What Is Temporary vs. Long-Term Spousal Support?

a gavel sits atop money

If you have questions about spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, you’re not alone. Spousal support comes in two general types: temporary and long-term. When you go through a divorce in California, you or your ex-spouse may apply for one, or both. Spousal support is a written agreement or order to instill temporary or permanent payment from one spouse to another after separation, when plans for divorce have been made. Let’s look at these two basic types of support, how they are calculated, the differences between them, and when each is put into effect.

What Is Temporary Support?

Generally speaking, temporary spousal support is implemented to maintain the financial status quo during the actual process of divorce or legal annulment/separation. Long-term support, on the other hand, can be indefinite. For temporary support to be put into effect, each party must file an income and expense declaration to prove their financial situations. It is at the discretion of the court to determine what the financial status quo was prior to the time of separation. Guideline calculators are often used (but not required) by the courts to determine the amount awarded. These calculators factor in each spouse’s income, healthcare deductions, and expenses. This type of support is considered temporary because it is meant to end once more permanent, long-term support is awarded once the divorce is finalized.

What Is Long-Term Support?

Long-term support does not employ the use of a calculator in determining payment amounts. The courts instead consider a broader spectrum of factors, including the couple’s married standard of living, current separate income, earning capacity, ability to pay alimony, relative financial needs, assets, length of marriage, the needs of dependent children, the age and health of each spouse, any prior payments from one spouse to another towards education or training, and more. Because of its long-term nature, it is more all-encompassing.

Modification of Long-Term Support

Long-term support can be modified, and very rarely lasts forever. Long-term support for shorter marriages is often implemented for only half the length of the marriage. For marriages over 10 years, a judge will determine how much time is reasonable for the supported spouse to become self-sufficient after the marriage has ended. But the duration and amount of long-term support can be modified by request as long as “non-modifiable” verbiage is not contained within the initial agreement. You and your ex-spouse can agree to modify the amount, or either one of you can bring the issue to court by filing a motion for a material change of circumstances that would warrant such modification or termination. Some such circumstances might be loss of a job, a health issue, or any other circumstance that has decreased the paying spouse’s income through no fault of their own. Long-term support obligations also automatically terminate upon the death of the supported spouse.

Three Major Differences between Temporary and Long-Term Support

1. These two types of support fulfill different needs. Whereas temporary support is meant to support the status quo during a divorce case; long-term support is meant to support the standard of living experienced during the marriage after the divorce is final.

2. Guideline calculators for the support payment amount can only be used to determine a motion for temporary spousal support. They cannot be used in determining permanent spousal support, as many more factors must be taken into account to determine a fair judgment for long-term support.

3.  Permanent spousal support is not considered taxable income as long as each spouse files a separate tax return.

Temporary and long-term support are both applicable to the divorce process, but in very different ways. Different factors are taken into account, and modifications can often be made to long-term rulings as circumstances change in the years following the divorce. A spouse may be subject to one, both, or neither during the process, depending on the financial dependence of each spouse and the determination of the court.

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What You Need to Know About Amending the Terms of Child Support

A gavel sits atop a desk covered with money

As the lives of you and your child move forward, child support payments may require modification. The court system is flexible to this, but changes must be legally approved and meet certain requirements. In California, parents must demonstrate that there has been a change in circumstances significant enough to warrant the modification.

Child support is a serious issue to California courts. If your situation has changed and you believe your child support structure needs to change as well, make a modification request sooner rather than later. Failing to pay — even for valid reasons — without informing the court of your situation can lead to a judge finding you in contempt of court.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at why you may need to change your child support arrangement, and the considerations to bear in mind as you move forward.

Reasons for Modifying Child Support

A major life change, personally or professionally, is often the main reason to amend the terms of child support. An adjusted income (either up or down) or the loss of a job is often seen by the courts as a valid reason to reassess child support. On a personal level, child support may shift if a parent is incarcerated, has a child from another relationship, or is going through a divorce.

A child’s needs also affect support costs — for instance, the need for extra educational support or the onset of a health problem that demands care. A shift in custody arrangements is also a reason to modify child support. If a child is now spending significantly more time with you than before, then the amount of child support you pay may drop in accordance with your additional responsibilities.

