Divorce is a stressful process that requires navigating through some major and tough transitions. When children are involved, it’s common and very natural for their initial reaction to their parents living apart, to be one of shock, sadness, frustration, anger, or worry. Fortunately, there are coping skills and tools to make adjusting to two homes happen with both your best interests and your children’s in mind.
Focus on Consistency
Predictability can create stability within a home. Having consistency and routines can go a long way in regard to a child’s well-being after a major life change. That can entail having similar household rules and disciplinary systems between both homes and minimizing unpredictable schedules. 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.
A face-to-face sit down may be the best approach to reaching an agreement on the continuity between the two households. If they are old enough, children can be included as well. If you are unable to sit down with your ex-spouse to negotiate, assistance from a mediator or parenting classes may be helpful.
Keep a Dual Calendar
Children of all ages can have a hard time keeping track of custody schedules. Additionally, one of the harder things is the sudden unpredictability of when they’ll see mom or dad next. Having a physical calendar color-coded with mom’s days and dad’s days can act as a visual reminder, so they know what to expect.
Come Up with a Packing Plan
Splitting time between two homes can be even more stressful when having to pack and unpack. It’s difficult for a child to remember every belonging they will need when frequently moving from one house to another, and items are often forgotten. Have all of the basic necessities, such as toiletries and pajamas, at each household. In addition, coming up with a packing plan, such as helping your child pack a day ahead of time, can alleviate the stress of packing and ease the transition.
Give Children Space and a Say
Giving your child their own space for their things and permission to decorate as they wish, will help them feel as though they belong in both homes. Let them pick out a new bedspread or pillows, for example. Allowing your child to have a say will give them the security they need during this massive change and lessen any feelings they may have about things being out of their control. That can be as simple as having them choose a new activity to try, or deciding on a restaurant for dinner.
Follow Your Parenting Plan
Establishing and sticking to your parenting plan will make a difference in both the lives of your children and your co-parenting relationship. Cooperation and mutual support between co-parents will allow you to put your child’s needs first. Children of all ages generally benefit from shared custody and strong involvement with both parents. An effective parenting plan will also help you avoid many arguments with your ex-spouse regarding what should happen with the children and who is making decisions. Day-to-day issues that come up can be easily solved and instances of miscommunication and frustration will be minimized. As a result, the children will have a better chance of successfully adjusting.
For legal counsel and to discuss your situation in more detail, contact the Spokane family law attorneys at Twyford Law Office. We offer free consultations.