Figuring out what to do during visitation time with your kids can be difficult. On the one hand, you don’t see your kids every day, so you want to do something fun with them, and you want them to associate their time with you with fun times and happy memories. On the other hand, you probably can’t afford to take your kids to a theme park for every visitation – and anyway, you don’t want to disrupt their routine or teach them to only associate you with special treats and trips – so you need to find fun activities that fit into an everyday routine and that won’t break the bank. Every parent, single or not, sometimes has difficulty coming up with ways to keep their child entertained. Take a look at some fun activities that should fit into any visitation schedule.
Everyone has to eat, so everyone should know how to cook. And cooking with kids can be a lot of fun both for you and for your kids. It’s also a lot more affordable than ordering pizza or takeout every time your kids come to visit. Let your kids pick out some child-size aprons and bring them into the kitchen to help you make a meal or even just a snack.
This is an activity that works for all ages. Even very young children can fill plastic measuring cups, fetch ingredients from the pantry, or stir something in a mixing bowl. Older children can read from a cookbook and follow the steps of a recipe – just make sure to supervise any use of sharp knives or hot utensils until you’re comfortable that your kids have all of the safety tips down. Encourage your child to experiment in the kitchen. What happens if you substitute chocolate chips for blueberries in that muffin recipe? If your child doesn’t like mushrooms, can you use cream of chicken soup in that casserole instead of cream of mushroom? Not only will teaching your kids to cook empart a valuable life skill, using cookbooks and measuring cups and spoons will also strengthen their reading and math skills. And since you have to eat anyway, spending time together in the kitchen is an easy choice.
Outdoor Arts and Crafts
There’s no one more creative than a kid who loves to get down and dirty with fingerpaints, watercolors, paper mache, and clay. However, if you’ve just finished getting your house cleaned since their last visit, you may internally groan a little at the thought of setting up a craft project that you’ll have to clean up later. But there’s a solution that can work for both of you, as long as the weather is nice – outdoor arts and crafts.
You don’t need much to make an afternoon out of outdoor art projects. An old card table, an easel, some banner paper, non-toxic paints, a bucket of markers, an assortment of Play-Dough – bring out whatever you happen to have on hand. Dress your child in clothes that you’re not worried about them damaging or have them throw an oversized T-shirt on over their clothes, and then just let them create to their heart’s content. When they’re finished, send the kids to the tub and hose down the driveway and you’re finished with the cleanup.
Do Something Nice for Someone Else
When you’re looking for a way to fill your time, you can’t do much better than using it to volunteer for a charity or social good organization. Sure, it may not be what you think of first when you think of entertainment, but doing something to help someone else leaves you feeling great too, and it’s definitely a good use of your time. And it’s a valuable lesson to pass on to your own children – both that they can contribute to their communities and give back to those in need, and that doing good in the world makes them feel good too.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages – even small children can hand out plates at a soup kitchen or participate in “Adopt a Grandparent” programs at the local nursing home. If you belong to a religious organization, the religious leader or staff at your place of worship may be able to recommend volunteer opportunities and may even be affiliated with some. If not, check with your local community center. You don’t even have to go through a formal charity or organization, either. Offer to rake leaves for your elderly neighbor and bring your child along to help bag up the leaves. Or have your child help you bake muffins for a welcome basket for the family that just moved in down the street. This will give you something fun to do with your child while making someone else’s day a little brighter, and everyone involved will benefit.
Take a Tour
Tours aren’t just an activity for vacations and field trips – they’re also a way to learn about your own town. And a surprising amount of businesses, historic sites, and other interesting locations offer tours that are free or low-cost, especially if you’re not living in a tourist hotspot. You might be able to go behind the scenes at a local bakery to find out how the donuts are really made, or visit the oldest house in the area and find out who built it, why they built it there, and who has lived there since.
Finding free or low-cost tours in your own city can take a little research, but you’re almost certain to find something if you look for it. And if your child has an interest in a particular place, you can always ask if they’ve thought of offering a tour – if they haven’t thought of it before, they may be willing to do it if you ask. For example, your child who dreams of working with animals might love a quick tour of the veterinarian’s office on a slow day. Or your child with a sweet tooth might love a look at the inner workings of a nearby candy factory. Tours are often a low-cost and educational way to get in an outing with your kids during visitation time.
Be willing to think outside the box a little when it comes to visitation time. There are plenty of ways for you to entertain your child and share a bonding experience that doesn’t require a lot of money, time, or travel.