Divorce and Children: 4 Signs You Can’t Ignore

divorce and children

The fact that divorce is super common isn’t comforting when your family is going through it. At least as one of the adults, you have some control over what’s happening. For your kids, watching you and your partner split up – even if the divorce is amicable, or ends a really contentious marriage – is probably at least a little traumatic.

So it’s totally normal to notice some changes in your kids during the months following a divorce. You’re dealing with a seismic shift in your own life, so things are changing for you too. But this can be a really scary and anxious time for children of all ages, and they’re extra vulnerable right after a divorce. Be on the lookout for these four potentially serious warning signs.

Their Behavior is Regressing

Regression just means that a kid is returning to a previous stage of development and behaving “younger” than they are. For example, a 4-year-old who has been potty trained for a year might regress and start having toilet accidents after her parents divorce. A child might also return to sucking his thumb or needing to sleep with a nightlight after having previously given up those behaviors.

If your child displays some regression, it could be a sign that she feels anxious and wants to go back to an earlier time when she felt safer. Offering plenty of affection and support, and not pushing her to “grow back up” too quickly, should help your child eventually feel ready to progress again. But if the regression lasts for more than a month or is very severe, contact your pediatrician.

They’re Unusually Depressed or Anxious

Feeling sad and nervous is unfortunately par for the course when it comes to divorce and children. This event will inevitably change things, and kids are rarely happy about that.

Depression and anxiety that interferes with your child’s ability to function, however, isn’t normal. For example, a severely depressed child might sleep much more than usual, seem disinterested in things he used to love and let his grades slip. An anxious kid might be unusually clingy, throw temper tantrums and become resistant about going to school. Take action if you notice behavior that could have a lasting negative impact on his health, friendships or academic career.

They’re Hurting Themselves

Kids who are in emotional turmoil sometimes express that pain by hurting themselves. Take seriously any signs of self-harm. These may include a child cutting, scratching or picking at her skin; burning herself; disordered eating (restricting food intake, binging and/or purging) and, in older children, drug and alcohol use. Immediately consult a school psychologist and your pediatrician if you notice signs of self-harm.

Another thing to watch for with divorce and children is faked or exaggerated illnesses or injuries. Sometimes a kid who wants to bring her divorced parents back together, or needs more attention than she’s getting, will try this ploy. That doesn’t mean you should assume every injury is fake, of course – but keep it in mind.

They’re Growing Up Too Fast

Having your child step up and help you more might sound like a dream, but some kids feel overly responsible for their parents after a divorce. Your child might try to fill in for the absent parent to make you happy or out of worry that the household will fall apart without a second adult around. Some newly divorced parents make the mistake of leaning too heavily on their kids for support, treating them like therapists or friends instead of children.

Divorce is already hard enough. Don’t let your child feel responsible for taking care of you. By all means, encourage your kids to do age-appropriate chores and take on tasks that they can manage! Just be careful to make sure they know that you’re the adult and will take care of things so they can still focus on being kids.

As A Co-parent, How To Keep In Touch With Your Child While He’s Not Home

keep in touch while your child is not home - 2houses

Separation is never easy and that’s doubly true when it comes to communicating with your child. If you’re a co-parent, there’s plenty of options for staying in touch with your child when he’s away. Modern technology has made communication easier than ever before!

It’s About More Than Technology

It’s completely natural to want to stay in regular contact with your children while they are away. That said, you’ll want to strike a balance between constant contact and unlimited freedom. Think about from your former spouse’s point of view: would you want your ex calling the kids every few hours when it’s ‘your’ turn?

The last thing you want to do is hover too closely. It’s co-parenting after all: let the kids have their time with their other parents! Allowing the children to stretch their legs with their co-parent is both normal and healthy.

The first step in keeping in touch with your children while they are away is to establish a set of ground rules with your former spouse. For example:

  • Decide whether you’ll opt for scheduled calls
  • Set limits (how much time spent communicating with the away parent is too much)
  • Decide how you’ll handle communication on longer visits

Schedule Regular Phone Calls

It might seem like sacrilege to the younger generations, but phones are for more than just texting. Setting up a regularly scheduled phone call for your children is a great way to remain a consistent fixture in their lives. For example, if you have a 50/50 custody agreement, a phone call every few days is usually more than enough.

