Divorce is difficult for everyone, and the transitional period immediately following a separation or divorce can prove especially taxing for any children involved. In addition to adjusting to the obvious change of their parents no longer being with one another, children of divorced couples typically must also learn to adjust to living in two different homes. While there is no magic formula for minimizing the emotional impact your divorce may have on your child, there are some key steps you can take to help ease the transition and make both parents' residences feel like home. Consider taking the following actions.
Let your child customize his or her new room
Most kids will feel at least some degree of excitement if given the chance to design and pick out things for a new bedroom. The more power you give your child in selecting furniture, décor and other items to fill his or her new personal space, the more likely he or she will want to spend time there. Be careful not to go too overboard, however; you do not want to get into some kind of competition with your spouse over who can provide more new things for the children. In such situations, everyone loses.
Minimize packing when traveling between homes
Another key step in making a new house feel like home for your child following separation or divorce involves minimizing the amount of gear they'll need to pack when traveling from one home to the other. Having to pack a toothbrush, bath towel and toiletries each time they visit the other home will make a residence feel more like a hotel than a comfortable, semi-permanent or permanent residence. Keep these items stocked at both locations, and minimize the back-and-forth that comes with forgetting them.
Make a plan for "swap" days, and stick to it
Many experts advise that the parent who has been watching a child be the one to transport that child to the home of the other when the time comes. Regardless of who does the picking up and dropping off, however, it is important to stick to guidelines. If you commit to coming at 4 p.m., avoid showing up early. You may be interrupting something, or the other parent may see this as your way of trying to get more time with the child or children.
For more tips on how to help a child adjust to a life split between two homes, consider getting in touch with an attorney.