A Parent’s Guide to Sex After Divorce Age Appropriate Explanations for Your Kids

A Parent’s Guide to Sex After Divorce Age Appropriate Explanations for Your Kids

Getting back to having sex after divorce is more than just creating a Tinder account and swiping till you find someone you like.

Sometimes there are kids to think of, and they might not like what you are doing.

Things with your kids will go smoother when you actually take the time to talk to them. That’s how you can help them used to the idea of you having sex after divorce – or at least they won’t be so traumatized if they accidentally surprise you in the middle of it! 

But as anyone who’s ever tried talk to their kids about sex can tell you, it isn’t easy.

Sometimes you need a little professional advice to help you on your way. 

Sharon Garro is a Registered Psychologist with over 15 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and schools. Sharon has completed a degree in Psychology, a Masters in Counselling and a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (University of Melbourne).

I asked Sharon to offer her advice to parents who are starting to think about having sex again after divorce, and what they should do for their children.

Sharon says, “When there are children to consider, thinking from multiple viewpoints can sometimes be daunting, and this is a time, when hoping they won’t notice or it will all just go away, doesn’t really benefit anyone in the long run.” Sharon stresses that “that there is no ‘right way’ only what is ‘right for you’.”

So here are some age-appropriate suggestions for how to approach that awkward conversation, and ease your path to guilt-free dating and happy kids, (or at least until they have to eat broccoli). 

How to Explain Sex After Divorce

To Teenagers

Teenagers have often had their own experiences of dating and romance. According to a CDC survey 41% of high school students have had vaginal sex at least once in their life.

At the same time, they may feel weird about the thought of either parent having sex after divorce. By now, teenagers are better able to see adults as having flaws and capable of making mistakes while having the best intentions. They may also object to being told “no sex before marriage” if you then go ahead and hook up casually yourself.

Sharon recommends seeing this life experience as an opportunity to develop your relationship with your teenager. She says, “Taking the time to share with your child the things you value in a person and a relationship, can help model this thinking to them, which will help them develop the skills to make similar choices in the future. For example, speaking to your child about the value of having someone in your life who supports and respects you, treats you kindly, is humorous, shows compassion etc. can highlight the types of characteristics that are important in a relationship. Following on from that, can come the discussion about when it is appropriate to share sexual intimacy, based on your own individual values.”

Try this conversation starter:

“I’m just letting you know I have started going on dates. I miss your mother but that ship has sailed. I don’t know if I am ready for another serious relationship yet, but I do want to meet new people and just see what happens.”  

Share your views on how emotionally involved you need to be to sleep with someone.  

To Middle Schoolers

Middle schoolers have reached the age of romantic crushes and are dreaming about being boyfriend and girlfriend, if they aren’t in real life already. If they haven’t had the “sex” talk yet, they will have had plenty of exposure to sex from the media and their friends.

They know enough to read between the lines and might be skeptical that your new companion is “just a friend,” and they can work out what is going on from an extra toothbrush or suggestive texts on your phone. They will certainly figure it out if they find a bra or condom left lying about accidentally, and they will be devastated to find out this way. 

They will find it awkward to talk about sex after divorce, just like in the teenage years, especially if they haven’t had the regular sex talk yet. A recent study from Georgetown University found that children as young as 10 benefit from open and accurate information about sex and reproduction. So have the “BIG” talk, make it separate to a discussion about you dating again, and do it early, so they hear it from you rather from the Internet or their friends.

Sharon says, “When it does come to have the talk it is important to know what your own values are, and how you want to express these to your child. This talk will not be the same for everyone, due to the age of the child, how recently your separation/divorce from your partner was, and their maturity. It will also vary dependent on the personal values around sexual intimacy that you have. Most importantly, make sure that whatever you want to instill in your children is modelled at this time. Children learn mostly by what they see, rather than the words you use, and will be the first to highlight what they see as double standards. So, if you want your little girl to choose a partner that respects her, respects her family, and for her to wait until the relationship is serious before becoming sexually intimate, then this is the time to show her this is what you expect for yourself as well.”

Try saying this:

“I am seeing someone at the moment, I’m not sure how serious things will get. It might not even work out between us. I hope it’s not awkward. But, I wanted you to find out from me, and not somebody else.”

Share your values about dating and relationships, how you fall in love, and when it’s not healthy to stay in love.

To Young Children

Young children will often still be hoping that the two of you might magically get back together again, and everything will behave nicely to each other. They will resent any new partner as that will further crush their hopes of a happy family.

