One of the scariest things about divorce is wondering how it is going to affect your kids. No matter which of you they end up living with, divorce is a stressful transition for your children and naturally you want to support them through it.
These days it is getting more common for kids to split their time between both parents. This can be really good for kids because it means they get time with both parents and can form a strong relationship with both of them. However, living between two homes can still be stressful for your children.
This is for sure: With dedication from both of you, it’s perfectly possible to raise happy and well adjusted children together even when you’re living apart.
Whether you split time with your kids equally, or they have visitation at the weekends or school vacations, try out these 8 tips for raising great kids across separate homes.
- Create Comforting Rituals
Creating comforting rituals makes every transition between homes easier on your children. The ritual you choose will depend on your child’s energy levels and personality. For example, perhaps when she goes to Dad’s house on Monday they hit the nearest skate park. Maybe when he spends the weekends at Mom’s house it’s time for pizza and movie night.
Part of the ritual should be giving your child time and space to adjust to changing locations. Just after a child arrives is when they feel most vulnerable, because their surroundings are different. Arrange a drink and a favorite snack, let them watch a beloved TV show or movie, and give them time to settle in.
- Back Each Other Up
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of treading on your ex’s toes when it comes to discipline and behavior. Perhaps you took away TV privileges after a fight at school, but your ex lets them watch. Or perhaps your ex didn’t give as much allowance because chores were left unfinished, but you think it’s no big deal to give them a little extra to make up.
Overriding each other’s disciplinary decisions creates a toxic environment for children and doesn’t contribute to their stability and security. Talk to your ex about any discipline and ask them to do the same for you so you can back each other up.
- Be Enthusiastic About The Other Home
Don’t let your feelings about your ex affect your children’s relationship with their other parent. Having a positive, nourishing relationship with each of you is the healthiest thing for your children.
Promote a good relationship with their other parent by showing enthusiasm about each upcoming visit, and by showing interest when they come home and want to talk about what they did. Whatever they say, resist the urge to criticize their other parent in front of them.
- Keep To A Schedule
Children do better with a schedule to create structure. Agree upon a visitation schedule with your ex, and do your best to stick to it. Of course there will be times when one of you has to change plans, but try to keep those times to a minimum.
If you do have to make a change, give each other (and your children) as much notice as possible.
Make packing an overnight bag or gathering school things ahead of each visit part of the routine. Your children will benefit from the sense of stability it provides.
- Have Double Of Important Things
Feeling like they have to carry everything that matters between homes can be very stressful for children.
Of course you won’t want to double up on big ticket items like phones, but definitely consider doubling up on clothes, toiletries, hobby equipment and things like games consoles.
Having double of important things makes each house feel like a home to your children.
- Give Them Space To Air Concerns
Switching homes on the regular is stressful for your kids, even if they have a positive experience of each household.
Give them space to air any concerns with you and your ex. Get together for a regular family meeting, or if that’s not practical make sure each of you makes time to sit down with your children and check in with them.
- Set Expectations
Setting expectations reduces the amount of stress your children are under. Remind them in advance of upcoming visits to their other parent.
Talk to your children about what they might do when they’re at their other home, and talk over anything they need to do while they’re there, such as a finishing a homework assignment or attending a school event.
- Agree On Ground Rules
Agreeing on the same ground rules for both households creates consistency and is much healthier for your children than having different rules for each home.
Have a conversation with your ex and agree on shared ground rules. Cover everything from TV time to bed times to discipline, homework, snacks and treats, allowance money and time with friends.
Raising kids across two different homes isn’t easy, but with teamwork and shared decisions it’s possible to create not one but two stable, positive environments that support your children.
Author Bio:-Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.