During and after the divorce process, parents will likely not live together. It may take some time for divorced parents to grow accustomed to living on their own and in their own space again.
It can be especially difficult for children – particularly young children – to get used to living in two homes as well, as they get used to the reality of their parents’ divorce. So, here are a few tips for divorced parents to help make this transition easier for both them and their children.
1. Talk with them
Being open and honest while explaining these changes to children is essential.
However, the conversation will often work differently depending on the child’s age. For example, Sesame Street provides resources to help young children acclimate to living in two homes. With older children, parents might be able to directly address the matter and listen to how their children feel about the situation.
2. Make sure children have their own space in both homes
This is the first step to making a new place truly feel like home to them. Giving children space that they can make their own ensures they have a safe place where they feel comfortable in the new home. It can help them feel that they belong.
This space might include:
- The child’s own bedroom, if the space permits;
- A designated area for toys or belongings; and
- Closet or storage space specifically for their items.
Allow the children to decorate this space how they wish, so they can feel secure in a new space in the next chapter after divorce.
3. Keep items your child needs in full supply
We usually have whatever we need at home. So, to make a new place really feel like home, parents should ensure they have their children’s essentials always at the ready. Specific items will vary depending on the child’s needs, but they commonly include:
- Toothbrush, shampoo and other toiletries;
- Plenty of clothes for their stay; and
- Certain toys or other personal belongings.
Limiting the amount of packing children have to do when they transition between their parents’ homes can help reduce their stress and feel more at home in both places.
4. Maintain similar rules in each home
We have mentioned this in past blog posts, but parents should have similar rules and routines when possible. Some parents might avoid discipline or allow children to do whatever they want to compete with their ex-spouse. However, having different rules often only creates discontinuity that interrupts a child’s life and routine and creates confusion for them.
Maintaining similar rules and structures as children jump between two different places can help children adjust easier to calling two places home.