Courts may also make temporary child support changes to accommodate pressing matters such as a medical emergency, or a short-term shift in income for either parent as a result of a temporary disability or the occurrence of a natural disaster, for example.

Going About the Change

Unlike in some states where child support modifications can be made by opening a case at a local child support agency, California requires that a judge sign off on any changes, provided the shift totals either 20% or $50, whichever is less.

A child support agency can provide assistance in this process, but it is not the main place where issues are mediated. If there are disagreements with the change, a family attorney or a facilitator in Family Court are two other individuals who can offer support.

If parents and guardians are satisfied with the change amount, they can sign an agreement which will be approved by the court. If there is no agreement, it is up to a judge to decide for or against a change based on the information parents must submit. This information includes any documents that offer proof of finances (paystubs, unemployment benefits, etc.), medical and health information for the child, as well as custody and visitation agreements. These are all elements that will be considered when deciding if an amendment is appropriate, so it’s essential to keep up-to-date and accurate records.

Getting the Support You Need

Amending the terms of your child support is challenging to navigate alone, especially because each person’s personal situation is unique. It may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney about your situation.

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5 Co-Parenting Don’ts: Mistakes to Avoid Post-Divorce

Two Parents Fighting Over Child
Parenting is one of the most challenging experiences any adult will face, but co-parenting can be particularly tough. Emotions are high after a divorce or separation, and even if you’re on
good terms with your ex, you might find that you struggle to agree on decisions impacting the future of your child. In the midst of heated times, some parents with the best of intentions accidentally act on impulse, handle things in a dangerous way, or respond thoughtlessly, which can be traumatic for the child.

Being aware of common issues that newly single fathers face might help you to adjust your decisions and attitudes more appropriately in the moment. Ultimately, parenting after divorce is a day-by-day experience, and it’s up to you and your child’s mother to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your children cope. Here, we’ll look at what you shouldn’t be doing after the debris settles from your divorce.

1. Don’t Make Your Child Your Messenger

Communicating with your ex after a divorce is hard. Even if the split was mutual, you’re likely to feel raw, vulnerable, and upset. It’s tempting, in these situations, to ask your child to convey messages on your behalf, so you can avoid the experience. Unfortunately, this places undue strain on your child, and forces them to negotiate matters that they may not know how to handle.

If you feel as though you can’t handle speaking to your child’s mother face-to-face, then consider sending them a text message or an email to start. However, in some cases, you’ll simply have to take a deep breath and push through the unpleasant experience for the best interests of your child.

2. Don’t ‘Badmouth’ Your Ex

Divorces don’t always end amicably. Sometimes, you might leave a courtroom or lawyer’s office feeling angry and bitter. However, it’s important to try and mute those emotions in front of your child. While it’s O.K. to show children that you’re feeling emotional, try to minimize your anger. Do not say anything bad about your co-parent in front of your child, as this can put them in a tough position, and make them feel as though they’re expected to dislike their mother to gain your approval.

Remember to be careful about the conversations you have around children, too. They can easily overhear the things you say on the phone, in conversations with friends, or even when you’re muttering to yourself.

3. Don’t Overindulge Your Child

A divorce can be a traumatizing experience for a child. Often, parents are left feeling guilty about subjecting their child to such a difficult event. As a result, some parents will overindulge their child, buying them gifts and letting them get their way whenever they want in an effort to compensate. Although it might feel good at the time, it’s not doing your child any favors in the long run, as it might teach them to have unrealistic expectations.

Similarly, try not to indulge your child as a way of getting a leg-up on your ex. Don’t try to identify yourself as the “fun” parent by buying your child more stuff. Children want love and support from both parents, if they begin to see their parents competing over them, this can lead to emotional problems.

4. Don’t Expect Too Much From Your Child

As a parent going through a difficult emotional experience, it can be tempting to lean on your child for emotional support and guidance. Unfortunately, your child doesn’t have the emotional strength to help you get through this difficult time. Children can struggle just as badly as adults during a divorce, and it’s unfair to expect them to support you. As a father, it’s always your responsibility to care for your child, not the other way around.

Some parents subconsciously ask their child to fill in for their former spouse at home, asking them to prepare meals, do housework, and more. While there’s nothing wrong with asking your child to continue their regular chores and help out sometimes, be careful about placing too much pressure on them. Your children need to see that you have the strength to cope without leaning on them.