Opt For A Video Call

Voice calls work wonders, but seeing someone’s face puts the conversation on an entirely new level. It’s never been easier to set up a video call — consider FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger — so feel free to embrace this technology. Your children will thank you for it!

Texting Is Consistent

Texting is a way of life and for good reason: it’s convenient! Regular contact via text is simple, flexible, and adequate for most pedestrian conversations. Texting is far less intense than a phone call and is inherently casual. As such, it’s great for keeping in touch on minor details (“How was the movie?”) and doesn’t detract from the co-parents time with the kids.

Of course, it can be tempting to overreach when it comes to texting and expect a constant flurry of messages. Try your best to avoid this — no one likes a helicopter parent — and remember that your ex’s time is just as valuable as yours. The more freedom and leeway you afford the children, the better the relationship.

Bring Your Former Partner Into The Mix

Imagine setting up a board game for a night in only to find your kids having a video chat with your former partner. Surprises like that are unwelcome on both sides of the co-parenting coin!

Take the time to introduce your co-parent to the ways in which technology can be used to keep in touch. Establishing firm boundaries is a great way to ensure that technology helps (and doesn’t detract) your parenting relationship. For example, try avoiding phone calls during overnight visits where you might induce a sense of homesickness. Likewise, avoid asking too much about your former partner during conversations: focus on the children, not your ex.

Keeping In Touch Shouldn’t Be A Chore

When it comes to staying in touch with your children while they are away from home, keep it casual. Talk to your former partner and establish a set of ground rules and go from there. Between phone calls, video chats, and texting, there’s plenty of ways to keep in touch.

Make sure to respect your co-parent’s parenting time and your children will love you all the more for it!

Guiding Children On Social Media

Guiding children on social media - 2houses

Today’s youth is growing up in a world dominated by social media. Online social networks aren’t just a fad or passing fancy: they’ve completed redefined the nature of modern social interaction. While the platform may change (MySpace, anyone?), the message is clear: online social networks are here to stay.

But how do we guide children in the use of these social networks? This article will explore some ‘best practices’ for keeping your children safe online.

Have Reasonable Expectations

Regardless of the platform, social media is a fact of life. Today’s teens nearly all have smartphones and at least three-quarters of teens use at least one social media platform. With that in mind, it’s important to have some reasonable expectations.

Don’t expect your children to not have any social media presence. It’s unrealistic, impractical, and likely impossible to enforce. When it comes to children with divorced parents, this becomes even more significant. Imagine a situation where one parent decides social media is fine and the other forbids it! There’s no better way to breed discontent, anger, and frustration between parents and children.

Limits Are Great

That said, setting limits is part of great parenting. Some parents opt for (arguably) fairly intrusive rules, such as forbidding the use of personal electronics in the bedroom. Instead of that rather draconian approach, consider establishing rules for the common areas of the home. For example, no phone use during family meals is a great way to teach your children about reasonable limits.

Educate On Policies

Children, especially teens, may have difficulty understanding the impact of their actions online. You want to teach your children to be a good digital citizen. Put simply, a good digital citizen is someone who uses the Internet and social media responsibly.

Digital Footprints

Digital content is just as real as something you hold in your hand. Spoken words, in contrast, can be forgotten, misheard, or ignored. When it comes to social media, teach your children that their digital footprint — all the comments, posts, accounts, and so on — they leave on the Internet is forever. Once something is online, there’s no telling who has seen it or what records of it exist.

Examples can help with this. Rolling Stone published an article back in 2015 detailing 15 different examples of people ruining their lives because of social media posts. Granted, the examples they use are pretty extreme, but the lesson is there: anything you post online is available for the world to see. The more your children understand the potential impact that online posts can have, the better.

Privacy Settings

While your children should understand that nothing they post online is truly ever secret, there are ways to protect their privacy. Sit down with your children and show them the different privacy settings available on social media platforms.

As a general rule, no social media platform for a minor should ever be set to ‘public.’ You’ll want to help your children go through their accounts and set the privacy to as high as can be.

Stress Communication

Social media can be a scary place. Cyber bullying, for example, is rapidly becoming one of the principal ways teens experience bullying. Your children may find it difficult to communicate these concerns to you. Remember to stress to your children that digital bullying is just as real as physical intimidation.

