It’s like a punch in the gut. A punch in the gut EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. For the most part, that’s what it’s like when your ex moves on. It can be indescribably painful to see her smiling face as she wraps her arms around another man.
You know that you should be happy for her and tell the kids how wonderful it is that Mommy has found someone that makes her so happy. Yipee!
You also know that what you really want to do is wallow in your anger, jealousy and/or resentment.
But what should you do?
Acknowledge That Your Ex Has Moved On
You aren’t the only one hurting at this stage.
Your ex moving on is hard on everybody involved – including her. As you try to come to terms with her new relationship, she may be struggling to figure out how to keep everybody happy.
- She needs to be strong for the kids,
- She needs to navigate a brand new relationship, and
- There’s a strong chance she’s worried about how you’re taking this new development
Your children are the other player likely to be hurt or confused, lest you forget. If you have kids with your ex, you need to work insanely hard to put on a happy face. I’m not suggesting you tell them that everything is fine and life is all sunshine and puppies. But you can’t let them see how much this new relationship is affecting you. Be strong, if only for the kids’ sake.
So, now that we have established that the ex moving on is not entirely about you, let’s take a look at what you can do to make it through this process with your dignity intact.
You Split Up for a Reason
Consider this – you split up for a reason right? So why does it matter that shehas found someone else?
Maybe it was a mutual decision to divorce. Maybe you left her. Maybe she left you. Whatever the case, there is a reason that you are not together.
If it was a mutual split or if you left her, there must have been a reason. You don’t love her anymore. You may not even like her anymore.
So why is it killing you that she has someone else now? After all, you didn’t want her anymore.
When your ex moves on, it’s not entirely about you.
I know, I know, there’s the whole “Just because I don’t want her doesn’t mean I want anybody else to have her,” but please tell me that you can hear how crazy that sounds.
Maybe you’re in the third group, though. Maybe she left you. This is probably the most difficult group to be in when it comes to your ex moving on.
There isn’t much wisdom I can offer here but I just have one question for you: Do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?
I think if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll say no. You deserve someone who wants you – someone who laughs at your jokes, someone who enjoys your company, someone who doesn’t find your most annoying habits all that annoying. You deserve a woman who loves you, so let the one who didn’t move on to the next guy.
Still not convinced? Let me ask you one more question.
Do You Really Want Her Life?
This is an extremely valuable question to ask yourself any time you feel the Jealously Monster approaching.
Do you really want your ex’s life? Or in this case, do you really want to be your former wife’s new partner?
Really think about it.
If you had their life would you be happy? You’d be going back to living with her. Remember all the little things about her that drove you crazy and caused you to grow apart? Those things would all still be there.
Since the split, you may have been looking back on your relationship through rose-colored lenses but your time together was far from perfect. If it had been that great, you’d still be together.
I promise that if you really think about it, if you consider what you want from life, what the ex wants from life, and think honestly about your relationship you’ll see that actually you don’t want her new life.
You may well want a relationship, just not with her9. After all, if she has moved on maybe you should too.
A word of warning: You should not be moving on simply to prove to her that she is replaceable. This new adventure is for you and you alone. Only start this process if you are genuinely invested in self-development and exploring new relationships.
How to Move On (The Right Way!)
Moving on is not a matter of getting yourself down to the corner bar and buying a drink for the pretty girl across the room. If you do this without any prior self-reflection, you are most likely going to end up right back where you started. Alone.
If you don’t want to end up with another failed relationship behind you there are a couple of things you need to take the time to understand. From experience, I can tell you that these are easier to figure out if you are not in a relationship of any kind.
This is the first thing you need to figure out. I’m sorry to say that nobody can do this work for you. You alone are the leading authority on what you want out of life.
Do you want more children? Are you willing to date a woman with children? Do you want to re-marry? Do you want to live with a woman again or keep separate houses? What are your career goals? Do you want to travel?
The answer to this question tends to come out as your deciding what you want.
So often in relationships, we begin to define ourselves by our partners. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to understand that before there was a we, there was just you.
So who are you? What do you want? What are you passionate about? What is your dream?
If you want your next romantic relationship to be successful, you need to understand your relationship with yourself first. Once you know who you are and what you want you will find that your relationships are more successful in every respect.
