Having two places to call home can be confusing to children, especially when a family is in the early stages of a separation or divorce. Here’s some tips to help them make the adjustment.
Let your child have a say. If you’re moving into a new home, involve your child when picking out furniture and decorating their bedroom. For instance, your child might help pick ou the paint color or some cool new sheets.
Make the new place familiar. Too much change can be overwhelming to a child. Children often feel more comfortable in a new environment with some familiar belongings. If there was something special at the former home, see if you can find the same item or make sure it’s in a “go bag” that travels from house to house.
Resist the urge to compete. The parent who remains at the first home may find it hard to listen to their child talk about how much they like their new room at the other parent’s place. But this isn’t the time to try to one-up the other parent.
Come up with a packing plan. Constantly packing and unpacking for trips between homes can be tiring for everyone. It also increases the risk that something will be forgotten. To help alleviate some stress, both homes should have certain items on hand like toiletries, pajamas, books, etc. Also, help younger children pack their bags a day in advance.
Keep a visual calendrer. Use visual reminders in both homes such as a calendar with one parent highlighted in one color and the other parent highlighted in a different color. This helps children keep track of where they will be and when. Parents can also keep a shared calendar on their phones to keep track of doctors appointment, extra-curricular activities, etc.