5. Don’t Make Your Child Choose

Finally, in some cases, rather than having to deal with the complexity of mediation and visitation arguments, parents leave it up to their children to choose where they want to live, and which parent to spend the most time with. Sometimes, it’s easy to think that you’re doing your child a favor this way by allowing them to make their own decisions. However, this is a decision far too important and complicated for a child to make, and there can be hurt feelings all around if they do make this decision.

Don’t leave important co-parenting decisions up to your kids. Everything from visitation to where the child should spend the holiday should be handled by you and your child’s mother.

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Surviving the Morning Routine as a Single Parent

A father helps his young daughter get dressed

With back-to-school time just around the corner, plenty of single dads are wondering how they’re going to manage the stress of the morning routine. School mornings can be chaos for any parent. It’s up to you to make sure you get your kids dressed, fed, ready, and off to school. All that, and you still need to turn up at the office on time!

The good news is that the school season doesn’t have to mean months of terrible mornings. With the right morning routine, you can make sure that you get out of the door on time each morning feeling fresh and confident — all with a positive attitude, too. So, let’s take a look at how you can make your morning routine more effective.

1. It All Starts with a Good Night’s Sleep

During summer vacation, it’s typical for kids to stay up a little later than they would during the school year. If you’ve been a little lax with your child’s bedtime lately, it’s a good idea to start making changes before school starts. You can expect your kids to make a few complaints, but the earlier they start going to bed, the more prepared they’ll be for the school routine.

Make sure your child gets at least eight hours of sleep the night before school. Remember, tired parents and children can make mornings much more difficult, and that’s the last thing you need come school time.

2. Prepare the Night Before

The evening before school starts can be a tiring one, but remember that the next morning may be even more exhausting. That means that getting things ready ahead of time is the best way to prepare for success. Finish anything you can do in advance the night before. Short of sleeping in the clothes they’re going to go to school in, your kids should be fully prepared to get ready in as little time as possible. Try doing these things the night before:

  • Packing lunches
  • Filling bags with homework and supplies
  • Picking out the outfit for the next day
  • Setting out breakfast dishes

3. Wake Up Before Your Kids Do

On a weekend, and your days off throughout the summer vacation, you might have let your children wake you up. However, on school and work days, waking up before your children is essential to making sure that you have time to deal with the things you need, before you start running around after your youngsters. Waking up a little while before your children hear their alarm means that you can get a shower, drink some coffee, and sort out the things you need for work before your children rise.

Getting up early also means that you can focus on things that you might rather do without your kids hanging off your arm, like preparing breakfast.

4. Stick to the Same Simple Routine

Variety might be the spice of life, but consistency is key to a good morning routine. If you want to make sure that everything runs like clockwork when the kids are back at school, then it’s a good idea to follow the same schedule every morning. Kids often run on autopilot, just like us, when they know what comes next. You could even try putting key tasks into a checklist that includes:

  • Brush your teeth
  • Comb your hair
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Grab your shoes
  • Pick up your backpack
  • Leave for school

5. Switch from Television to Music

It can be nice to have some background noise going when you’re just waking up first thing in a morning. However, the television can quickly become a time-draining distraction for both parents and kids. Try introducing a rule for school kids that ensures phones, tablets, and television aren’t allowed until people are fully ready for school.

If you need a way to keep your children motivated, you could always try switching to music instead. Sit down with your kids one day before school starts again, and create a playlist full of their favorite mood-lifting tunes. This will be a great way to rev up energy levels in the morning and get your kids moving a little faster.

6. Pick Your Battles

Finally, no matter how prepared you might be, there’s a good chance that things aren’t going to go very smoothly during those first few days when you’re heading back to school. Some children are particularly strong-willed, and the desire to continue playing around the house rather than going back to education is sure to lead to some temper tantrums. Rather than fighting over everything and making the whole experience take longer, make sure you pick your battles carefully.

If your kid insists on eating a different breakfast to what you picked out for them, or your daughter tells you that she wants to brush her hair before she brushes her teeth, ask yourself if it’s worth arguing about it. Most of the time, it’s better just letting the chips fall where they may.