So What do You do When the Ex Moves On?
Fake It ‘Till You Make It
The first thing you do is smile.
Every time you see them together or your children ask you about the new relationship, just smile. As cheesy as it sounds, if you do it often enough you may not grow to be happy for them exactly but you’ll certainly stop feeling the jealous sting.
Accept that this new reality is hard for everybody and acknowledge that realistically, you don’t even want her new life.
That’s the next step.
Finally, find out who you are.
Treat this as an amazing opportunity to experiment and try on different versions of yourself until you find the one that rings true.
What makes you tick? What do you want to do? What do you want from a relationship? Do you have any deal breakers?
Once you find the answers to these questions you drastically reduce your chances of another divorce. When you know what you want from life, and what you’re willing to sacrifice, you can find the woman who’s own desires fit nicely with yours.
If you take the time to get to know yourself, you’ll find that a lot of women want to get to know you too.
I am indeed hopelessly single. Hear now my dating rant. Today was a rough day. I exhausted myself to tears trying to deny the fact that it was actually over. Remind me to never set my heart on anything again. Well, no, not really. Although it sure feels that way…
In Defense of Rebound Relationships What They Are and How to Get What You Want from Them What I’m about to say could cost my Lady Card. It’s on par with the type of blasphemous behavior that'll get your buddies revoke your Man Card. Committing high treason against all womankind…
Co-Existing With My Much Older Boyfriend's Ex-Wife Six Strategies That Helped Me Learn to Be Comfortable in My Own Skin We all struggle with acceptance at some point in our lives. No matter how tall, strong, smart, or witty we are, there's always someone bigger, stronger, smarter, and funnier. Equipped…
Navigating school as a divorced couple can be tricky but here are some back to school tips to ease you into it.
School has traditionally been mom’s territory, but it doesn’t have to be. And frankly, it shouldn’t be. During a divorce, some mothers use school as a way to keep dad at arm’s length. Others naturally take over and don’t realize that they’re shutting dad out. This year, use our list of back to school tips for dads to plan how you’re going to participate in your kids’ education. It’s important for their academic success but also for your relationship together.
Check the school calendar regularly.
Most schools publish a monthly calendar on their website. This will include things like assemblies, concerts, standardized testing dates, and sports schedules. More and more schools are also getting on social media to keep parents up to date on schedule changes.
Make sure that you are regularly checking the kid’s school calendar and following the school on social media. If you have a good relationship with your ex, you’ll probably hear about everything from her anyway, but if you have a strained relationship, the calendar may be your only link to the kid’s life at school.
Don’t forget there are other calendars, too. Kids will probably get a calendar for each grade as well as a soccer calendar, a band calendar, etc. Wherever possible, check with your ex to make sure you’re getting an up to date copy of each.
Keep your own calendar.
Between work, the kids and the divorce you’re a busy guy. Keep a calendar at home where you make a note of what the kids are up to. This will help you navigate the sea of after school activities and will gradually help you see the kids’ routines. It’s critical that you have your own calendar so that you don’t forget anything. If you’ve said you’re going to next month’s basketball game, write it down now, so you don’t forget. A no show is bad enough when you live with your kids full time, imagine how it makes them feel when they don’t see you that often.
Attend open night and meet the teachers.
At the beginning of every school year, there’s an open night for you to meet your kid’s teachers and find out what lies ahead for the year. If at all possible, you should go. Ideally, you and your ex will be happy to attend together but if not, tell her that you want to attend. If she refuses, contact the school and ask for the contact details for each teacher. Explain that you are unable to attend with your ex-wife but are interested in what they’ll be sharing. Maybe you can set up a separate time to meet the teachers, or they can just email you a copy of the handouts they’ll be giving the other parents. Either way, it gives you a chance to get to know the teachers and show your ex that you will be involved, even if she makes it more difficult than it has to be.
Ask for extra handouts.
If your ex is being difficult, it’s worth asking the teachers for extra handouts. Explain that you are a divorced couple and ask if they can please send home duplicates of everything in your children’s folder. That way your kids can give one to mom and one to you. The teacher may not be able to do it, but it’s worth asking.
