Help children succeed at managing the challenges of their two-home family. Children’s capacity for tracking belongings, organizing time and maintaining focus can be more challenged in a two-home family at the outset.
Help your children by building strategies and processes for navigating across two homes. Create age-appropriate routines and rules that make their job easier:
- Allow children to take important belongings between homes. This works best if both parents acknowledge the need for things to get returned and redistributed as needed. It’s fine to request that the toys at mommy’s new apartment stay at mommy’s, while allowing older, familiar toys to travel back and forth.
- The right gear makes all the difference in the world. Packing Junior’s
life into a backpack may not feel big enough and a suitcase may feel too traveling salesman-like. Try a nice square plastic tote with clip on lid. It holds everything from library books to X-box games, extra tennis shoes and swimming trunks, plus Madeline can decorate hers with pens that draw on plastic, stickers, and a checklist slipped into a clear plastic sleeve taped securely to the inside lid for guidance when packing. Transitioned items may require coordination with your coParent if kid transfers are happening at school or after-school care. Parents may drop off the tote or extra items at the other parent’s home at a designated time arranged in advance.
- A toy gets forgotten! Particularly in this first year, accept that there will be a few extra trips between households to regather something important that was left behind. No need to blame either your child or the other parent, just focus on doing better next time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Children in two-home families tend to build superior organization and self-management skills over time.
- Create workable routines and practices for packing and preparing for their transition. Just as you and your child developed a bedtime routine when she was three, and a “clean-up-your-room, make-your-bed” routine by the time he was seven, you and your child will develop routines for packing and preparing for transitions. Similar to the child who resisted getting ready for bed, your child may want to resist preparing for his/her transition. It’s not easy, convenient or his/her choice. Be patient, persistent, and practical. Time will help turn a potentially bumpy time into a no-brainer.
- Help children manage their daily life activities such as homework between two homes with coordinated coParenting protocols.
- If possible, parents should try to find some basic areas of agreement regarding discipline and daily routine that help children feel some continuity between homes. Some good examples: morning and bedtime routines, homework practices, meal times (within reason) and similar bedtimes.