Flexibility and Cooperation are the Keys to Success
1. Offer Make-Up Time
If you reasonably believe your child is at risk of being exposed to Covid-19 when they are with their other parent, you can request that the children remain in your home until Shelter in Place is lifted. Offer the other parent “day for day” makeup time for the parenting time they agree to miss.
2. Offer Increased FaceTime or Skype Access
Offer more opportunities for communication during the week. While FaceTime or Skype are not as fulfilling as actual visits, they do offer parents consistent contact.
3. Offer to Adjust Timesharing to Reflect Actual Work Schedules
Many parents have been laid off or had their hours reduced or adjusted. Parents who are deemed “essential” workers may have to work extended hours, or even days. No one should miss out on parenting time because they have to work more hours.
If you are the parent with more flexibility, offer to adjust the timesharing according to the other parent’s days off. If you are the parent who has to work more hours, make sure your children can be with the non-working parent. This will maximize parenting time for both parents and will eliminate or reduce the need for childcare for younger children.
4. Offer to Adjust Visitation Locations
Some parents only have daytime visits. They are used to taking the children to public places during their parenting time, like parks, or the beach or the mall. Now those places are closed or off limits.
Instead of cancelling daytime visits, parents can take their children on car rides, if appropriate. A leisurely sightseeing drive around the island is a great opportunity to have interesting conversation with your kids.
5. Online Gaming is a Surprisingly Good Way to Spend Time Together
Play an online video game with your children. Though gaming is not typically considered an ideal option for parent/child communication for some parents, these are exceptional times. There are online video games and apps that allow parents to interact with their children in a fun and different way.
We have a client living in the Midwest who only had-in person visits with his children every other summer. Though physical contact was limited, he and his children were surprisingly very bonded, thanks in part to regularly playing online video games together several times a week for twelve years.
Minecraft is a great interactive game to play with your young children. Parents and children can log on and build a world together by harvesting minerals, making tools, and building structures.
You and your children can also challenge or work cooperatively with other families. A lot of the teens like the more violent games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. While these games may not be your cup of tea, they will create an opportunity to take an interest in something they enjoy and to learn about how they are spending their time.
These games encourage you to work cooperatively with your children to collect resources and defend your property. There is a lot of talking and interaction between players during game play, whether it be through texting, talking on the phone, or wearing fancy headsets.
Another option when you are not able to be face to face with your child is playing one of the many interactive games. Multi-player games like Words with Friends, which is like Scrabble, is a game you can play throughout the day with your child on your smart phone.
You can also play online chess, pool, Uno, Monopoly, Pokémon Go, and golf, to name only a few. You can access these games by downloading the specific App onto your phone.
6. Remember that We are All in this Together
Remember that this is a difficult and stressful time for many parents, families, friends, students, and the world. Taking care of, loving, and supporting each other during this trying time can be harder than ever, but remember that we are working together to do our best.