Cyberbullying aside, emphasize to your children that they should immediately tell you if they ever feel they are in danger. It’s a sad reality that predatory behavior exists online, especially with regards to youths. Your children should never feel ashamed or embarrassed that someone online is sending inappropriate messages.

Guiding Children Takes Honesty

In the end, the best way to educate your children on social media is to be honest. Tell them that, in today’s world, digital words are just as real as spoken ones. Stress that social media, just like any other place in the real world, has its own set of dangers. The more that you educate your children on becoming good digital citizens, the better equipped they will be moving forward.

Encouraging Your Child to Go Back to School

back to school is never easy for a child - 2houses
Unless you’ve recently found a functioning magic wand, getting your kids genuinely excited to go back to school might not be a realistic goal. It’s the rare kid who prefers math homework to sleeping in and playing outdoors, and everything’s a little more complicated for families of divorce. That doesn’t mean that this period has to be miserable for everyone. You and your kids can get through the back-to-school season in one piece, with a little preparation.

Get Parents on the Same Page

The start of the school year is a chaotic time for all families. Divorced and separated parents have extra challenges. Something as minor as communicating about a new school policy can be tough when you’re apart. If the kids sense that their parents aren’t on the same team about school stuff, it could add to their dread about going back to the classroom.
Both parents should read all communication from the school and raise any questions or concerns. Next, create a shared calendar that includes details like what time the kids wake up, eat and go to bed. This is especially useful if you have a strained relationship and prefer to communicate virtually. Discuss rules relating to screen time, homework time, food and socializing so you can (hopefully) create some basic ground rules around these things.
Does one parent lives too far away to be part of the kids’ day-to-day life? Coordinate with the school so that you both get all communication from teachers and staff. Still create that shared calendar, too. The remote parent should always know what’s going on with school. That way, he or she can back up your decisions and have meaningful conversations with the kids.

Adjust the Routines

Unless your family stays on a school schedule all year, back-to-school season calls for making some adjustments. Kids who have been waking up at 8 a.m. won’t be at their best if they’re suddenly required to get up at 6 a.m.
Prepare them for a smooth back-to-school transition by making minor adjustments to their schedules. Gradually shift bedtimes and wake-up times. Ask them to do 30 minutes of reading per day. Require them to pick out their clothes at night. If little kids are eating lunch at home right now, start serving it in lunch boxes to get them used to eating that way.
Again, getting your co-parent on board is one of the most important factors in determining how smoothly this goes. You could spend all week inching up bedtimes for your school-bound kids. All that effort won’t matter if your ex lets them stay up until midnight the next week.

Give Them Something to Look Forward To

Some kids struggle more with school than others, so it’s disingenuous to promise them that they’re going to love going back to school. But what you can do is give them some positive association with the idea of going to school again.
You might devise a reward system tied to performance, which allows them to earn things they really want by making a good effort in school. In the week leading up to the first day, wrap a series of small toys or gifts and give kids one each day. Get slightly more exciting first-day-of-school gifts and organize an after-school party on the first day. Plan a fun activity for the first weekend of school, too. Even just a pajamas-and-movies party at home could be a special treat.
If all else fails, help your glum kids get some perspective. Tell them that they have to get through school on their way to the rest of their lives. Talk about what they want to do when they’re adults, and why going to school is a necessary step on that ladder. Remembering that school is just temporary should comfort a kid who’s dreading going back.

Cooking With Kids: 3 Simple Recipes to Try

cooking with kids - 2houses
Getting kids involved with food preparation has tons of benefits. Cooking with kids helps them practice math, learn to love healthy foods and develop self-care skills that they’ll need someday. Plus, it gives you all a chance to spend quality time together.
Choosing recipes that will work for you and your kids depends on their ages, your kitchen setup and your family’s dietary restrictions. These simple recipe ideas are a good starting point.

Sweet Smoothies

Technically, of course, there’s no cooking involved with making smoothies. That’s what makes this is a perfect first project for little ones or kids who are new to the kitchen. Each child can choose and prep the ingredients for his or her smoothie. Offer a few base ingredients, like plain Greek yogurt or juice, plus a bunch of add-ins. Bananas, berries, peaches, mango, nut butters, kale, spinach, mint, tofu, avocado, milk, cinnamon and cocoa powder are all potential options.
Have kids do things like wash and cut fruit, measure ingredients and add them to the blender. Start with equal parts of your base ingredient and add-ins, add a handful of ice and make adjustments from there. An adult may need to operate the blender itself. Let kids taste the smoothie after each addition of a new ingredient. They’ll learn a lot about flavors and balance.