They may also worry that you won’t love them any more. Reinforce that just because you have separated it doesn’t change the love you have for them as a father. It is far better for you to bring up the idea of seeing someone new in general well before you bring your new partner home.

If your child is extremely distressed at the idea of you dating it may be a sign that they need more time to get used to the separation, or may need additional counselling and support to process their feelings.

Also, it can be useful to have a discussion about when you are allowed to take your clothes off (like at the doctor’s, or getting changed after swimming).  Because, if they bust you getting naked with your tennis partner who you have said is “just a friend” the logical conclusion is that they can get naked with their friends.

Sharon recommends, “In general, as awkward as it may seem initially, taking the time to talk about your new relationship with your child, can not only help them with processing the changes, but also become an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.” She stressed that navigating this life change together “could be a valuable learning experience for when the tables are turned, and you are supporting their steps towards developing intimate relationships.”

Try this:

“I’m going out to meet other grown-ups and see if they are nice people. I might make a new friend, and maybe, if we like each other very much, she will be the sort of friend who I can hug, and kiss, and hold hands with, like I used to with Mom.”

Share how much you love your children and how you have enough love for your children and a new relationship.

Talk To Them About Your Story

With younger children, go through the narrative of how you and their mother got together and got married. Then talk through the story about how you fell out of love, keep it simple but real for them, and then talk about how you both will do the same activities with new people to find love again.

With older children get nostalgic with them, talk about how you and your ex fell in love, and then how it all fell apart, talk openly and honestly, encourage their input, and then talk about how you will go through all that again with a new person.  

Emphasize with all ages that you are looking for grown-up love, someone you can share lots of things with, or they may wonder why their love isn’t enough.

Listen When Your Children Talk

If your children are upset by the idea of you dating again, the best person for your children to talk to is you. But for some situations, they may also benefit from a supportive adult who is not emotionally involved in the break up. 

A counsellor can be a safe person who can help them process the emotions they are feeling, without worrying about making you feel sad. Talk to your GP or school to see what resources they can refer you to. A pastor, teacher, or coach may also be able to support your children.

So, no matter how awkward, taking about sex after divorce with your kids is an opportunity to be embraced. It is a process that can end up strengthening your relationship with them. However the conversation turns out, it’s important to remember that there is no right way, only what is right for you. 

Have you had “the talk”with your kids since the divorce? Share your experience in the comments below.

Know any divorced parents?

Share this article on your social media.


(c) Can Stock Photo / emese73

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How to Reduce the Effects of Divorce on Children Six Ways to Help Your Kids Cope

How to Reduce the Effects of Divorce on Children Six Ways to Help Your Kids Cope

It’s important to be extra cautious of your words and actions around your kids during and after your divorce. If you’re worried about how your kids are going to deal with your separation, take a look at how to reduce the effects of divorce on children.

Divorce is something that effects the entire family, especially your children. Even if you and your spouse know the separation is for the best, your kids aren’t likely to understand why mom and dad are splitting up. They may develop psychological or behavioral troubles, find it impossible to understand, or they may even blame themselves for the divorce.

Understanding the Effects of Divorce on Children

Divorce can impact children in a multitude of ways depending on their age and how they deal with challenging situations. No child wants their parents to separate, but some will be more understanding than others.

Young children are likely to be very confused about what the divorce means, and it will almost always be stressful for kids, no matter what age they are. Divorce can also increase the risk of psychological and behavioral problems, such as trouble with academic performance, anxiety, anger, and disobedience.

You play an essential role in how the divorce will effect your children. You can’t control everything, but if you and your spouse do a good job managing the divorce, your children are much more likely to accept the process.

Here are some tips for making divorce easier for children.

1.     Reduce Conflict with Your Ex

The last thing your kids need to experience is you and your ex fighting with each other. If the two of you are in conflict, your kids may think it was because of something they did. The split is hard enough on them as it is, they don’t need to see their parents going at it. Don’t fight with your ex in front of your kids, and make sure you don’t criticize her in front of them when she isn’t around. The more conflict they see between their parents, the harder it is for them to deal with the stress of the divorce. Keep it civil, at least in front of their eyes.

2.     Don’t Jump into a New Relationship

Your kids already have to wrap their head around their parents splitting up, they most likely won’t be too open to seeing their dad with another woman. Children may think you’re trying to replace their mom and feel confused about how to feel with another maternal figure in the picture. For young children specifically, warming up to their dad in a new relationship can be really tough, and can even have negative effects on their emotional well-being. 