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5 Ways to Encourage Your Daughter in Sports

three young girls on a soccer team smile at the cameraGetting your daughter involved in sports can be a fantastic way to help her improve her health, develop positive habits, and cultivate more confidence and leadership skills. On top of that, sporting activities also deliver countless opportunities for father/daughter bonding.

We all know that an active child is a healthy child. Sometimes, as a father, it’s up to you to nudge your daughter into more physical activities to help her avoid the threat of childhood obesity, grow stronger muscles, build self-esteem, and learn the value of teamwork. However, there’s a fine line between a supportive dad and an overbearing parent screaming from the sidelines.

Encouraging your daughter to excel is all about finding balance. Here are a few ways that you can be the enthusiastic father, rather than the crazy sports parent.

1. Focus on Enjoyment, Not Winning

It’s always a thrill to see your daughter bring home the win for her team, or accomplish something incredible in her chosen sport. However, it’s important for both you and her to recognize that winning isn’t everything. Children who feel pressured to win are often too anxious to focus on the game. In fact, a focus on winning could lead to anxiety that drives your daughter to avoid competition and sports altogether.

The biggest motivation your daughter can have to play sports is fun. Instead of concentrating on the win, make sure that you encourage your child to simply do her best. At the end of the game, ask her what her favorite moment was, regardless of whether her team won or lost.

2. Help Her Set Her Own Goals

Goals are incredibly effective when it comes to motivating your daughter in sports. Helping her to set appropriate goals will ensure that she focuses on the aspects of the game that are in her control. For instance, you could ask your daughter which skills she’d like to improve upon and help her reach her goal. You can even help your kid chart her progress over time so she can see how well she’s doing.

Importantly, make sure that you don’t push your goals on her. As tempting as it might be, remember that your daughter is a unique person with her own unique interests. Allow her to define her own accomplishments.

3. Be a Volunteer

It’s all too easy for a dad to assume that if he wants to show his support, he needs to push himself into the center of his daughter’s interests. However, it can be far more effective to volunteer help than to assume the role of coach, manager, and leader.

Rather than yelling instructions during the game or taking over for your child’s teacher, let her come to you when she needs you. Your daughter will be sure to let you know if she needs you to coach her, or if she’s going to need some extra help with practice before a game. What matters most is that she knows you’re there for her, regardless of what she wants you for.

4. Let Her Learn from Her Mistakes

One of the biggest problems that loving parents struggle with is an overwhelming desire to fix everything. Your daughter isn’t a pro athlete, and even if she was, there’s a good chance she’s going to make mistakes on the path to success. Subdue your desire to tell her that every mistake is the result of the weather, the position of the sun, or the equipment she’s using.

Although it can feel like you’re helping by finding excuses, it’s usually much more beneficial to let your daughter own her mistakes and learn from them. Let her know that everyone stumbles sometimes, and help her come up with a plan to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

5. Give Her the Same Support — Win or Lose

Finally, while you know that you will love your daughter unconditionally no matter the outcome of a youth sports game, she might not realize that. It’s easy for a child to get confused when she sees the disappointment in your face after a loss compared to the elation that comes with a win. Show your child that you love her regardless of what happens. Don’t plan to go for ice cream after the game “if” she wins. Go either way. Celebrate her participation, not her success.

Researchers have found that the most effective thing you can say to your child after a game is: “I love to watch you play.” It’s not condolences for a loss or praise for a win. Showing your support and pride in your daughter is more than enough.

Supporting Sports

For your daughter, playing sports should be all about learning, growing, and having a great time. Kids love to play sports when they enjoy them, but if that sport becomes filled with pressure, your daughter could quickly lose interest. Learn how to walk the line between supportive and overbearing, and you should be on the right track to a happy, motivated, sporty child.

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Dad Guilt is Real — But Does It Mean Anything?

a dad looks stressed as he eats breakfast with his infant child
The moment a father meets his child, he’s overwhelmed with a range of emotions, such as joy, pride, love, fear, and more. The arrival of a bundle of joy instantly compels us to take responsibility for every element of that child’s life — and that can be a huge weight to bear. 

