happy and fulfilled when running around an open field like beautiful maniacs. This also helps their need for social interactions with other children that they may not be getting through “virtual learning”.
Take care of yourself too. It’s easy to forget to drink water, get enough rest and eat nutritious meals when you are so focused on caring for your children. But, the more you take care of yourself, the better you will react to the potentially difficult parenting tasks that kids present. If your kids get into a fight, have a meltdown, or refuse to eat the meal you prepared, don’t let it ruin your day. Take some time, regain your composure and carry on. Pace yourself, reserve your energy, set boundaries, don’t overcommit yourself and don’t try to do too many things at once. This is all part of the messy, hard, beautiful art of being a single parent. You got this.
Get a sitter. Yes, seriously. And don’t feel guilty about it. If you were invited to a fancy dinner party or double date on a night you’ve got your kids, your plans don’t have to get canceled just because its “your weekend”. This is especially true if your event takes place after bedtime anyways. Have a trusted friend or family member watch the kids for a few hours so you can connect with other adults. The kids will benefit from some quality time with grandma, you get a little quality time for yourself, and no resentment from having to cancel a fun evening out.
Spending meaningful and frequent time with your kids will help you really get to know them. You can plan stress-free weekends based on their interests and plan activities according to what makes them happy. Each weekend with them gets easier as you find your routine. One day soon you will look forward to spending the entire weekend with your kids because you will be confident in your parenting abilities and prepared for whatever the weekend brings. Good luck, it’s “your weekend” with the kids!
Parent Tip: Consider these questions BEFORE planning the weekend.
What are your kids interests? Hobbies? Love languages? Are the introverted or extroverted. Will activities with other kids be stressful for them or fun? Would they prefer activities with just you? Do they have lots of energy or are the tired from their week?