If you do start dating again, make sure you wait until it’s very serious before introducing her to your kids. You don’t want them stressing out or getting attached to her if it’s something really casual. And you want to make sure that whoever you’re dating is open to accepting your extended family, including your kids and ex. The less conflict and the less your children have to worry about, the better.

3.     Explain the Situation 

Most young children will feel confused about why their parents are getting a divorce, and what a divorce is. It’s important to make sure you explain the situation and what’s going to happen moving forward. You don’t need to divulge the details of the divorce, especially if the reasons are less than amicable. But you do need to explain what’s going to be occurring and what they can expect. They need to be reassured that their relationship with both parents will remain positive and equitable, and they need to know that they’re not the reason for the divorce. Explain to them how the time is going to be split up between each parent, depending on your arrangement, and why they may be spending more time at one house than the other (based on scheduling and proximity to school, etc.). To lessen the effects of divorce on children, it’s crucial for them to understand how life is going to change, and how it’s going to stay the same after the divorce.

4.   Don’t Use Your Child as the Messenger 

If you have something to relay to your ex, tell her yourself. Don’t get your children in the middle of it. First of all, they could forget, second of all, they don’t need the burden of passing on information from parent to parent. You should be communicating directly with your ex, not involving your kids. You also shouldn’t be asking your kids to tell you information about your ex’s personal life. This will make them uncomfortable and could break the trust between them and their mom. Don’t put them in that position.

Your conversations with your children should be focused around them. Talk about school, extra-curricular activities, their friends, etc. You should be focused 100% on them and give them your undivided attention.

5.     Practice Effective Parenting

When it comes to reducing the effects of divorce on children, there are two major aspects you need to think about. First of all, you should constantly let them know how much they are loved. Even if they don’t reciprocate or aren’t open with their emotions, it’s important to make them feel loved at all times. Since divorce can be highly stressful and emotional, they need reassurance from you that they are and will always be loved.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you can’t let go of discipline. Some parents feel so much guilt for what their children is going through that they let them get away with anything and everything. This isn’t a good tactic and can do more harm than good. When kids are under stress, they may act out in a number of different ways and you may find discipline confusing, especially if you and your ex have different ways of parenting. But it’s important to keep your discipline strong. Your kids will respect you more in the long run and they won’t be as likely to act out. Playing good cop all the time can lead to more trouble than it’s worth.

6.     Check in with Them About the Divorce 

Don’t ignore the fact that the divorce happened, even if it’s tough for you to talk about with your kids. You should be checking in with them to see how they’re handling the separation. If they bottle up their feelings, you never know what kind of psychological or emotional toll it may be taking. Set time aside to ask them questions and listen to their concerns about the changes in their lives.

Some children benefit from counseling during a divorce, and if this is something your child needs, they need to know they have your support in talking to a counselor. If you don’t check in with them about the divorce, you risk them suppressing their feelings, which could lead to them acting out, or further feelings of stress and anxiety.

 

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How To Escape From A Really Bad Date The Best and Worst Survival Techniques for Lousy Match Ups

How To Escape From A Really Bad Date The Best and Worst Survival Techniques for Lousy Match Ups

Escaping from a bad date is no laughing matter. Mostly. Some first dates are so horrible they make for a great story later, if you can just make it out intact to tell the tale.

Step 1:  Assess The Severity of the Situation

Before pulling the proverbial fire alarm to escape from a bad date, assess the situation. Are you over reacting?  Is the fact that she owns 14 cats and has spent the last 42 arduous minutes sharing pictures and describing their personality traits truly a deal breaker for you? So what if she not-so-absentmindedly doodled her first name with your last name on the cocktail napkin before the appetizers arrived. That’s no real reason to panic, right?  

Step 2:  Try to Salvage What’s Left of the Date

Escaping from a bad date may not be necessary if the situation is, in fact, salvageable.  Many a good relationship starts off with funny stories of misunderstandings and a lopsided interest.  Yours would neither be the first nor the last date to begin awkwardly only to find magic as the night went on, so can you turn things around? Maybe an accidental water spill on her cat pictures is all that is necessary to change the subject. Consider it a blessing and discuss your mutual interest in sailing around the world, where the cats can’t possibly join you.

