Divorce certainly creates a great deal of upheaval in your own life, but the change is oftentimes even more harsh for your kids. No matter what custody arrangements you establish, their worlds and schedules are almost always turned upside down in an instant. Visitation, while important for maintaining strong relationships with both parents, can also be an incredibly difficult transition for kids to adjust to on both an emotional and practical level.
In this blog we will detail some useful tips to help your kids adjust to the major challenges and changes inherent in the transition to shared custody and visitation.
1) Create a calendar and stick to it
Keep a calendar that is solely for your kids schedule at both residences. Work with your ex to ensure that both calendars remain up to date and accurate. It can help to have a visual guide that the kids can refer to so that they will know exactly when they will be at Dad’s house, and when they will be returning. Do everything you can to stick to that calendar, even if your child does not want to. For example, if you let your child skip out on visiting his or her father because they feel sick, this may reinforce feelings that you are the caregiver and their father is secondary.
2) Establish a primary residence
It is much harder for kids to adjust and adapt to having two homes when neither feels like their primary home. Choosing one home to be your kids’ primary residence will allow them to feel more secure and help cut down on confusion. It does not take away from the importance of the second home, it is simply a logistical, and in many ways a psychological, decision to help your kids adjust.
3) Keep clothes, toiletries, and personal items at both residences
Both homes should have clothing and other important items for hygiene readily available for your kids. You don’t want them to keep everything at one home so that it feels like they have to pack up everything like they are going to a hotel every time they visit the other parent. They should also feel comfortable bringing personal items back and forth between houses without either parent taking issue with it.
4) Their own space
Try to have a space in each home that is just for your child. Ideally, this would be a bedroom in each home that they do not have to share, so that they can feel like they have privacy at both homes. This can help them establish feelings of comfort, ownership, and even attachment to each home. Be sure to give them plenty of input over how their space is decorated and arranged.
5) Try to keep house rules consistent
Try to work with your ex to ensure that things like bedtimes and other rules are consistent at both homes. Do not try to “win” your child’s affecting over his or her father by offering more favorable living terms. Try to keep as many things equal between the two homes as possible.
This blog is a brief guide for parents with kids who are adjusting to visitation. Keep in mind that every situation is unique, and it is going to take some time and creative efforts to figure out what works best for your kids. For more information on divorce and helping your children transition and adjust to a divorce, contact Florida Women's Law Group today.