Avoid being a weekend dad
With one in three marriages now destined for the divorce courts and many other unmarried couples heading for splitsville it is no wonder that there are now many fathers who see their kids only on weekends. However, there are several things a dad can do to maximise his time with his kids so he doesn’t become a "weekend dad."
Ask to pick your child up from a week-day activity
Ask your ex if you can pick your child up from an activity they do in the week. This way you can see your child in the week and thus break up the long time in between proper visits. It also gives you the chance to see your child enjoying themselves and socialising with other children. You would be surprised how seeing them for an hour during the week can fill in that void before your next visit.
Pick them up from school
If you are able to pick your child up from school at least once a week, this is a great way to keep up with how they are doing at school and a chance to chat with their teacher. Schooling is one aspect that dads find hard to keep track of when they are not the full-time parent. School parent evenings are often difficult to attend, especially if you and your ex find it hard to be around each other. By picking your kids up at the end of the day you can try and catch a word with the teacher or even book a little chat in advance. It also gives you a chance to see your child for an hour or so, which will benefit both them and you.
Ask about shared parenting
Although traditionally mothers take on most of the parenting responsibilities when families break up, it is always worth dad asking if he can do a bit more than have the kids at weekends. If your relationship allows it, approach your ex and ask her if she is happy with you having the kids for a couple of nights a week. She may be glad of the break and it gives you a fantastic opportunity to bond with your kids and retain some of the responsibilities of being a parent. Even if you and your ex are not on speaking terms, it is always worth asking or even sending her a letter requesting for more time. If she has a job and domestic responsibilities as well, she may be open to the idea as it helps her out too. If the response is hostile but you feel this is something you strongly want to pursue, there are many people you can talk to – from family solicitors to organisations such as Fathers for Justice who can offer advice.
Mix it up
If it really is virtually impossible for you to see your kids at any time other than the weekends, there are some measures you can take to make sure your time together doesn't feel like it is separate from the rest of your child's life. Invite their friends along on days out so they are not taken away from their social life when they see you. As children get older they value their friends more and more and may not appreciate being whisked away by their father on a Saturday when really they just want to spend it with their friends. If they have been invited to a friend's party on the day they see you, you can promise to take them rather than them not attend at all. This way you can meet all their friends and the other parents and your child will get the both of best worlds – time with their dad and time with their friends.