Step 2.1: If Necessary –  ESCAPE

Let’s face the cold, hard facts. The two of you are wholly incompatible. A moment more spent in this insufferable situation is time that could be better spent picking up your dry cleaning, walking your dog, or picking lint from your belly button.

In short, escaping from this date is your only option. When you feel the need to flee as though the future of the free world depends on it, it’s time. As it stands, you have several options.

Bad Date Escape Options

The best technique for escaping any given bad date will depend upon your personal style, and your assessment of the situation. Review the following and choose wisely. 

The Cowardly Lion

Escaping from a terrible date is as easy as walking out the door.  Some call it “going ghost”.  Other’s call it “the backdoor boogie”.  In this case, we will refer to it as The Cowardly Lion. In essence, when escaping from a bad date – your first and most natural reaction is often to bail, leave, duck out. Zero explanation. Zero confrontation. After all, couldn’t she see you yawning through your teeth? Your eyes glazing over?  It’s okay to take a runner out to the parking lot when every attempt to change the subject and salvage the conversation was made, right? 

Perhaps. 

Just know The Cowardly Lion is the least preferable of all ways to escape from a bad date. Even if she is clueless and the chemistry nonexistent, this method of escape should be reserved for the most extreme cases, which hopefully means never. 

The Alibi

Your second alternative for escaping from a bad date requires a bit of premeditation to maintain an air of authenticity. Similar to buying trip insurance, establishing an alibi provides you with legitimate backup should you need a reason to leave. Only a slight step higher on the authenticity scale than The Cowardly Lion, The Alibi involves a bit of engineering.  At a preset time, your friend/plant-sitter/plumber/stockbroker calls. Excuse yourself from within earshot, yet not visibility, and take the call. In the event you need to escape the date, the alibi kicks in.  Feign surprise, but don’t overdo it.  Your body language should convey shock and dismay, not national disaster.  

The secret to a successful Alibi is in the swiftness with which the departure must be carried out. A skilled Alibi consists of one solid motion from the moment you hang up the phone, to your harried explanation, continuing through the hug, the thanking her for her time, the paying of the check, the hefty tipping for stiffing the waiter out of a full seating, and on through a fluid departure out the door.   It’s like a run-on sentence, keep moving and take no breaths allowing anyone else a word in edgewise until you are a safe distance to, or better yet, in your car.

The Double-Booking

Your third option for escaping a bad date is like the Alibi’s second cousin… related, sort of look alike and yet rarely seen together. The Double-Booking is prearranged in the same manner as The Alibi, however instead of blaming your rapid and non-negotiable exit on something borderline catastrophic, you’re blaming it on a scheduling error. This works particularly well if you have children as you didn’t realize it was your fictitious night to drive the evening carpool. Gotta run! Sorry, the car will be full and it will take me hours to get everyone home, greatmeetingyoubye! As you run out the door. 

If you don’t have kids, no worries.  Any occasion will do. You forgot you promised your aunt a night out on the town.  You swore to your boss you would let out her dog.  You totally forgot you had an appointment to get your appendix removed. At 8:47 pm. On a Thursday night. In a snowstorm. Chat soon, bye! 

The Flare-Up 

The Flare-Up is fairly easy to pull off, all things considered.  Escaping from a bad date using the flare-up requires no premeditated phone call, no alibi, and no outwardly visible physical symptoms either. A flare-up can strike at will and when necessary. A flare-up could be something as simple as a severe stomachache rendering you the world’s largest drag to be around. It could also be an old back injury, or some other phantom pain that allows you to beg off the evening’s festivities in a timely fashion. The Flare-Up is the Switzerland of reasons to leave a date, it’s a neutral territory where private matters are treated with discretion. One should exercise caution, however, as overdoing the Flare-Up could backfire leaving you with an overly attentive date that refuses to leave you without medical care. 

The Catastrophe

Use of the Catastrophe to escape a sucky date is neither for the weak of heart nor the superstitious. If you are feigning an accident, a sudden illness or claiming that your kitten is trapped in a tree you’d better have the acting chops to pull off a convincing delivery.  Furthermore, watch your karmic back on this, as it may be poetic justice if you get home, crack a beer and relax ,on the sofa only to find your precious Mittens is, in fact, out on a limb. 

The Honest Abe

The Honest Abe approach is the antithesis to The Catastrophe when escaping a rotten date.  Hands down, however, The Honest Abe is the most courageous. If things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt the date just isn’t salvageable, it takes a courageous man to simply say so. And it takes an honorable man to take ownership of the mismatch, even if it was her idea to surprise you with skydiving not understanding you are afraid of heights.

