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Tips for helping children adapt to two homes

If you are going through a divorce or separation, your mind may be pulled in a million directions. Just as it may be a struggle for you to rebuild your life as a party of one and perhaps find a new place to live, among other major transitions, it may also be a struggle for your children.

They, too, are going to have to adjust to some considerable lifestyle changes, one of which might be dividing their time between you and your estranged or former spouse's home. Adjusting from one familial home to two is understandably difficult for many children, but the process can prove far smoother if you, and if the situation permits, your ex-spouse, make efforts to help ease your children into the change. Consider taking the following steps when transitioning your child from living in one to two homes.

Stick to a schedule

If your child has spent his or her entire life in a single-family home, you may be able to make the transition to multiple homes easier by creating a firm schedule and sticking to it. You may find that it benefits your child to have a calendar at both homes that outlines when he or she will travel back and forth. Also, try to be consistent when it comes to pick-ups and drop-offs. Experts often advise that the parent who housed the child be the one to drive the child back at the other home. This can help avoid arguments or interruptions that may arise if the other parent shows up early or feels that his or her time is being encroached upon.

Let them personalize

Transitioning to a new home and bedroom may also go more smoothly if you allow your child to play an active role in the process. Let your son or daughter pick out new furniture or d├ęcor to make the new space feel personal. It may also prove wise, particularly if your child is young, to add some familiar toys or items to the new space. Be careful, however, not to try to "one up" the other parent by purchasing expensive items for the new space. The idea is to minimize acrimoniousness between you and your ex for the benefit of your child.

Minimize packing between trips

No one, including your child, wants to feel as if he or she is living out of a suitcase. While it is natural that your child will have things that he or she wants to carry back and forth between homes, it's wise to make sure that both homes are stocked with basic necessities like toiletries, toys and clothing. For younger children, it may also benefit them to start packing a day before the actual transition so that they have a chance to mentally prepare for the change.

For more tips about co-parenting, consider speaking with a lawyer.

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