For children of divorcing parents there is a period of adjustment for them to feel comfortable and happy living in two houses. It is possible that, your children may already have some anxiety about the divorce and adapting to life in two households may increase their anxiety. However, as a parent you can employ some strategies that will make the transition less challenging for your children.
Here are some strategies for helping your children adjust to living in two homes:
Focus on routines
Kids love stability so it is very important to maintain consistent routines for play, bedtime, homework, and meals. These routines do not need to be the same at each house. However, it is important to have consistent routines in each home.
Duplicate essentials across households
Moving to another house on a regular basis is stressful for children. Try to keep duplicates of necessary and cherished items for both households to reduce the effort in packing each time there is a move to the co-parent’s home. This may include toys, craft supplies, toiletries, books and more. When your child is moving back into your house it is very important not to express anger when your child forgets something. Living a two house life style is complex and your child will need time to build new habits.
Stay Positive about their time at the co-parent’s home
When your child talks about the fun they had at the other parent’s home try to respond favorably and reinforce their positive feelings. It is very important to respect your co-parent’s time with your children.
Understand what each of your children need
To be happy in both homes your children need to feel comfortable and relaxed. Take time to understand what each child needs to feel comfortable. It may mean preparing special treats, having special items available, having consistent fun rituals or something else.
Give them their own space
It is important that each child has a space in your house that is their own. It could be a closet, a special drawer or even their own bedroom. Encourage your child to make the space his/her own (special decorations etc.).
Children need reminders
Don’t let transition days sneak up on your children. Try to remind them a few days in advance that they will be going to the co-parent’s house and be enthusiastic about their visit to the other parent’s home. It is very important that they continue to bond with your ex-spouse.
Don’t turn your children into messengers
On matters related to the children, communicate directly with your ex-spouse. Work together with your ex and develop an effective way to communicate directly on issues related to the children. Do not turn your children into messengers. Bypassing direct communication and using your children as messengers will increase both your stress and theirs. And, of course, never ask your kids to spy on your ex-spouse.
Let your children know that they are loved
During and after the divorce it is critical to let your children know that both parents love them. Let them know that as co-parents, you will still be great parents and they will always be cared for. Your children may roll their eyes, but they still need to hear it and hear it often.
Helping your children transition to living in two homes will take some effort on your part. However, with a little extra effort they can thrive and be happy in their new living arrangement.
During a divorce, the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., provides the experienced representation you need and the personal attention you deserve. Contact us at 630-416-7004 or 815-722-7050 to speak with a dedicated DuPage County and Will County, Illinois family law attorney.