The Honest Abe approach is very calm and non-accusatory. It simply lets you both off the hook of what was surely a painful experience and saves any awkwardness later. There will obviously be no good night kiss.  A polite hug with two pats on the back is stretching it.

Should you assess, salvage and still need to escape from a date, a clumsy handshake and a moment or two of awkwardness is the pricetag for the remainder of the evening being yours to do with as you wish. Maybe you’ll head home, hop online and find the woman whose conversation flows freely with yours.  Where there is no effort and the only misunderstanding you share is who went on more awkward dates than the other before you finally met. 

Godspeed my friend.

 

Tell us about your worst dates and how you survived in the comments below.

 

Safety first.

Share these survival tips on your social media.


(c) Can Stock Photo / mikdam

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Divorced Dads – Cook For Your Kids: Part 3 Chicken Parmesan is the Key to a New Universe

Divorced Dads – Cook For Your Kids: Part 3 Chicken Parmesan is the Key to a New Universe

So by now, you like many of the divorced dads out there should have tackled chicken, but you want to do something a little more impressive when you cook for your kids than just perfectly cooked meat.

That’s boring, right? Where’s the wow factor? How do we bring it up a level? I’m here to help.

Hold on to your butt, because you’re about to make chicken parmesan, and the techniques you learn here will open up even more possibilities for you down the road. Let’s begin.

Chicken Parmesan

What you’ll need: 3 pie pans, one baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper)

  • 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast (or more if cooking for your kids)
  • 1-1 ½ cup panko bread crumbs (more for kids)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water, beaten
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (heaping for kids)
  • Dry basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cloves freshly minced garlic (or garlic powder if you must)
  • Fry pan on medium heat
  • ½ cup or more extra light olive oil
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (whatever you like is fine)
  • Thin spaghetti
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and laying the chicken breast on your cutting board and making sure it’s nice and flat (do not pound it!). Take a fillet knife and, keeping it parallel to the board, gently slice the chicken down its length, keeping the two pieces as equally thick as possible. Congratulations, you have learned butterflying! (Normally, the two halves would be attached on one side, but this is not especially helpful to us, so skip it,)

Lay out your breading ingredients in the 3 pie tins (or bag + whatever combination) and put half of the minced garlic into the egg wash. Salt and pepper both sides of each piece, sprinkle on some dry basil and cover with cornstarch, making sure to get in every crevice. If you’re using a pie pan, this can get messy, so I’d recommend the bag method. You can put both pieces in at once. Shake off any excess and move each piece one at a time to the egg wash you made, coating thoroughly. Now it’s time to cover the eggy chicken in the bread crumbs and get ready to fry.

Make sure to give the oil plenty of time to heat up. This is important, because the oil is supposed to be a heat conductor, not an ingredient and if it’s not hot enough, it’s going to soak into the breading and you’ll end up with greasy breadcrumbs. Not cool. Medium heat or just above is perfect for this application. Just make sure to pay attention when you put in the chicken, as the browning will happen fast. You’re looking for the same golden brown you see in the fast food commercials and it happens pretty quick. Flip with tongs (or a spatula if you don’t care about splash back) and once the other side is browned, remove to your sheet pan.

Just make sure to pay attention when you put in the chicken, as the browning will happen fast. You’re looking for the same golden brown you see in the fast food commercials and it happens pretty quick. Flip with tongs (or a spatula if you don’t care about splash back) and once the other side is browned, remove to your sheet pan.

Now it’s time for cheese. For best results, you’ll want to use fresh-grated parmesan, but bagged will do okay. Believe it or not, the best grate I’ve gotten for this recipe is with a lemon zester (one of those long ones you see in the cookware aisle). It comes off really fine and melts beautifully. Pile it on high, over as much of the chicken pieces as you can, cause it’ll melt down like crazy. You can sprinkle on some fresh herbs if you like at this point. The moisture from the cheese will prevent burning. Place the chicken in the oven and attend to the sauce and pasta.

Pile it on high, over as much of the chicken pieces as you can, cause it’ll melt down like crazy. You can sprinkle on some fresh herbs if you like at this point. The moisture from the cheese will prevent burning. Place the chicken in the oven and attend to the sauce and pasta.

