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Quick Quality: 3 Ways To Make The Most Of Limited Time With Your Step Kids

As a stepparent, you’ll likely only be seeing your stepchildren on a limited basis due to a split custody agreement. Combined with the fact that you’re not the child’s biological parent, this can make it difficult to form a deep relationship with your stepchildren, especially as they age.

Obviously, it is possible to form a meaningful relationship with your stepchild even with a time constraint, but you’ll need to find ways to maximize the attention and interaction you have with the child within the time available.

Put Down The Phone

When you’re lacking in quantity of time to spend with your child, the best thing you can do is to ensure as much of it is high-quality by giving them your undivided attention. This can often be at odds with our default behaviors to look at our phones in every down moment. For instance, one 2014 study found that 72% of parents spent most of their time absorbed in a mobile device while having a meal out with their children.

While putting your phone aside can be tough, it will make it easier to focus completely on your child and stay in the moment. Your child will appreciate the undivided attention as they share stories and ask questions. If you’re struggling to ignore it on your own, you can always leave the phone behind or turn it on airplane mode. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Get Outdoors

If you think back on your childhood memories, you’ll probably realize that not many of them took place in your parents’ living room. This is no coincidence. Getting outside of your usual environment and into nature is an excellent way to make the time you spend together more memorable.

There are all sorts of outdoor activities for the whole family such as hiking, canoeing, or a simple visit to the park playground. Don’t be afraid to travel a bit either; If you have a national or state park nearby, they’re almost always worth a visit. You can use this tool from the National Park Service to find the nearest park.

Family Fun Night

Another way to interrupt your day-to-day routine and deepen your relationship is to visit a family fun center or arcade. The secret to making the most of this experience is to participate with your kids. While you could sit at the table and eat pizza while your kids run around, you’ll get a lot more out of it by racing go-karts, playing skeeball, or having an air hockey tournament with your child, even if you let them win. They may seem like they may have plenty of fun on their own, but your involvement will make it even more memorable.

Another option offered by some family fun centers is bowling. One of the great things about bowling is that kids can participate almost as soon as they can walk with the assistance of ramps, bumpers, and other player aids. Bowling is also typically one of the most affordable activities you can do with the whole family.

Maximizing Your Time

Rather than lamenting the fact that you can’t have more time with your stepchild, make the most of the time that you do have. Focusing on quality over quantity will force you to become a better parent and possibly even connect more with your child than you would have otherwise.

It’s important to remember that children crave to be listened to and given our undivided attention. By putting the phone aside, getting out of the house, and engaging with them through outdoor activities or games, you’ll be strengthening your bond and developing memories they’ll never forget.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has done extensive research on the long-term effects of childhood hunger. Children are our main demographic of clients, so we work tirelessly to get their families the resources that they need to lead healthy and productive lives for generations to come. When you assist IFCS' mission to alleviate hunger, your support has a ripple effect that affects the future of our community. Take a moment to make an impact - #onecanfeed
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