8 Tips to Make Virtual Parenting Time Really Work

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted October 15, 2020

The recent pandemic situation has brought an existing child custody issue into the spotlight: What do co-parents do when it’s impossible to get your quality parenting time in person? Traditionally, this is an issue of distance and time. Children may not be able to travel between parent homes rapidly enough to get regular time with both parents.

Even if you are trading fair long-duration stretches of custody, parents still need to maintain their relationship with children by speaking daily and weekly as time permits. Fortunately, today we are surrounded by technology that makes contact at a distance easy. With a little practice, it can almost feel like you’re in the same room together. Virtual parenting through a video call can be fulfilling, but it can also be a ball of stress and technical failures.

Today, we’re here to share a few smart tips on how to manage virtual co-parenting and video-chat quality time in a way that’s actually relaxing for everyone involved.

1) Set Up Both Home Networks

Start by preventing a few technical difficulties. Set up the wifi network in both parent homes so that there is full, strong-signal coverage. Make sure your internet plan is up to video calls (not all plans are) and then configure your wireless router to provide a reliable wifi signal for mobile devices.

Next, make sure all computers and mobile devices to be used for video meetings are set up. Install the app, log into the appropriate account, and configure your camera, microphone, and speakers. Make a few test-calls between in-house devices and then between parent houses to ensure it’s all working correctly to start with. 

There will be technical difficulties from here, but at least you know the basic structure is there.

2) Private Co-Parent Meetings vs Quality-Time Meetings

Next, define the difference between parent-meetings between adults, co-parenting family meetings, and parent-child quality time meetings. Children, especially, get confused as to when it’s their turn to talk to a parent on the tablet. By defining the difference, your child (and both co-parents) will learn how to have these important separate meetings.

The video call does allow distant co-parents to have important conversations face-to-face, or not if you prefer. You can also establish the occasional both-parents family meeting for issues requiring a group discussion or a united parenting front.

3) Make the Video-Meeting Tablet a Fixture

denver divorce mediator

To help the distant co-parent become a more integral part of family life, make the tablet a fixture. Build customs that make it normal for a digital parental face to be part of the conversation. Have conversational breakfast calls, or tune the co-parent in during board game nights and move the pieces for them on request. The more casually children learn to treat the tablet, the more personal connection they can make through video calls.

4) FaceTime Casually During the Day – During Work and Homework Hours

One of the best ways to turn video parenting into a warm experience is to leave the camera running, even when there’s not much conversation. Parents can put the camera on themselves while they work, and while their child does schoolwork at home (while schools remain closed) during the day. Children can quietly do their homework next to a video-streaming parent and ask questions along the way.

This is a great way for kids and parents to spend that side-by-side quality time that is often missed out when children are living in the other parent’s home.

5) Share Mealtimes and Compare Meals Across a Distance

Have your kids and digital parents tune in together during mealtimes, especially if you all keep the same schedule. Compare what you’re having for breakfast or prepare and eat lunch together. Sharing mealtimes is a human family tradition thousands of years old. Sharing food digitally is almost as good as passing the salt across the family dinner table if you make it a fun family custom.

6) Play Online Games Together

Online games were made to bring distant families together – or at least that’s one of their natural benefits. There are many ways to play live games with your children online. There are online board games, MMO action games, and even private games that you can host and children join without involving outside players.

You can play games across tablet apps, through Steam and XBox Live, or through servers hosted for PC games. Whatever your children enjoy playing together, find a way to play it as a family.

7) Trade Emails and Practice Letter-Writing

Parenting from a distance has always been an opportunity to become pen-pals with your children. The age of video chat is no exception. Invite your kids to send you an email if they want to prep a statement or just like to write you letters. Send them emails if you have something serious to say or information that should be saved for later.

Encourage your children to practice letter-writing with you. People, even young people, can often say more in writing than they can spoken aloud. They might discover a talent for writing, or a path to better self-expression, or just become more practiced for school writing in the future. It’s a good way to share feelings and connect with your kids outside the video chat program.

8) Watch and Talk About TV Together

Finally, just kick back and watch the same TV shows together. You can use streaming services to watch the same movies and shows at the same time, then mock or discuss them. This is a great way to share common experiences and build a conversation topic that parents and kids can enjoy together.  By watching the same shows simultaneously, you can digitally live a family life together even when physically apart.

Contact Denver Divorce Mediators Today

The pandemic has added a new layer of challenge for co-parents with a child custody agreement, especially those that need to travel for exchanges. We know that parenting your kids through email and video chat isn’t always easy, but it could be easier. With these tips and more tactics that you build onto them, a distant co-parent can become a more involved and connected part of your children’s lives and maintain a strong family bond, even at a distance. If you need help with co-parenting during the pandemic, Contact Split Simple today!

Split Simple

1624 Market Street #202

Denver, CO 80202