Many parents who choose to get divorced end up with shared custody of their children. This is usually best for children because they can maintain ongoing relationships with both parents, but it can cause some challenges too.
One of the biggest challenges a child in this situation may face is the change from one house to two houses. However, there are ways parents can help their children overcome this challenge.
Resist having too much change at once
Children often thrive on familiarity, comfort and routine, especially in times of change. With so many other divorce-related changes afoot, it can be helpful if parents try to keep the home environments as familiar and consistent as possible.
This could mean incorporating some objects from your old house into your new house or resisting the urge to rearrange the marital house as soon as the other parent moves out. It can also mean packing your child’s comfort object each time he or she switches houses or purchasing a comforter that matches the one your child has at the other house.
Provide the child his or her own space in both homes
Children should also have their own space in both homes. This could be his or her own bedroom, if space allows. However, it is important that your child has at least a personal space in a room, such as a dresser drawer or a special shelf.
When there is a special place in your house for your child and his or her possessions, your child is more likely to feel that he or she belongs in that space. In some cases, giving your child a special place may help make your house feel like less like a hotel and more like a home.
Develop a low-key drop off routine
It usually works best when the person who has the child is the one to transport the child to the other person’s house. This way, it is less likely that the child’s precious time with one parent does not get inadvertently interrupted by the arrival of the other parent.
The parent who is receiving the child may also consider selecting a relaxing activity to do after the child arrives. A peaceful activity like cooking, playing a game or coloring can help ease the transition, which may be emotional for your child.
For many children, the change from one house to two can embody many of the changes that come with divorce, such as a parent moving out, altered routines and more. Because this change can be such an extreme one in a child’s life, it can be important for parents to do everything they can to help their child feel as comfortable as possible in both homes.