If you and your spouse are going through a divorce, your children will likely experience all the stages of denial, anger and loss. Whether they get as far as acceptance will depend on how well you help them adjust to the new circumstances, including the often-upsetting requirement of having to live between two homes. Start by putting a co-parenting plan in place, one that includes familiar routines to abide by in both locations.
Keep favorite things
The new home should be as welcoming as possible, and that means having some familiar touches around. Discuss with the other parent what items to bring in from the old house or which to duplicate to help make the transition easier for the kids. Little ones will want their favorite toys nearby; older children may want sports equipment at the new home. Most children feel more comfortable when certain books or CDs are available at both places.
Establish a routine
Children get along better if they can rely on routine and know what to expect. Keep a visible schedule in both homes showing, for example, that they should start homework an hour after coming home from school, that dinner goes on the table at six-thirty and that nine o’clock is bedtime.
Address separation anxiety
Help children handle transition day by reminding them a day or so ahead of time that they will be going to visit the other parent. During the drive, you can chat or even sing songs by way of easing the tension that might exist. Remember that children will probably need some time to settle in quietly when they arrive at either home. Give them some space, but stay close by in case they need you – or want you.
Ask for help
Divorce is hard on everyone in the family, but the task of helping your children adjust to this new chapter in their lives may seem overwhelming at times. There is no shame in asking for advice and support. Remember that you can turn to an attorney experienced with family law matters who understands what you and the children are going through and is standing by to help.