Living between homes requires considerable adjustment for children whose parents have divorced. They will react to the situation differently according to their age, and parents must be prepared to deal with everything from tears and whining in younger children to sulking and outright defiance in adolescents. There are many ways you can make this new chapter in young lives easier, and one is to help smooth the transition between two homes. No matter where and with whom they are living, children need a daily routine, one to which they are accustomed, and this is something parents can provide as a team.
Create a schedule
If your children were used to a weekday schedule of homework, then dinner, then free time in the evening when you and your ex were still married, there is no reason to change now that there are two households. Consider putting up whiteboards at both homes that show identical daily schedules. You can then create some excitement and anticipation by adding upcoming special events.
Set household rules
Enforce the schedule. For instance, make sure the children understand that homework begins an hour after school, and that they will go to bed at the same time as usual at both homes. A major rule is that children should not ask one parent for something when permission has already been denied by the other parent. Otherwise, kids should follow the house rules that both Mom and Dad set down.
Children have opinions, and parents should encourage them to help choose things like paint color for their bedroom in the new home, and the sheets and towels they will use. They also need to have familiar things around them. Although they can pack a favorite toy or stuffed animal to take along when they move between homes, make sure that they have familiar items that “live” permanently in both homes.
Make going and coming easier
Routine is also a benefit in the actual transition between the homes. Help younger children pack a day ahead of time so they can be better prepared; avoid last-minute frenzy as much as possible. Generally, the parent the children are visiting is the one in charge of taking them to the other parent. When they arrive, give them some quiet time to settle in.
Remain calm and seek help
Your divorce may be in the early stages, and you may find the transition issues problematic in one way or another. Keep in mind that the children will pick up on your distress. Your job is to be reassuring, loving and as upbeat as possible. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or are having co-parenting or child custody concerns, you can seek help from an attorney experienced with family law matters.