A Divorced Parent’s Guide: Helping Your Child Feel at Home in Two Households

By: Mary A. Cosmo, Esq. Jan. 3, 2022.

Rotating Households

Many children divide their time between two households in the aftermath of a divorce. Shared parenting is always a challenge, but you can make the transition smoother by putting your children’s needs first.

Advantages of Shared Parenting

  1. Give children the benefits of two loving parents. Children thrive on the love and guidance of both parents. Give them the best chance in life by showing them that they will still have a meaningful and nurturing relationship with both their mother and father.
  2. Teach conflict resolution skills. When your kids see you cooperating with your ex-spouse, they learn how to handle disagreements constructively. Focus on being respectful and considerate.
  3. Cooperate on important decisions. Even when the marriage is over, parents still have joint responsibilities including providing for the education, healthcare, and financial support of their kids. Think of yourself as business partners if it helps you to play equitable roles.

Steps to Take With Your Ex-Spouse

  1. Develop a comprehensive parenting plan. Planning ahead and putting things in writing helps many couples to sort out the details of coordinating two households. Work with a mediator or research sample plans online if you need assistance.
  2. Aim for consistency. Similar household rules and routines give kids more stability and less confusion. See if you can agree on the same bedtimes, homework routines and forms of discipline.
  3. Communicate directly with your ex-spouse. Instead of using your kids as messengers, go to your ex if you have questions or comments. Address issues promptly to keep resentments from building up.
  4. Be flexible. Willingness to compromise facilitates solutions for the sake of your children. Stick to your core principles but consider making concessions on less vital issues.
  5. Arrange mutually agreeable exchange procedures. Switch households at convenient times like the end of the school week. Dropping kids off is often less tense than picking them up. Pick a neutral location to make the exchange if necessary.

Steps to Take With Your Kids

  1. Project a positive attitude. Staying cheerful and relaxed is paramount. Your kids will pick up on your feelings.
  2. Design a calendar. Put a calendar on the refrigerator door. When you’re trying to schedule vacations and doctor’s visits, you and your kids will see at a glance where you’ll be.
  • Keep basic items in both homes. If your kids spend a significant time in both residences, get two toothbrushes and blow dryers. You’ll make fewer mistakes packing and help both settings to feel more familiar.
  • Plan for quiet times. It’s natural to feel awkward when the kids first arrive. Create peaceful routines like reading a book together or taking a walk in the park.
  • Provide advance notice. Start casually mentioning the upcoming household change when the time to move is approaching. Kids will feel better prepared and less anxious.
  • Involve children in the process. Help your kids to feel more empowered and in control while they’re coping with the big changes in your family. Small kids can pick out a stuffed animal they want to pack. Older kids may be able to participate in decisions about how much time to spend with their mother or father at different stages in their lives.

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