Children have a tough transition when their parents get a divorce. One of the biggest changes involves learning to live in two homes. This can be challenging because there might be stark differences between them. It is imperative that parents do what they can to help the kids feel secure and welcome in both homes.
It is important that the children think of both homes as their own. They might refer to them as "Mom's house" and "Dad's house" but they should realize that they are an integral part of both, even though they split their time between them. Parents may have to work hard to get this to happen.
- Give them a spot of their own in the home. This can be a room, if possible, but it can also be a special drawer or something similar so they can keep their belongings there.
- Make sure they have items at your home. Clothing, books, toys and similar items are great so that the child doesn't have to carry those from house to house.
- Allow the children to have a say in the décor, even if only in their own space. This helps them to feel like they are an important part of the home.
- Embrace your child's friends. If your kids have friends in your area, make sure they know that they are welcome at your home. This might be for playdates during the day or sleepovers.
- Set the routine. Children thrive when they have consistency. Even if you can't always have the same schedule, try to keep the flow of the days similar.
- Establish the rules of the home. If you and your ex get along, you might come up with master rules that traverse both homes. If this isn't possible, make sure that you get your own ground rules established quickly.
- Find new traditions to enjoy with your children. This might be having hot cocoa and watching a movie on a weekend evening or going out for ice cream the first afternoon they are with you. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something everyone enjoys.
- Relax on transition days. Stressful transitions can make it hard for the children to adjust. Contentious discussions with your ex can't happen during the custody exchange.
- Remember that the kids might want to speak to the other parent. Setting up ways for this to happen can help them to feel more secure as they adjust to living in two different homes.
Make sure that you have a solid custody agreement so that you can refer to its schedule and other important matters. This might need to be modified as time progresses so play close attention to how things are working.