Crowd-Pleasing Pizzas

Making pizza dough from scratch takes hours from start to finish. If the family schedule allows, do it anyway. Homemade dough is simple to assemble and most yeast packages have a specific recipe. Kids can measure dry ingredients, mix yeast with water, then stir and knead the dough.
Of course, cooking with kids takes enough time as it is. If you want, opt for a store-bought crust, or use naan or packaged bread dough. Kids can make their own tomato sauce using canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, a little tomato paste and seasonings including oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes or until the onions are soft.
Finally, let kids prepare their own pizzas. They can roll the dough, spread the sauce, sprinkle on shredded cheese and pick their own vegetable toppings. In most ovens, cooking a pizza until the cheese is browned only takes about 15 minutes.

Easy Grilled Skewers

Cooking with kids shouldn’t take hours or they’ll get restless. Having them make their own kebabs or skewers is a quick way to get kids fed. They can play with their food, and each kid can customize a meal that he or she will actually eat.
Cut chicken or another meat into ice-cube-size chunks. Cut hearty vegetables like peppers, onions, zucchini and sweet potato into chunks of the same size. Whole cherry tomatoes work too. Let kids season the ingredients. Just salt and pepper might be enough for one kid’s tastes; another might prefer to rub meat with a spicy marinade or a sticky soy sauce glaze.
Next, let kids push the pieces onto simple wooden or metal skewers. You or another adult should handle the actual grilling, unless you’re cooking with an older teen. Simply cook the skewers on the grill or grill pan, turning each skewer every few minutes to cook all sides. Once the meat is cooked to the safe level of doneness, they’re ready to eat.
Kids can complete a meal of grilled skewers by mixing up simple dipping sauces. Try homemade ranch made with Greek yogurt, a sweet-and-sour honey lime dip or a smooth cheese sauce with melted cheddar.
Alternately, use this prep idea to entice kids to eat more fruit. Have them push chunks of pineapple, peach and banana chunks onto their skewers. Grill them until they’re lightly browned and have kids make a dipping sauce of yogurt, orange juice and a pinch of brown sugar.

Travel Plans for Separated Parents: Navigating Holidays and Joint Custody

holidays and joint custody - 2houses
Of all the potential conflicts that co-parents have to contend with, vacation and travel schedules are one of the trickiest. You might have a dream trip in mind – but if the other parent objects to the timing and itinerary, someone’s going to end up being unhappy. Co-parents who don’t handle this conflict well risk making the kids miserable and missing out on incredible memories.

First: Consult the Experts

If you and your ex have a formal custody agreement, it’s essential to refer to it before finalizing any plans. Your specific agreement and the custody laws in your state and/or country will play a big role in determining what happens around holidays and joint custody. This is an important step not just because of the legal issues, but also because of the potential for conflict here. If the potential travel plans aren’t allowed, hearing that from an attorney or legal document might help keep the disappointed parent from blaming the other parent.

Next: Analyze Your Proposed Plans

Taking the kids for a two-month trip around the world would be a life-changing, unforgettable experience for all of you – but it would be unfair to the parent who normally has the kids every other week. When there’s some discord between you around holidays and joint custody, bringing your ex a reasonable proposal is critical. Taking the other parent’s feelings and schedule into account demonstrates respect and a willingness to work together.
Analyze your holiday plans from the other person’s perspective. For example, are you planning to spend a ton of money on an extravagant trip, while the other parent struggles to make ends meet? In that case, the ex might feel resentful or be nervous about the kids preferring time with the richer parent. Making a more modest plan might help win them over. Or, if you want to take the kids away for three weeks and you know your ex would miss them terribly, amend your proposal to two weeks.
Also consider what your co-parent will miss out on with the kids while they’re away. If you’ll be taking them during time that she would normally be with them, propose a way for her to make up that time. Be prepared to trade something that’s important to you, too. If you want to take the kids over one of your ex’s summer weeks, you might have to give up Christmas week to get permission.

