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How to Handle Children’s Transitions Between Homes

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There are a number of adjustments children and parents must make after divorce, and one is the children going back and forth between two homes.  While it used to be somewhat standard for children to live primarily with one parent and spend every other weekend with the other parent, the recent trend is toward liberal time with both parents.  I view this as a positive as it enables children to be close to both parents, but it also means children have the challenge of adjusting to mid-week transitions between homes.  Here are some tips I learned from my parenting coach to help with this.

  1. Recognize that changing homes during the school week is difficult on children even if they do not voice this.  It is hard to go back and forth between mom and dad.
  2. Do not plan any special activities on the day of the transition if it is during the school week.  The parent needs to keep things calm and simple to make the transition easy on the children.
  3. This should be a day when you plan or pick up an easy dinner, go straight home, and then do a calm activity together after dinner such as a puzzle or coloring.
  4. Kids often ignore their bodies needs in order to have fun.  Just because they have a smile on their face and say they want to go play at the park right after you pick them up on a Wednesday doesn’t mean that they aren’t actually very tired and hungry and need to get home.
  5. Having different rules at mom’s house and dad’s house is ok.  In fact, this is a good lesson for children that applies to the real world.  As adults, we have different rules in our office than at home, different rules at our in-laws house than at our own parents, etc.  Children are also able to adjust to different rules in different settings.  However, it is a good idea to get on the same page with your co-parent regarding bedtime and waking time to keep these consistent between homes.

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