Schedule homework time – always.
It’s no secret that kids need routine. Whether they are in the terrible two stage or the terrible teen stage, they need routine. If you only get the kids for a few days over the weekend, it can be tempting to avoid homework. Nobody wants to do it, it’s time-consuming, and it usually leads to an argument or two. Why bother with it when you can leave it for mom to deal with? Because it’s good for your kids. Sorry but it’s true.
Part of being involved in your kid’s education is doing homework with them. Show them that you care about their success and you want to help in any way you can. Saturday mornings are usually good for homework because it gets it out of the way. There’s too much excitement on Friday because it’s finally time to see dad and Sunday is precious because it’s just before they go home so do it on Saturday. Then it’s out of the way, and Sunday can be fun! Of course, this may not work with your schedule, but you’ll be able to find a time that does. Wherever possible, stick to the same time each week.
Be involved in studying.
It’s so easy to send kids off to their rooms to study. “You have a test tomorrow, go study for at least an hour.” What if you could get the same result in half the time? The only catch is that you have to be involved.
Instead of banishing your kid to another room where he doesn’t want to be, make time to study with him. If you’re studying for science or history, ask what the test is going to cover. Your child telling you about the content is helping them study it. Then ask them to read over their notes for 10-15 minutes. Once they’ve done that, you take the notebook quiz them over the content. Rinse and repeat as necessary. If your kids are preparing for longer tests, help them make flash cards. That way you can use the flash cards to study together, but they can also use them to study alone.
Talk to your ex.
This is not going to be an attractive option for some of you, but it’s critical that you talk to kid’s mom. If she knows that you want to be involved, she’ll eventually have to let you in. It might take time, but by being a constant presence, you’ ll begin to wear her down. Slowly your ex will begin to see that you aren’t just saying you want to be involved, you’re actually doing it. She can’t resent that, no matter how hard she tries.
It’s also critical that you speak to each other about exam schedules, field trips, finances and parent-teacher conferences. You are a father, and you are just as entitled to be a part of your child’s education as she is.
Talk to the kids.
It’s easy to say, go to every soccer game and band recital. It’s a lot harder actually to do it, especially when you’re busy trying to earn enough to pay child support, pay the rent and have something left for food. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t make it to each event, but you do have to remember them. If you know your kid has a science test on Tuesday, set a reminder to call him on Monday night. Just that simple act will mean the world to your kids and it tells them how invested you are in their success.
The best of our back to school tips: Just be there.
The biggest back to school tip for divorced dads is this: just be there. You won’t always be there in person, but you can make sure your children know tha t you are always there for them. Let your kids know why you’re invested in their education and want to be involved. Let them know why you think it’s so important that they study and try their best on the baseball field. Let them know that you love them unconditionally. That’s the best way to stay involved.
Help a Dad out. Share these back to school tips on your social media.
(c) Can Stock Photo / vystekphotography
As a mother of seven, I've developed my own unique way of raising kids. It didn't come to me overnight, and I certainly didn't learn it from a guru or pick it up from a book. Sixteen years of raising babies, kissing boo-boos, and wiping booties taught me how to…
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…
It’s resolution season. Everyone is working on losing the extra pounds they picked up over the holidays, or quitting whatever vice they failed to quit in 2016. As a divorced dad, my resolution is simple. I want to be a great dad. I'm sure that as you read those words…
The idea seems to be that manly self-sufficiency is desirable, and when it comes to divorce a real man can easily go it alone. But guess what? That’s total crap! No matter how strong you think you are, you should not try to survive your divorce alone. Nobody can be that self-sufficient. During a divorce, you need your friends more than ever.
If you mention divorce, people cringe. It is universally acknowledged as an awful time in any man’s life. Through the movies, we’ve been told that women going through a divorce get together with their friends, drink wine and complain about their ex-husbands. We rarely see anything about men.
You’re not as strong as you think you are.
Sorry to break it to you but you’re not as strong as you think you are. Don’t get me wrong, you’re a great man, but ultimately you’re also human. Divorce is exhausting and takes you to the very edge of your limits. Why on earth would you try to survive that on your own?
Humans are social creatures.
