Divorce brings on an entire new life full of changes, some of those (less than desirable) changes, are less time with our children. In my case, 10 days a month and two weeks during the summer is all I get with my blessings, so I try to create memories to last a lifetime. If your children are in the teen or pre-teen age, as mine are, finding quality time together can sometimes be a challenge.
Grant, my typical teen boy, loves to try to zone out into video games. Dad’s house has far different rules than mom’s. I can’t afford cable, so the tv is not on very often. I have to run my internet through my cell provider, therefore limiting online activity due to data limits. Xbox and games which do not require internet on their tablets are pretty much Grant and Kristy’s only “plugged in” time at my house.
When it is cold out, we spend most of our time indoors. This can get very boring very fast in suburbia. Especially when there is a lot of time between visits to the farm. Sometimes we will throw a game in to play Kinect, and soon we are all giggling and sweating. You know the competition is getting fierce when we all run upstairs at some point for t-shirts and shorts.
When I first cancelled cable, I cringed thinking Grant and Kristy would no longer like to be at my house, but they adapted very well. Unless Grant is playing Xbox, the tv is off and the radio is on. Just having the tv off has provided so much more time to connect with Grant and Kristy than I could have ever imagined. We talk more, laugh more, and actually play cards and old board games.
I do miss Food Network and some other channels, but I can look up anything I need to online. Sometimes we all pile into my big king size bed with all of the animals and watch a movie. We have a new tradition of buying and cooking popcorn the old fashioned way, in a pan with butter. We have yet to perfect it, but have had some hysterical times with popcorn blowing the top off the pan and spilling all over the stove.
We have a local used movie store with a huge selection and movies that usually sell for around $3. We love to visit used book stores as well, when EVERYTHING is JUST TOOOOO BORING, MOM!!! And we need something new.
When it is warm out, I love to visit local parks with Grant and Kristy. Sometimes we will have a picnic, sometimes just hang out for as little as a half hour. I do not like sitting on the sidelines much, so I am usually chasing Kristy or playing follow the leader. This can be a pretty good workout.
We have a few state parks within an hour drive. It costs $5 a car load for a day of hiking and swimming in one of the lakes. (Just don’t ask Grant, Kristy or Bradley about canoeing when Dane and Bradley came for a visit. It was bad. So very bad.)
Dane dug us a fire pit in the backyard and we lined it with rocks brought home from the farm. It is nice to be able to have s’mores in our own backyard on a warm summer night.
Last fall, before our schedules became consumed with dance and basketball, we volunteered at a locally owned pet boarding and grooming salon. I chose this establishment for my little future veterinarian, so she can get pet lovin’ on pets that HAVE HOMES. I am too much of a sucker, obviously, for pets with no home, so I won’t even walk into a shelter to volunteer.
We made homemade dog biscuits, helping the workers so they could focus on other duties. Grant even had a good time volunteering. We fully intend to go back once our schedules settle a little.
Since “penniless” is an understatement for me at the moment, many of the things we do together are free. Quality time doesn’t have to cost anything. It can be as little as slowing down for a minute and having a good conversation. It can be as big as your imagination can carry. All it takes is an interest in letting our children know that above all the craziness, THEY are what is most important.