We frequently hear about the phenomenon of “mom guilt,” but “dad guilt” is a real issue, too. Fathers are just as prone to feeling the anxiety and panic that comes with ongoing guilt about everything from working too much or working too little, to being too strict or not strict enough. In fact, a survey conducted on over 1,200 dads found that 1 in 4 fathers is frequently overwhelmed by feelings of guilt.

Why is this? Modern fathers have countless stresses to deal with. Not only do most dads feel pressured to fulfill their traditional role as the family “breadwinner,” but a study from the Pew Research Center found that 48% of working dads felt as though they’re not spending enough time with their kids, compared to only 26% of working moms.

A Neverending Learning Curve

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about parental guilt is that it’s totally normal. Every parent will feel some guilt at some point, and in fact, that experience might be a good thing. After all, that guilt shows that you’re taking your job as a parent seriously. You’re doing your best to be the perfect role model for your child. That’s what he or she deserves.

The problem is that perfection is impossible. No father is going to jump into parenthood and get everything right without any stumbles or hurdles along the way. While most dads assume that they should be able to handle every aspect of parenting with skill and finesse, the truth is that raising a child is a learning curve. It takes some trial and error.

Take some time to look back over parenting through the ages, and you’ll notice we haven’t always taken the same approach to nurturing children. Today, you wouldn’t dream of hurting your child if they misbehaved, but flogging was a standard form of punishment in the 19th century. Collectively, parents around the world are learning together about how to parent more empathetically and effectively.

Like all learners, you’re probably going to make mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The key is to forgive yourself, and keep working on it.

How to Overcome Dad Guilt

While guilt can be useful in some cases by identifying when we should change our behavior or helping us to see where we’ve gone wrong, it can also be dangerous if you allow it to run your life. As a father, it’s important to accept yourself for your mistakes and focus on being the best dad you can be.

For instance, if you feel bad because you promised to go to your child’s ball game and then didn’t turn up, then you’re feeling worthy guilt. Rather than dwelling on it, make sure that you take steps to avoid the same problem in the future. Take actionable steps to avoid your guilt.

According to studies, about 19% of dads feel as though they’re not “present” enough with their kids. A great way to minimize that problem is to schedule distraction-free bonding time. For instance, put your phone in a drawer for an hour each day while you chat with your child. You can get it back out when they go to bed.

Dads, Give Yourself a Break

When it comes to parenting, research shows that dads are much harder on themselves than moms. Among working dads who feel they’re not spending enough time with their children, only about 49% consider themselves to be doing a “good” job.

Ultimately, overcoming dad guilt means letting go of perfection. Be realistic about your ability to solve every problem that your child faces, and remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. While a dad who works constantly may feel bad about not spending enough time with his kids, a dad who works less might feel guilty about not bringing home a big enough paycheck. Parenting isn’t a competitive sport, so remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.

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Keep an Eye Out For Signs of a Depressed Daughter

young teen girl sits on the floor with her head in her kneesDepression among teenage girls is a serious concern. Research shows that teen depression is on the rise, with approximately 20 percent of teens experiencing depression before adulthood. What’s more: suicide is the third-leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults. Yet, sadly, only 30 percent of teens with depression receive treatment.

Busy single dads may not immediately notice signs of emotional changes in their kids, and their teenagers may not be likely to talk about it. To prevent and treat depression, it’s important to learn how to recognize the signs and how to respond if you suspect your daughter is depressed.

Signs of Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that causes changes in emotions, behaviors, and physical health. It can result in long-term complications, such as physical illness, social isolation, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, academic problems, and relationship difficulties.

Teen depression symptoms involve a variety of emotional and behavioral changes. If your daughter has depression, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Crying for no reason
  • Frequent episodes of frustration, irritability, or worry
  • Low self-esteem or self-criticism
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Conflict with family or friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor performance in school
  • Changes in appetite, which may result in rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping
  • Frequent headaches
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Self-harm, such as cutting or burning
  • Talk of death or suicide

It can be difficult to identify depression as the signs and symptoms closely resemble those of the normal lows associated with common stress. If you notice several of these symptoms in your daughter and they begin to interfere with her daily life, she may be suffering from depression.

