Going through a divorce can be a tumultuous time for any adult, and for children it can feel like their world is falling apart. It can be confusing for children to have two homes, particularly in the early stages of divorce. But there are ways to bring positivity and excitement to this change while reducing your child’s stress significantly.
Help your child adjust to the changes in your family by providing as much stability as possible. Having established routines and continuity between their two homes will help your son or daughter feel safe and secure. You don’t need to have a strict schedule, just routines that your child can expect when they wake up before they go to bed and when they come home. For example, there’s always a bath or a story before bedtime, and a healthy snack when they get home. Resist the temptation to overcompensate by lavishing your child with gifts, or letting them get away with things they normally would not. Structure in your home will help your children feel calm and stable.
Ease The Transition
Help ease the transition for your children by having a neutral pickup and drop off spot, such as your child’s school. You can drop your son or daughter off at school in the morning, and your ex can pick them at the end of the school day. This also eliminates stress for the child and sad goodbyes. Children are very perceptive and will be keenly aware of any sadness, anger, or frustration you may be feeling if you drop them off at your ex’s new place.
Give Kids Choices
Allowing your child to have a say will help them feel empowered, lessening any feelings they may have about things being out of their control. Have them pick out a new bedspread or pillows to decorate their space, or ask them to decide on a special dinner over the weekend. You can make them their favorite meal, try something new, or they can choose a restaurant they’d like to go to.
Reduce Stress on Arrivals
You can help your child adjust to the changes between two homes by making their arrival from your ex’s house as positive and structured as possible. Come up with a special but simple routine for when they come home. Something pleasant and comforting, such as sharing a snack or playing a game. Resist the temptation to bombard them with questions; let them unwind and process the change in their own time.
Your child has two parents living in two separate homes, but they only have one childhood. By remaining a positive force in your child’s life and maintaining stability, you can help them transition into their new normal.