Ultimately, we are social creatures. Men (and women) were not made to live in isolation. As John Donne famously said, “no man is an island.” And that applies to you too! Throughout your life, you have probably made and lost friends, but you have always been part of a group. Whether on a sports team in elementary school or as part of a team at work, you have always been surrounded by people. Why change that now that you need them most?
It’s healthy to vent.
Do you know why movies always show women drinking wine and venting about their ex-husbands? Because it’s good for you. Holding every bit of anger, resentment, fear, and stress inside you is a recipe for disaster.
Think of a volcano, everything is gently bubbling away until one day, seemingly out of nowhere, it erupts. Instead of trying to go it alone all the time, talk to your friends or family. Let them know what’s bothering you. Explain how frustrated or angry you are. You’ll feel better.
People want to help.
In the same way that humans are made to live in a community, we thrive on helping each other. Friendships function through shared experience, mutual respect and a desire to support each other. Your friends want to help you, but they can’t do that unless you tell them something is wrong.
One tip though: venting is good, wallowing is bad. Confide in your friends and let them be there for you but don’t become the guy who can’t talk about anything but his divorce. Nobody likes that guy. Instead, do your venting then ask about their lives.
Friends can lend some much-needed perspective.
You know the guy who can’t talk about anything but his divorce? He’s lost perspective. He’s the guy that needs friends the most. When we’re deeply entrenched in the situation, it’s so hard to maintain perspective. Suddenly you become convinced that everything your ex does is aimed at you. Everything is an attack, and nothing is ever a coincidence. How could it be when she’s out to get you? This may sound ridiculous, but it’s happened a lot more often that you might think.
You’re used to living in partnership.
If you’re going through a divorce, it’s no secret that you’ve just come out of a partnership. Whether it lasted for two months or 25 years, it’s a partnership. You became accustomed to sharing your life with somebody else. To go from sharing your entire life with someone to isolated self-sufficiency is crazy difficult. Add on to that trying to go it alone, and you’re making your life almost impossible before you’ve even started.
You need to relax.
Any divorce is stressful. Even the ones that seem to be going well are extremely stressful. Making time for friends will help you get through it. When you’re alone, it’s hard to relax. You might put on a movie or go to the gym, but with nobody to distract you, it’s all too easy to start thinking about your ex or your kids. What are they doing now? Was divorce the right decision? Has she moved on? When can you move on? It’s a never-ending cycle of questions that you will never escape as long as you’re by yourself. Friends are great at helping you relax because they pull you out of that cycle and let you be your old self for a few hours.
Being “on” is exhausting.
When you’re tired, stressed and sad on the inside, it’s exhausting to be happy-go-lucky on the outside. Maintaining that façade for a day or two seems doable, but as your divorce drags on, the weight of pretending will begin to take its toll. Now you’ve got a double whammy – stress and exhaustion from the divorce itself and stress and exhaustion from trying to pretend that everything is okay. Who on earth would choose that?
Self-sufficiency is lonely.
It’s sad to be lonely, but it’s also bad for your health. In fact, loneliness can be worse for you than obesity. Again, we are built to be social creatures and live in a community. We are not built to be alone. Now more than ever people think that they’re never alone because of social media but they’re wrong.
If anything, social media makes us feel more alone. The lives that we portray on Facebook and Instagram are usually doctored. The fact that we now have to write #nofilter to say our photos are natural gives you a sense of how artificial the whole world of social media has become. During a divorce, it’s especially important that you put down the smart phone and see people face to face.
The longer you’re alone, the harder it is to come back.
This one is true on two levels. For you, it’s hard to make an effort to get out when you’ve become accustomed to your self-sufficient lifestyle. For your friends, it’s hard to take you seriously when you want to hang out if they haven’t seen you for months. Just like you, your friends want to be wanted. Nobody wants to hang out with the guy that’s been blowing them off for months, even if you’re intentions were noble.
You are not a burden.
The simple truth is that you aren’t a burden. Your friends are interested in helping you get through this difficult phase, and whether you can see it or not, you need that help. You think that by being self-sufficient you’re mastering the divorce game and you’re being the greatest friend ever. You are the guy who has survived the collapse of a marriage without imploding yourself. Expect you haven’t. By choosing self-sufficiency and not taking advantage of the community you’ve built, you’re only delaying the inevitable eruption.