Depression Risk Factors

Depression is not linked to one cause or trigger, but certain environmental and genetic factors can increase a person’s risk. For example, a family history of mental illness or depression can greatly increase your daughter’s risk. Adolescents who suffer from other mental issues, such as anxiety or substance abuse, are also at higher risk of depression, as are those who suffer from a chronic illness. Risk also increases for individuals who have experienced trauma, such as the death of a loved one, or as the victim of abuse.

Depression in Teen Girls

Depression can affect anyone despite their age or gender, but teen girls are twice as likely to develop depression as their male counterparts. Teen girls are especially sensitive about the way they look and fit in, say researchers. Adolescent girls may experience depression due to cyberbullying and judgement from their peers. Of course, other risk factors such as trauma, parental divorce, and illness can play a role as well.

How to Help a Depressed Teen

The first step to helping your daughter is being able to spot signs of her depression. Talk to your daughter’s teachers, coaches, and mother (if she’s in the picture) to see if they’ve noticed any changes in her behavior.

Talk to your daughter about how she’s feeling to see if you can identify what is triggering her depression and how you two can work together to help her overcome her trials. It’s important to approach the conversation with an open mind and to avoid blaming her for the way she feels. Depression is not something people can just snap out of, and your daughter will need as much love and compassion as possible to make it through this difficult time in her life.

If you suspect your daughter has depression, turn to someone you trust, such as a school counselor, your teen’s doctor, a spiritual leader, or a close friend. These people might be able to help your daughter work through things.

The information presented here is not medical advice, and is no substitute for talking to a mental health professional. In many cases, you may want to turn to a counselor or therapist. An experienced professional can help find the right course of treatment for your child, including options like medication, therapy, or meditation.

It’s not always obvious when someone suffers from depression, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help prepare you to assist your daughter if the time ever comes. She may not ask you outright, but she needs your support.

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Meal Planning as a Single Father

a father and son make pasta together in the kitchen

Sitting down for a family dinner every night may seem like a 1950s fantasy in today’s busy world, especially for single parents. But the benefits are undeniable: it makes kids less picky, they perform better in school, and it might even reduce your own stress levels!

This doesn’t mean you have to slave away in the kitchen for hours every night — simple meals do the trick just as well. When you add a little ahead-of-time prep to the mix, you may find family dinners both more achievable and more rewarding than you’d ever imagine.

Check out some of the benefits of meal planning, and some tips on how to plan your meals as a single parent.

The Benefits

Saving Money

You’ve probably been tempted by rotisserie chicken or expensive snacks at the grocery store when you’re trying to appease your appetite quickly. But, with a list and a meal plan in hand, it’s much easier to resist those impulses and stay on track with your spending. You can plan in advance and prepare more budget-friendly ingredients—like dried beans—so you aren’t tempted to buy convenience items.

Saving Time

In professional kitchens, chefs don’t chop chives for every dish they garnish — they cut up whole bunches early on to make less work for themselves later. Try this technique yourself by preparing and storing containers of chopped vegetables in your fridge, cooking bulk batches of rice and beans for a week’s worth of easy dinners, or mixing up a bottle of salad dressing. When it comes time to put your meal together, you’ll be assembling ingredients rather than doing all the work at the last minute. If your kids are keen on cooking, they might even enjoy being your prep cooks.

Healthier Eating

When you plan your meals in advance, you’re better able to choose healthy, wholesome options for your kids. It can be hard to remember to eat all your vegetables, let alone make sure the whole family does. Planning meals around vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins ensures you’re meeting their nutritional needs — and yours, too.

Less Waste

Another head of wilted lettuce headed to the compost? If you had a meal plan in place, you probably would have turned it into salad two days ago. When you plan out your meals in advance, you’re only buying what you need, and you’ll be more aware of what you have on hand. This means much less waste.

How to Do It

Get Organized

Is your fridge a mess? The first step to happy meal planning is cleaning out your fridge and cupboard and getting an efficient system in place. When you know what you have on hand, you’re more likely to eat it. Familiarize yourself with what you have, and challenge yourself to use up old ingredients before buying new ones.

Talk to Your Kids

There’s no point planning a meal nobody’s going to eat. Ask your kids what their favorite meals are! You can compromise on how to make their junk food of choice fit into the plan. Pizza isn’t necessarily bad if it’s loaded with veggies, and it makes great leftovers for lunch.

