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Helping your child adjust to two homes

Even kids who don’t go through a divorce have a hard time adjusting to change. When parents split up, it disrupts a child’s routine. However, Scientific American reports that the majority of children do well after a divorce, even if the first couple of years are difficult.

Parents can take steps to help a child adjust to having two residences. Here are some tips to make the switch easier:

  • Give your child space in the new place that belongs to them. Even if they have to share a room with a new sibling, make sure your child has a dresser with pictures and belongings that are solely theirs.
  • Put some familiar belongings in the new place. If you have to, buy a duplicate or have a “go bag” that travels from house to house with special items that comfort your child.
  • Give your child a say in the décor and furnishing. Let your son or daughter pick out the paint color or a new blanket.
  • Don’t compete with the other parent. Be enthusiastic about the child’s new room at the other place. Don’t make your kid feel guilty for enjoying time with the other parent.
  • Instead of constantly packing and unpacking items, have basic toiletries and pajamas on hand at both homes. Don’t worry about leaving a toothbrush behind.
  • Keep calendars in both homes as a reminder of where the child will be. This calendar should be accessible to your child.
  • Be low-key about the switch. Make a routine that helps smooth the transition. Play a game when the kids get to the new house. Make a favorite meal or just read a book together to let your child adjust.
  • Find ways to minimize the transition. The parent who has been keeping the child should be the one to take him or her home. This lets everyone finish up what they’re doing and get packed before leaving, without any interruptions to game time or dinner. If this isn’t practical, find a way to make sure the child is ready and doesn’t miss a special moment.

It’s not always easy to co-parent when a marriage breaks up, but remember what’s really important are the best interests of the child. Working together ensures that your offspring will grow up feeling secure and safe, even when their parents aren’t with each other anymore.

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