If you want to be the man everybody thinks you are, the man your children will look up to, then you have to be honest. Trying to be self-sufficient through divorce is not being honest. You have to rely on friends and family and open up about what you’re going through. It makes it easier to get through it, and it means you can hold your head up high. Give it a go and see what you think. It’ll make you a happier person in the long run.
Lots of guys are trying to get through divorce without help.
Share this article on your social media.
(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz
The question of whether you can continue being friends with your ex after divorce is one that continues to linger and has been the focus of several studies over the years. While I do have a personal bias against staying friends with your ex, the logical part of my mind…
Before you experienced divorce for yourself, you may have been under some false impressions about divorced men. Maybe good. Maybe not. After all, the guy at work seemed to do just fine following his divorce last year. Truth be told, you were a little envious. He had a dating profile…
There’s no shortage of advice on how to recover from life after divorce. Even with all the information available, the experts often overlook one crucial thing—divorce offers positive opportunities and aspects. As with anything, you have to take the bad with the good, but make no mistake, there is plenty…
Just like the seasons cycle through each year and bring new and exciting changes, we can create seasons in our lives. This summer season is the perfect time to start. With the beginning of the summer upon us, with its vitality and new growth, it’s the perfect time to seize the opportunity to ramp up your life after divorce.
Why Summer is Prime Time
There is something amazing about summer. Whether you get to take time off or not, you will always think about how you spent summers in your childhood. With the sun shining and everybody walking around in shorts and flip flops, it’s hard not to be happy. Particularly if you have kids, their enthusiasm for summer is contagious. So what better time to start the new season of your life?
Summer has a well-defined beginning and end but is long enough that you can make great strides in redesigning your life. From Memorial Day to Labor Day you’ve got 15 weeks to experiment with life after divorce. Even the doctor says you should do it! Dr. Kurt Smith, Clinical Director at Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, argues that picking up a new hobby can have countless benefits including lowering stress and increasing happiness.
Summer Season Goals for Success
Everybody has a different goal when they begin a new season in their lives. For some, it’s about settling on a new career path and for others it’s about improving family relationships. For you, it may be about learning to enjoy life after divorce. Sounds simple enough but how on earth do you go about doing that? There are a million and one different ways. Here a few for you to consider.
Lose Weight and Get Fit
Maybe your staple dinner of beer and pizza is beginning to take effect, or maybe you’re coming around to the idea that heart health really is important. Whichever is true for you, the summer season is a great time to get fit and/or lose weight.
Gyms can be hugely intimidating for a lot of guys but in the summer, you don’t need to bother with one. Avoid all the Hulk-esque body builders and instead opt for some time outdoors. The fresh air will do you good and the exercise will make you feel great (after you get over the aching part).
Most towns and cities have boot camp classes in local parks as well as adult recreational sports leagues. If you’re even remotely interested in getting fit, look into these programs. A quick google search is all you need to get started.
You might feel intimidated but you really shouldn’t. Boot camp is a hyped term for a (mostly) fun activity. The classes give you an opportunity to challenge yourself, but remember, you are choosing to be there. If you really feel like dying, you’re allowed to stop. You are in charge!
Likewise, it can be frightening to join a sports team when you haven’t competed since high school. Don’t panic. You aren’t signing up for Olympic trials. I once participated in a local soccer league playing for a team called Happy Hour. After every game we had a post-match beer to celebrate (wins or lose, there was cause to celebrate). There’s nothing intimidating about that.
The hardest part of getting fit is choosing to start. Get online, look around and send that introductory email or make a call. You won’t regret it.
Learn a New Skill
If sports aren’t your thing, figure out what is. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano or you’re guilty pleasure is Dancing with the Stars. This summer is the time to stop day dreaming and start practicing. Adults are no less capable than children of learning new skills, we just think we are. Trying to learn something new as a grown up is almost entirely mind over matter. Particularly if you’ve got a successful career, it can be scary to be a novice at something. But guess what? Everybody starts somewhere.
