7 Essential Visitation Tips for Single Parent Families

Make Your Next Visit a Successful One

Establishing a regular parent-child visitation schedule is an important part of supporting your children's relationship with your ex. For help making the transition feel more comfortable for all of you, use these tried-and-true visitation tip: 

7 Essential Visitation Tips for Single Parent Families

Establish a regular visitation schedule and stick to it.

Dad and young son laughing together
Plan ahead for fun visits with your kids. Photo © Liam Norris/Getty Images

To your children, visitation may just be the highlight of their day or week. Make sure that these much anticipated visits take place by sticking to a regular visitation schedule. 

Take your child's age into consideration.

Children have different needs at different ages. Infants will need shorter, more frequent visits so that a healthy parent-child bond can be established. Older children may want to spend more time with their friends and school activities, which should be taken into consideration when making changes to the visitation schedule.

Plan ahead with things to do.

Have a variety of activities in mind when planning ahead for your next visit. Is there a park nearby where you could take a walk or play? Do you have a soccer ball in your trunk or garage that you could kick around together? Make sure that during your visits you spend time doing things together.

Stick to your child's routine.

Especially with young children, routines are vital. Try to keep your children's bedtimes and mealtimes consistent. This will not only make it easier for them to maintain their regular sleep schedule, but it will prevent unnecessary crankiness, too.

Be cordial with your ex.

During the exchange, make sure that you are pleasant with your ex and refuse to show your children any of the anger and frustration you may be feeling toward him or her. Not only will this be easier on the two of you as adults, but it will ensure that your child's visitation time isn't diminished by the need to calm down after a heated exchange.

Factor in any special circumstances.

There are times when circumstances such as supervised visits may interrupt your regular visitation schedule and introduce a level of discomfort to the time you're spending together. If this should happen, make every effort to be at ease with your children and behave as naturally as possible with them. This will help them to adjust more quickly to the new setting and allow all of you to get more enjoyment out of the visit.

Create consistency with your ex.

You certainly don't have to do everything exactly the same way! But you can create a sense of comfort and stability by intentionally adopting some shared habits. For example, if your child likes to read the same book before bed each night, make sure your ex has a copy and suggest that he or she build it into the bedtime routine. And if you're worried that your ex will balk at the idea just because you're suggesting it, try asking him or her to share something you can start to do at home, too. You might find that it breaks the ice just a tad, while that added bit of consistency also has the desired effect of making your kids feel secure.