One of the problems associated with shared parenting is that kids sometimes end up feeling like they don’t really have a home of their own. Because they split their time between households and parents, it’s easy for a kid to lose his or her sense of stability. Instead of feeling like they belong in each parent’s home, they may end up feeling like they don’t really belong anywhere.
Here’s how to help your kids transition to life in two houses:
1. Make sure your children have their own rooms. It’s okay if the kids have to share a room, but you don’t want them spending their overnight visits with you on a foldout couch. They need a space to call their own in each parent’s home.
2. Duplicate important items when you can and have a “go” bag that travels with each child. For example, if your child has a pink comforter set with butterflies at one home, try to pick up the same comforter set for the other home. Make sure that common necessities — pajamas and toothbrushes — are on hand at each home. The “go” bag can hold a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or other comfort items that your child doesn’t feel happy without.
3. Try to work out a routine with your ex-spouse. This is especially helpful for younger children, who thrive best when they understand what’s expected of them. For example, you and your ex-spouse may agree that homework has to be started within an hour after the kids arrive home and bedtime is at 9 unless it’s a weekend.
4. Be liberal about contact with the other parent. It may frustrate you that your child misses his or her other parent when staying with you, but don’t let that frustration or disappointment show. Instead, encourage your child to pick up the phone and give your ex-spouse a call. That helps small children, in particular, understand that their mom or dad isn’t going to forget about them while they’re gone.
An attorney can provide more information on child custody issues.
Source: Parents, “Making a Child Comfortable in Two Homes,” Jeannette Moninger, accessed July 28, 2017