Head Online

While cookbooks still have their place in a kitchen, the internet is one of the best places to turn to for meal planning. Sites like Pinterest can be super sources of inspiration if you’re looking to try new things, and a simple Google search can connect you with countless recipes. Do you have an ingredient or two you’d like to use up? Browse recipes that use it to see if you can find any that are easy and appealing to you and your kids.

Make a Menu

They say writing down your goals helps you keep them, and the same goes for meal planning. Write down your weekly menu to keep yourself on track, and also as a reference point for grocery shopping. It’s another great opportunity for your kids to provide feedback, to remind yourself of what’s coming up in the week ahead, and get excited for that Friday night spaghetti dinner!

At the end of the day, planning your meals will leave you with more time and energy to spend with your kids. Not only will you nourish them with well-thought-out, healthy meals — you’ll have the time to nourish their minds and souls with more active playtime by helping them with their homework, or simply by spending time with them. With a little meal planning, you can make new traditions.

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Working Dads: Make More Time for Your Daughter This Summer

A dad bonds with his daughter as he brushes her hair

A study of around 1,000 working fathers conducted by Northeastern University discovered that the more time busy dads spent with their children, the happier they were. It’s no surprise that spending extra time with your daughter is bound to leave you smiling more often. However, finding time for your little girl can be very difficult when you’re managing a busy schedule and hectic work life.

Time is a precious thing that frequently eludes working fathers. From cooking meals and doing laundry to keeping up with job duties, there’s a lot to do, and only so many hours in the day. Now that the summer is finally here, and your daughter has a few months to spend strengthening her bond with you, it might be time to start thinking about ways you can adapt. Here, we’ll think about just a few of the ways you can maximize your time with your daughter.

Think About Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible and remote working solutions are growing increasingly popular throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, around 50% of workers can do their jobs from home at least part of the time. Often, exploring the opportunity of remote work can be something that begins with a simple conversation. If you know that you’re going to need extra time to spend with your daughter this summer, discuss opportunities with your boss in advance.

The best way to get started is to create a plan of action that you can present to your boss. Outline whether you’re going to need to work from home some days during the week, or whether you’d prefer to telecommute after a certain time so that you can pick your daughter up from school, perhaps. Since more involved fathers often experience more happiness, they’re generally more productive and less likely to quit their jobs. That means that you’re in a great position to present your flexible working requirement as an advantage to both the company and your family.

Create a Plan for Summer Fun

Sometimes, the best way to make the most of your time with your daughter during summer is to be picky about the things you want to do. You might not be able to do everything, but focus on a few key must-do activities that your daughter will love. Create a list that you and your daughter can both add to at your leisure. That way, you’ll start to build a schedule that you can adapt your other chores and responsibilities around.

If you’re lucky enough to get some much-needed time off during the summer months, you could even schedule a family getaway for you and your daughter. Remember, you don’t have to go on a week-long journey to the other side of the planet. A road trip to somewhere new can be a fantastic and fun way to bond with your child.

Involve Your Daughter in Whatever You Do

The unfortunate truth of adulthood and parenthood is that sometimes you need to do important tasks when you’d much rather be curled up with your family watching a movie. If you can’t neglect the chores around your house, you could always consider enlisting your child for help. Just remember to try and make the activity as fun as possible, and don’t get mad if things don’t go perfectly the first-time around.

Asking your daughter to help you fold laundry gives you both a perfect moment to stand and chat about what’s new in her life. Grocery shopping together can be a fun way to get both of you outside, particularly if you grab some ice cream on the way home. If you have the time, you can even consider getting your daughter involved in cooking.

Not only will this teach her some valuable life skills, but cooking together can be a fun and interesting experience for dads and daughters. You’ll have plenty of chances to laugh at each other when you end up covered in flour, and you’ll both appreciate eating the finished product a lot more, too!

Always Try to Schedule Moments Together

Having daddy-daughter time together is crucial when it comes to bonding with your child and making the most out of the summer vacation. However, it’s not always as simple as it should be. Scheduling in some time after dinner or before bedtime can be a good way to improve your chances of stealing an hour here and there, but remember that things won’t always go according to plan.

