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How to help kids love both their parents’ homes

It can be stressful for kids to be told they will be living between two homes. It can ignite fear of uncertainty, destabilise their sense of security and cause chaos with their regular routine.

They may feel that all the changes are happening to them without their consent, control or co-operation to provide input.

Kids will go by your lead, if you as parents are united on ensuring the kids needs are paramount to decisions made and ensuring their well being is of the greatest importance, then they will find it easier to accept the changes ahead. Conversely, if the parents are always fighting, yelling and arguing over shared parenting, then the kids will feel insecure and fearful of what is going to happen to them.

It is key to acknowledge that you will ALWAYS be a family, just living in two separate homes.

Let’s face it, your ex will still be in your life…… at kids’ events, such as parent teacher night, end of year concerts, grand finals, graduations, weddings, etc

So, it is important to setup the new family structure knowing you have to create a successful coparenting relationship enabling the kids to spend time at each parent’s homes.

There are a few key tips to help kids love being at both homes;

  1. Create a positive atmosphere at both homes where the kids feel safe, secure and most importantly loved. If you are sad, depressed or feeling hopeless, the energy of the home will be somber and uninviting.

  2. If you are keeping the family home, try to minimise change within the house so it provides a sense of nostalgia and comfort amidst so much change.

  3. Allow the kids to choose their room at the new place and be able to provide input into the décor. If they can help choose colours to paint the walls, bed spreads, pictures to hang, and help arrange the room the way they like it, it can foster excitement about creating their own space at the new home.

  4. Enable them to spread some favourite toys, clothes, and photos between both homes, so that they feel comfortable with familiar items at each house.

  5. Do some fun activities that you used to do at the old house, like making pancakes, kicking the ball in the yard, making popcorn to watch a movie or anything you have enjoyed doing with them pre-separation.

  6. Invite their friends over for a sleepover at each house so they feel that opportunities they had at the family home still can continue in both homes.

  7. Enable the family dog to spend some time at both houses so the kids feel the whole family is living between two homes.

  8. Agree on a shared parenting schedule to provide routine and certainty for the kids so they know when they will be staying at each home.

  9. If the new home is smaller than the family home, ensure there are positives identified to avoid negative comparison. For example, the family home may have been a house with a garden and the new place may be a unit but has a park close by.

  10. Ensure the kids can call the other parent when they want to or on scheduled nights so they don’t feel isolated. If they have some exciting news they want to share with the other parent, don’t make them wait until they see them next as the moment will be gone. If they want to call to share the news, let them!

Children adapt and thrive after separation if they are provided with love, support and a positive environment from both parents with minimal conflict.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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