When parents divorce, the household is divided. Your kids now have two homes: yours and that of your former spouse. While this change can be upsetting, as children don’t generally welcome disruptions to their routines, there are ways that you can put the experience in a positive and even exciting light before, during, and after the divorce.
Get the Kids Involved
When the new home is being established, get the kids involved as much as possible. Let them choose their own bedroom furniture, decide what color the walls will be painted, and set up their possessions in the new room. Depending on age, their input can also be solicited for other activities, such as groceries for the new home and what flowers will be planted in the garden.
Make the New Home as Familiar as Possible
To make the change more comfortable, add some familiar touches. If your daughter’s bedroom walls are lavender in the home she has always known, then paint the walls in her new room the same color. If your son loves eating his cereal in an Avengers bowl, buy a second one for him to use at the new place. When duplication is not possible, let the kids take favorite items from one household to the next whenever your former spouse has visitation.
Minimize the Need for Packing
Constantly packing and unpacking a suitcase as they go between homes can be exhausting and unsettling for any child. You want them to feel as if they are at home no matter whose roof they happen to be under at given time. To alleviate stress, make sure that both residences always have important items on hand, such as clothing, pajamas, toiletries, games, and movies. Whenever packing is necessary, try to do it at least a day in advance, which can be a valuable reminder to younger children that they will leave for their other parent’s home soon.
Keep a Visual Schedule
Post a calendar in both homes, each one highlighted with (for example) Mom’s days in one color and Dad’s days in another. This visual reminder makes it easier for the kids to keep track of which house they will be in and when. Such a schedule can also benefit you and your former spouse when you’re making your own adjustments to separate lifestyles.
Be Consistent Between Households
Routine is extremely important, especially during the early stages of the two-home lifestyle. The rules in one parent’s house should tally as much as possible with the rules in the other home. If, for example, you send the kids to bed at 8:00 p.m. on a school night, while your former spouse lets them stay up until midnight, adjusting will be difficult if not impossible.
Divorce is a period of transition for the entire family, but careful planning and age-appropriate input from the children can make the process easier and more comfortable for them. Although routine is important, kids are also resilient when their needs are understood and met, and they will soon adjust to a dual-household lifestyle.
At Alexandra Geczi, PLLC, we understand how important your children’s well-being is to you, and we will help you devise strategies that make their post-divorce lives as happy and well-adjusted as possible. Get the support and expertise you need right from the start — contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.