Finally: Make an Appeal

Instead of approaching holiday scheduling braced for a fight, approach it like a friendly conversation. (That said, email works fine for this if you have a strained relationship!) Even if you already mentioned your holiday plans, go back to your co-parent now to have a conversation about details.
Lay out your entire holiday proposal. Provide an itinerary. If you made any modifications for your ex’s benefit, explain those too. Be sure to build safety and communication plans into your holiday proposal: provide emergency contact numbers, propose a daily video chat call, lay out rules you’ll enforce on the trip, and so forth.
If your co-parent is resistant to your plans, appeal to their sympathy by explaining why these holiday plans are important to you. If there are specific benefits for the kids, point those out too. Will they get a chance to practice a second language? Learn about another culture? Get to connect with a rarely-seen grandparent? Help your ex understand that these holiday plans aren’t a ploy to hurt them or take the kids away, but that they have real value for the kids.

Summer Holidays: Managing Conflicting Days Off

Summer holidays and joint custody - 2ouses

Holidays can be tricky for parents with joint custody. After all, many companies do not let you take vacations whenever you want! If you’re struggling to figure out what to do with your children during your holiday (but not theirs), this article is for you.

The Old Standby: The Visitation Schedule

Your custodian agreement likely has a clearly delineated visitation schedule. That said, it’s rare to see a custodial agreement that doesn’t include flexibility for trades, swaps, or other scheduling changes. If you’re struggling to figure out how to handle having your holiday when the kids are still in school, this is the first move.

summer holidays
Mom and son

The more you communicate with your former partner about your desire to spend time with the kids, the better. Be open to swapping weekends or even entire holiday seasons if that’s what it takes. For example, if you’re forced to take your vacation the month before the summer holidays begin, ask to swap possession during those few weeks. If your former partner is proving reticent, consider sweetening the pot: throw in some extended weekend visits.

The goal here is to work within the confines of the existing joint custody agreement to produce the best result for everyone. The more you can achieve with talking, the better.

Bring the Kids Along (Virtually)

If your children aren’t home (and you are taking your holidays), use your free time! For example, consider asking your former partner if it’s possible to do regular video calls with the kids. If physical possession is out of the question, bring the kids along in a virtual sense.

camera and holidays
A vintage camera with vintage photos

Nearly everyone has some combination of smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer. It’s easy as pie to video call the kids daily while you’re off surfing in Hawaii or exploring the streets of Europe. If the time zones don’t line up, or if the kids are busy, record short videos of your vacation adventures. The kids can watch them when they have the time and you’ll remain a constant presence in their life.

Consider Offering Your Own Time

Parenting is the busiest profession in the world, bar none. Taking the kids from soccer practice to band practice to chess club takes time that your former partner may not have. If you’d prefer to spend some of your summer holidays with your kids, offer to make your former partner’s life a bit easier.

Holidays as mono parent
Dad and his daughter at the sea.

Of course, this depends entirely on your joint custody agreement. Your current relationship with your ex certainly comes into play as well. That said, an amicable offer goes a long way: offering to take the kids to soccer practice (followed by ice cream) might give your former spouse a few precious hours they desperately need.

Talk Early, Talk Often

It’s a sad reality that joint custody parenting often focuses more on managing your relationship with your former partner than anything else. The more you talk, the better the outcome for those pesky holiday schedules. Take the time to work out a clear summer holiday schedule as far in advance as possible. The sooner you know there will be a scheduling conflict during your holiday, the better!

Managing Summer Holidays

It’s not fun to find out that you’re forced to take vacation days away from your children. If it happens, take the time to communicate your desires to the other parent and see if an agreement can be reached. If there’s no way to change the vacation schedule, see if it’s possible to volunteer some time here and there. And, of course, phone calls, video chats, and short video clips never go amiss.

It’s not an ideal situation, but use these tips and make the best of it!

Navigating Joint Custody and Father’s Day

father's day

It might take a few months, or even longer, but parents and kids will get used to a new normal after divorce. The kids will become accustomed to spending time with one parent at a time, and you and your ex will adjust too. But even when you sort out the logistics of everyday life post-divorce, certain holidays may always be a source of tension. With Father’s Day and Mother’s Day approaching, talking now about what will happen on these special days is an important part of making them run smoothly.

Joint Custody and Father’s Day: Potential Pitfalls

Especially if this coming Father’s Day is your family’s first since the divorce, having a happy and loving day with your kids probably feels really important. Hopefully that’s exactly what will happen, but it’s important to be mindful about all the potential obstacles that your family will have to navigate.