A list of things to do each day can help you to take control of the time you have with your daughter, but try to be flexible. There’s nothing wrong with falling asleep for a nap together on the couch, rather than heading out into the garden. If you’re having fun at a local pool, you don’t need to stop it so that you can go to the movies. Use your schedule as a guide, and remember that any time spent together with your daughter this summer is valuable — no matter what it entails.

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Summer Break Ideas For You and Your Daughter

A father and his daughter make cookies standing in the kitchenBetween work, home management, and life’s many other responsibilities, fathers often struggle to spend enough time with their daughters. Though you might not be able to control the number of bonding sessions you get, you can manage the quality of the time that you spend together by planning some fantastic activities.

Now that summer is here, you have the perfect chance to take advantage of the school break and schedule some much-needed quality time with your daughter. After all, some one-on-one time with dad can be the perfect way to make your little lady feel extra special. All you need to do is figure out what will grab her interest and keep her smiling throughout the day.

Need some inspiration? Here are just some ideas of what you can do when spending time with your daughter during this summer break.

1. Baking and Cooking Classes

Let’s be honest: most kids don’t have great diets. When left to their own devices, they prefer something fast, deep-fried, or easy to throw in a microwave. Baking and cooking with your daughter can start to develop a healthy passion that will stay with her throughout her life.

If you’re not much of a food maestro yourself, then you could always consider signing the two of you up for weekly cooking classes over the summer. There are countless kitchens out there that are happy to welcome fathers, daughters, and sons into their lessons. Here, you can both discover healthy eating habits, and even uncover a few new family recipes, too.

2. Build Something Together

If your daughter’s the creative type, and you know your way around a hammer and saw, then why not teach her how to build something? If your daughter’s a little younger, you could ask her to help paint parts of a dollhouse while you do all the dangerous stuff. On the other hand, if she’s older, you could teach her some simple DIY tricks and build a birdhouse together.

Kids love creating things, and once the building process is over, you’ll have even more time to spend together while you decide how to decorate your brand-new creation. On top of that, you’ll end up with an item that she’ll cherish for years to come.

3. Head to a Pool or Water Park

When summer heats up, it’s a good idea to spend some time cooling off at the pool. Whether you’re simply spending some time splashing around and cooling down together, or you’re looking for thrills at a local water park, you’re sure to have plenty of fun. You might even find that your daughter feels more comfortable trying out some bigger slides because she feels safe with you by her side.

4. Get Sporty Indoors

If the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans, or it’s too warm to spend much time outdoors, you can still show your daughter your sporty side indoors. Go rock climbing together at an indoor climbing wall. This activity will give both of you some exercise, and teach your daughter that she can rely on you to catch her when she falls.

Alternatively, why not take your daughter to an indoor roller-skating rink? You can both get your heart rate pumping while your daughter enjoys the excitement and speed of an activity that’s great for all ages.

5. Discover Ancient History

A trip to a local museum can be a great way to foster an interest in history, or to just learn something new together. However, it’s worth remembering that history isn’t just about places and dates. A truly incredible historical experience can be about discovering the people who lived through specific events.

Perhaps you could tour a historical spot, and learn more about the people who lived there hundreds of years ago. Alternatively, why not focus on your own personal history? Make a time capsule and bury it somewhere secret, or take your daughter to see the house you grew up in.

6. Learn Something New Together

When you’re feeling uncertain, it’s usually a good idea to plan an activity where both you and your daughter are out of your element. Learning something new together is a great way to bond with your little girl, because she can see you struggle and succeed right alongside her. You’ll both be on level playing fields, and the competition will add to the experience.

For learning something new, the opportunities are endless. You could try making your own chocolates at a chocolate factory, attend a watercolor painting class, or design your own pottery.

7. Unwind with Daddy-Daughter Yoga

Finally, if all this activity leaves you searching for a way to unwind, then why not take in a relaxing daddy-daughter yoga class? There are countless health centers and gyms now offering parent and child sessions for pairs who want to learn how the art of yoga together.

You can both start your classes as absolute beginners, learning mindful activities and new ways to stay calm. In fact, these lessons could even help you to relax after a day at the office, or give your daughter the peace she needs to avoid panicking in the face of exams. Plus, you’ll give your daughter countless reasons to laugh with you as you fumble your way through poses.

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