Spaghetti Is A No Brainer to Cook For Your Kids

Thin spaghetti cooks quicker than you think it will pretty much every time, so the best way to manage the stuff is to make sure your pot is just coming to a light boil by the time you put the chicken in the oven. At this point, throw in a couple of heavy pinches of salt (just barely more than you think you need) and it’ll be ready to go by the time your hands are free again. Stick the pasta in (if you’re cooking for kids, this would be the best point to break up the noodles) and if you’ve got a timer, set it for 7 minutes. When the pasta is ready to check, just taste it. No throwing against the wall. That’s over, you’re a grown up now. Drain when ready and replace in

Stick the pasta in (if you’re cooking for kids, this would be the best point to break up the noodles) and if you’ve got a timer, set it for 7 minutes. When the pasta is ready to check, just taste it. No throwing against the wall. That’s over, you’re a grown up now.

Drain when ready and replace in the pot,  off the heat. By now your sauce should be ready too, so turn the heat off on that.

Pull the chicken out of the oven and get ready to plate.

Ways to Change It Up

There are many, just barely different interpretations of chicken parmesan. Some use mozzarella, some require covering the chicken in sauce before you put the cheese on. This method is designed for efficiency in a kid-friendly kitchen. When you plate, you’ll see why. Start by spicing up the pasta. A little extra virgin olive oil, some fresh herbs, the rest of the garlic and toss. Plate that up on one side of the plate and on the other, put the sauce in a pool (mind you’ a very shallow one). Next, slice the chicken. Bite sized pieces for kids. Even, long slices for um, anybody else. ( You can cook for your kids – and ggrown-up guests, too.) Lay the pieces on the sauce, sprinkle with some extra parmesan and serve the awesomeness.

When you plate, you’ll see why. Start by spicing up the pasta. A little extra virgin olive oil, some fresh herbs, the rest of the garlic and toss. Plate that up on one side of the plate and on the other, put the sauce in a pool (mind you’ a very shallow one). Next, slice the chicken. Bite sized pieces for kids. Even, long slices for, um, anybody else. Lay the pieces on the sauce, sprinkle with some extra parmesan and serve the awesomeness.

You’re Now A Cooking Rock Star

Now that you know how to do this, you know how to make a whole bunch of other things. This was the big one to cook for your kids, the one that leads to all the others. You can now replace seasonings and make chicken strips, chicken nuggets, use Asian seasonings and sauces to make any number of dishes with noodles, rice or vegetables. You can use this breading method for fish

You can now replace seasonings and make chicken strips, chicken nuggets, use Asian seasonings and sauces to make any number of dishes with noodles, rice or vegetables. You can use this breading method for fish

You can use this breading method for fish, too, if that’s your thing. Frying chicken is an essential skill when you have kids. You have to learn this,

Frying chicken is an essential skill when you have kids. You have to learn this, because frozen nuggets, while fine, are not what your kids will remember or (ahem), anybody else for that matter. The versatility of breaded and fried chicken is legendary, as I’m sure you know.

Now you know how to do it yourself. So go nuts! Try everything from soy sauce marinade to breading and frying vegetables (watch the kids try turning up their noses at that!). You learned this recipe to unlock all the other recipes, so go explore.


(c) Can Stock Photo / GeorgeRudy

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Maximizing Visitation with Free Summer Activities Fun Stuff That Works for Kids of All Ages

Maximizing Visitation with Free Summer Activities Fun Stuff That Works for Kids of All Ages

With summer right around the corner, you’ve probably already negotiated how long the kids are going to stay with you. Time to plan some summer activities for your clan.

Maybe they’re coming for several weeks, or maybe you’re sticking to the regular routine of weekends. Particularly if you’re sticking to a normal schedule, it’s easy to think that everything will stay the same. It won’t. When kids are on summer vacation they know it and they need to be entertained all the time. The problem is that entertainment can come with a hefty price tag.

The good news is that there are great summer activities you can plan with your kids that will be free (or at least very cheap) and will allow you to spend time together and create memories. Some of these take just a few hours while some could last a couple of days. Regardless of how much time you get to spend with your kids this summer, you don’t have to go bankrupt to have fun with them.

Go on a picnic.