Again, get online and look around to see what’s in your area. The opportunities are endless: pottery, music, acting, dancing, language classes, cooking classes, anything! Dancing can be a good one for single guys. You may think you need a partner to sign up but you’d be wrong. Most studios have more women than men so as a guy you’d get double the practice for your class fee!
Meet New People
As you’ve probably noticed, all of these activities for your new season involve you getting out and meeting people. Kids on the playground have no problem running up to total strangers and saying, “Hi, do you want to be my friend?” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for adults.
Joining a sports team, volunteering for a local charity, taking a class or even joining a book club are great ways to meet people and make friends. In this day and age, you rarely meet someone at a bar or a coffee shop. People either go with friends or they sit on their computers or phones so there’s very little opportunity for organic connection. By getting out of the house and going to a pre-organized activity you can recreate the playground environment without having to be so upfront about wanting friends.
Make the Effort to Be Sociable
Developing a new hobby or skill is the first part of your new season. The next part is making an effort. After a divorce, it’s very easy to retreat into yourself and choose your own company over spending time with others. It’s easier but it’s not good for you.
Part of this new season is accepting invitations. Over the first few weeks of summer you will naturally build relationships through your new activities. You slowly get to know about people’s personal lives and they get to know about yours. Eventually, they’ll ask you to watch the game with them or go out for a meal. Accept these invitations. Even if you’re apprehensive or you think you might not enjoy it, accept them. You will probably enjoy yourself and if you don’t, you’ve only lost a couple of hours.
One of the best parts of summer is the good weather and the longer evenings. Days feel longer and you don’t mind staying out later on a weeknight. During this new season, make an effort to get outside, even if you’re not going anywhere in particular. You’d be amazed at what a short walk and a bit of fresh air and sunshine can do for your mood. The key to enjoying life after divorce is to smile. And how could you not smile when you’re walking around a park watching little kids playing tee-ball or seeing the utter joy a puppy gets from chasing a ball?
Here’s to the Next Season of Your Life
Summer is a paradox – the days feel endless and weeks crawl by but by the time Labor Day comes around, you wonder what happened to your summer. If you’re ready for a new season in your life, be deliberate. This week, make a list of everything you’ve ever wanted to try and pick a few things to dedicate yourself to this summer season. Any of your goals can be achieved through trying something new. You can make friends, become more outgoing, boost your self-confidence, learn to relax and many more. If you want to reconnect with old friends, invite them to a poker night or a camping trip.
Ultimately, you are in charge of your life. Enjoying life after divorce is entirely down to you and how you choose to approach it. Make this summer a season of positivity, growth and challenge and you can’t go far wrong.
Tell us about your plans for the summer in the comments below.
It’s never too late to seize a fresh start.
Share this article on your social media.
(c) Can Stock Photo / pressmaster
The question of whether you can continue being friends with your ex after divorce is one that continues to linger and has been the focus of several studies over the years. While I do have a personal bias against staying friends with your ex, the logical part of my mind…
It’s over. Finished. Your divorce is final. Now that it’s over, what are you going to do? Maybe you had pictured what life after divorce was going to be like, maybe you never thought about it until after the final decree was entered. Either way, now it’s time to face…
Dating after divorce, how do you know you're ready? Well for starters, the ink is dry. The actual divorce is final. That’s a great first step. Boxes have been packed. And unpacked again. Days are brighter and a weight has lifted. You’re settled into your new life. Routines have started…
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!
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.
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.
Share the fun on your social media.
(c) Can Stock Photo / HandyArt
Weekends and vacations are a dad’s time to shine. Unlike during the school week, it’s not all “Do your homework”, “Finish your chores” and “Eat your vegetables." Weekends and summer are a chance for inexpensive fun. Here are 11 ideas for summer fun that are long on creativity, but won’t…
This article was written by Teresa Virani, Co-Founder of coparently – a scheduling and communication tool for divorced and separated parents to organize & manage shared custody. Adjusting to co-parenting after divorce or separation is often a huge transition for dads. And when you haven’t been the primary caregiver before,…
Good news! It’s your weekend with the kids! Bad news. You also just paid all the bills, and you’re a Good Parent who keeps up on your support. (Right?) So, there you are. You’ve got the loves of your life there, and they are wanting to feel engaged, like their…