First, there’s the legal side. Your custody agreement will factor into how you handle scheduling these holidays. It’s not just up to your and your ex to decide what happens, so check that agreement first.

Next, think about your expectations for this special day. Father’s Day probably seems even more important now that you’re not with the kids every day, but expecting a perfect day of family bonding is probably not realistic. Your kids might be grumpy, the weather could be bad – any number of things could throw a wrench in the plans. Stay flexible.

And if you’re not able to get custody for Father’s Day, think ahead about what you can do on that day instead. Plan a full slate of fun and distracting activities with childless friends, or opt for a low-key day at home if you think seeing families out and about will be too hard.

Divorced parents deal with these issues around Mother’s Day, too. We’re focused on joint custody and Father’s Day today, but these same pitfalls and strategies are just as relevant to moms who aren’t scheduled to have custody on Mother’s Day.

Talking to Your Ex About Holidays

Who gets custody on a special holiday is a hotly contested issue between some divorced parents. This is an emotional issue, and being separated from your kids on a day when you’re supposed to be together can cause tension between your and your ex. It’s imperative that you don’t let that happen, as adding conflict to your relationship will hurt the kids.

Luckily, you can both understand the significance of these parent-specific holidays. One good strategy to get access to your kids when they’re scheduled to be with their other parent is to offer an even exchange. If the kids can be with you on Father’s Day, your ex can have them on Mother’s Day or on another important date of her choosing.

If your relationship with your co-parent is really strained, put your request in an email or ask a trusted family member to serve as a go between. Your ex still disagrees to your request for custody that day? Suggest the whole family gets together for a meal so you can at least see the kids for part of the day.

Talking to Your Kids About Holidays

If your discussions about joint custody and Father’s Day go nowhere, you’ll have to prepare yourself and your kids to be apart on this day. The best strategy? Ignore what the calendar says and establish your own [Last Name] Family Father’s Day, on a weekend when you have custody.

Your kids might ask about why they won’t see you on Father’s Day, especially when they notice their friends are spending the day with their dads. Be honest and sympathetic, making sure not to blame your ex for the scheduling. Say something like, “I’m disappointed too, but it’s your weekend to be with mom and it’s important that we stick to that agreement. We’re going to celebrate on [date] instead!” If possible, make a plan to video chat with the kids on Father’s Day so you can share a meal or read a book together, even if you can’t be physically together.

Joint Custody And Mother’s Day: How To Manage If It’s Daddy’s Turn?

mother's day

Mother’s Day and joint custody present a difficult challenge — if it’s Daddy’s turn, what’s the best way to handle the holiday?

If you think of Mother’s Day as an emotional holiday, you’re not alone. Splitting custody of children is not easy — especially when holidays roll around — but there are ways to make the process smoother.

Check Your Parenting Agreement First

First, brush up on the basics. Check your parenting plan agreement and see if the arrangement includes an exception for Mother’s Day. Most parenting plans will include clauses for special days (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on).

If you have one, you’re in luck: custody is straightforward when its spelled out in a document. Even if it’s Daddy’s turn for custody, a Mother’s Day exception clause will grant possession for the holiday.

It’s Not Always That Easy

Of course, life is not always so easy. If you check your joint custody agreement and find no exception for Mother’s Day, the best step is to open a dialogue with your former spouse. Take the time to talk to your child’s other parent and see if you can come to an agreeable solution.

At its core, asking for custody over the holiday is a bit like asking for a favor. The father is not legally required to oblige you — keep that in mind! Present your case in a friendly, agreeable manner and try to keep emotions out of it. The moment anger comes into play, the chances of coming to an agreement vanish.

You Might Have Legal Remedies

Even if your parenting agreement does not allow for Mother’s Day custody, check your local state laws and regulations. Some states, like Texas, have statewide provisions that grant mothers possession during the holiday. It’s worth a quick check or phone call with your lawyer to double-check!

Alternatively, you could seek to modify your existing parenting agreement. You can do this by speaking to your lawyer about changing the custodial agreement. This is a big step — and not an easy one — so try to think of it as a last resort. It’s always better to come to an amicable, mutually agreeable solution with your former partner.