Picnics are a summer classic. If you’ve got a few hours to spare then take a ball or a Frisbee with you and play some games after lunch. You can either make sandwiches at home beforehand, or go to the store on the way and pick up little snacks like fruit, cheese or chips. The beauty of a picnic is that you don’t all have to sit down for a set meal. Let the kids pick at the food as they’re running around. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll eat once they’ve worked up an appetite! A little tip: if you’re running errands and the kids get hungry, you can always suggest a picnic instead of taking them to a restaurant or fast food joint. Run into the store, grab some food and you can feed them a healthier, cheaper and more fun lunch.

Have a family sports day.

While you’re in the park, why not get the extended family involved. Invite cousins or grandparents to join you for a family sports day. Multi-generational sports are great for the kids and it’s always funny to see how competitive the adults can get!

Go camping.

Camping is always a fun one for kids (even if it’s just in the backyard). If you get the kids involved in pitching the tent and assign them each a job for the trip, they’ll love it. Maybe they can be in charge of keeping the tent area litter-free or they can be in charge of the dishes. They’ll also love that they can “cook” dinner by emptying a can of beans into a pan!

Create a park obstacle course.

For younger kids, visiting the park is entertainment enough. For older kids, it’s just so last year to be seen playing on the slide. If you’ve got one of each, go to the park anyway. Let the younger ones run around but create an obstacle course for the older ones. Something like this: run under the slide, around the baby play area twice, up the climbing wall, down the fireman pole on the other side, then back to the front gate. As soon as they set off, start your stop watch. I guarantee that they’ll keep trying to beat their time, and any siblings watching will probably want to be timed too!

Create a scavenger hunt.

If the weather isn’t cooperating for the outdoor activities, try doing something special at home. Kids love a little intrigue so create a scavenger hunt for them. You don’t need to buy anything special as a prize. You could end it in the freezer and let them have some ice-cream, or give them each a homemade coupon for 30-minutes of video games with dad.

Make slime.

Kids love slime. Not all parents do, but kids adore it! Instead of driving to the toy store and buying some, why not make it at home? There are countless recipes for homemade slime and almost all use ingredients that you have at home anyway. Making your own is a great way to spend time with the kids and potentially spark an interest in science.

Bake or cook as a family.

Lots of kids enjoy baking or cooking. It’s fun for them to see how all the ingredients come together and react to make a cake or to be able to sit down for dinner and know that they were instrumental in making it happen. The key to cooking with kids is to let them take the lead. I’m not saying they should have access to sharp knives or anything, but they need to be allowed to take charge. If you’re a perfectionist, prepare for the fact that it will be messy and might go wrong. Your child might not understand how much is in a pinch of salt. That’s okay. If the meal turns out to be disgusting, laugh about it and try again the next day. This is one of those activities that’s more about the process than the result.

Write letters to out-of-town family or friends.

If you live away from the rest of your family, write them letters. Older kids will enjoy telling their grandparents, or uncles, all about how they’re spending their summer with you, and younger ones can draw pictures to be included. If you write to adults, you can bet they’re going to write back. Especially grandparents!

Attend free admission days in your city.

Most cities understand the plight of the summer-weary parent so they put on free admission days. If you google “free admission [your city]” you’ll be amazed at how many things are available. Sometimes the zoo or a local museum will offer free admission on a specific weekday, but sometimes they do special events on weekends too. It’s definitely worth spending a bit of time online before the kids arrive so you can get to grips with what’s out there. A word of caution: a lot of museums now make you exit through the gift shop. Before you go in, explain to your children that you won’t be buying anything in the gift shop, or give them a pre-determined limit of $5 to spend in there. Make your expectations clear before you enter the museum, so that you won’t have to deal with the begging and sad faces at the end.

Put on a play or make a video.

This is a great activity for a rainy day. If you’ve got more than one child, or your children have some friends over, encourage them to put on a play or create a dance routine. It’ll take them a good few hours to get it exactly the way they want it and when they come to present it to you, record them on your phone. You’ll have a keepsake of the day and the kids will love watching themselves.

Look up outdoor movies or festivals.

Most cities have some form of outdoor activity schedule for the summer. Sometimes it’s food or culture festivals on a Saturday afternoon, but it could be an outdoor movie in the park or a family friendly concert. Again, spend some time online researching what’s in your city so you can plan ahead. Many of these events are free, but you might have to get tickets so finding out about them early in the summer will help.

Put away your wallet and enjoy summer activities with your kids.

These are just a few ideas of free summer activities to get you started. The possibilities are endless. The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to break the bank to give your kids a fun, exciting experience this summer. If you’ve got other suggestions, leave us a comment below.

 

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(c) Can Stock Photo / HandyArt

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