What Not To Do

It goes without saying, but always abide by the rules of your parenting agreement. If visitation or custody is not granted during Mother’s Day, stick with the letter of the law. Likewise, if your former partner violates the custody agreement, remember the law is on your side.

A Few Tips For Reaching An Agreement On Joint Custody

Depending on your relationship with the father, reaching an agreement regarding Mother’s Day might be a tall order.

Offer a bit of quid pro quo. Mother’s Day custody in exchange for Father’s Day may work as a compromise. Alternatively, depending on the specifics of your custody agreement, you may be able to ‘swap’ visitation days. In general, try to be accommodating and polite — the more you are willing to work with your former partner, the better.

Offering “make up” weekends is a great way to garner some goodwill with a former spouse as well. Going out of your way to show that your child values time with both parents will be much appreciated!

It’s All About Communication

Mother’s Day is a time when emotions run high and tempers may flare. Dealing with joint custody issues is not easy — even if we wish it were — so take the time to communicate.

See if it’s possible to swap custody days to make room for Mother’s Day. Alternatively, consider offering some “make up” days to sweeten the deal. You may also consider modifying your parenting agreement to include possession on specific holidays.

Whatever path you take, open communication with your child’s other parent is key.

5 Things To Embrace Easter With Kids

Easter with kids

Easter comes at the right time – spring is in full swing, the weather turns for the better, and there’s plenty of fun to be had. If you’re debating how to spend Easter with kids, don’t worry – here are five great activities to consider.

1: Dyeing Eggs for Easter

It’s a classic and for good reason – it’s fun, easy, and makes for great memories. Even better, it doesn’t take much in the way of materials or preparation. Just grab some eggs, your choice of egg dye (many companies sell Easter-specific egg kits), and you’re off to the races.

Of course, egg dyeing can go well beyond a simple color change. Test the limits of your kid’s creativity – challenge them to decorate an egg as their favorite superhero, for example. Glitter, sprinkles, paint, and markers all work to make your eggs really stand out.

Easter with kids - 2houses

2: Easter Egg Hunts

You’ll likely find an egg hunt thrown by your city or local recreation center, but feel free to make your own! Stash some eggs in whatever likely hiding places you can think of (and don’t worry, this works fine indoors) and let the kids loose.

To spice things up, a ‘cheat sheet’ with a few hints is not a bad idea. For example, telling the kids that there are five eggs in the kitchen might have them tearing up cereal boxes, checking the ice tray, and digging around in light fixtures. Of course, they have to clean up the mess they made – Spring cleaning can get a headstart here!

3: Egg Rolling

A handful of eggs, some long-handled spoons, and you’re golden. Egg rolling is a fantastic Easter activity with tons of versatility – traditionally, you’d ‘race’ to see who can roll their egg through the grass the fastest. Plenty of variations exist: eggs rolling and tumbling down a hill is a great (and potentially messy) way to change things up.

easter with kids - 2houses

4: Jelly Beans Galore!

Jelly beans are oddly versatile little treats. Take the traditional “Jelly Bean Guessing Game”, for example. Simply fill a jar with the beans, ask the kids how many there are, and count them up. The winner gets to gorge themselves on one of Easter’s most addictive snacks.

If you’re looking to make things a little more challenging (or potentially yucky!), opt for a twist on the “guess the flavor” game. It’s more than possible to find different sets of jelly beans that come in a range of weird, wacky, and wild flavors. Asking the kids to discern the differences between cherry, strawberry, potato, and ‘stinky socks’ flavors is sure to get some laughs!

5: Get the Yard Involved

Eggs, bunnies, and jelly beans make for a fantastic Easter. However, what about an activity that has a real sense of permanence?

easter with kids - 2houses

Enter the Easter Garden!

If you’re lucky enough to have garden space, Easter is a perfect time to really make the most of it. If you’re limited on space outdoors, a window planter/window box is a fantastic (and affordable) alternative.

Feel free to plant a range of spring fruits and vegetables, but don’t forget the quintessential Easter flower – the white lily. Tulips, daisies, and hyacinths are excellent as well. Throw in some azalea for extra color and, voilà, an Easter garden will be a fixture in your kid’s lives for weeks to come.

Easter Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

You’ll find that springtime often offers its own solutions – get outside, get active, and let the weather speak for itself. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor mischief, every activity listed above can be done indoors (just be careful with the eggs). Stick with some traditional activities and Easter with kids!