A child who has Co-parents who live apart, or divorced parents will have to get used to living in two separate households. In order for your child to grow up happy and secure in both environments, it’s important that mom and dad make an effort to ensure the change is a benefit, rather than a disruption.
Give your child some space
If your child is lucky enough to have his room, then give them the opportunity to put their stamp on it. Let them have some say in how the room looks, so he or she feels comfortable and familiar. If he or she has to share a room, then let them choose what bed covers to have and what to put on any spare shelves. Make it clear to any other children that the room belongs to all of the children, even if there are children that only come over every other weekend.
Make things familiar
If you have a small child, then he or she might have favourite toys that they play with a lot. See if you can bring these toys with you when it’s your child’s turn to stay over at yours. If they are inexpensive items, think about buying more of them to keep in your home too. Familiar things will make your child feel settled and secure.
Try to agree house rules with your ex-partner or your co-parent and stick to them. Never let your child do something in your home that you know he or she can’t normally do. Don’t go over the top with gifts either, this will encourage your child to play one parent off against the other. Just be natural.
You might be going through a difficult divorce, or you’re upset that your child is going to his other hoe on a day that’s special to you. Don’t show your anger or disappointment to your child. It will make them feel anxious and guilty about leaving you. Pack the overnight bag in plenty of time and with a positive attitude, so your child feels comfortable about going away.
Don’t spend all your time phoning or emailing them
When your children are with your ex, or your co-parent agree to ring them once a day, either at bedtime or sometime during the day for a quick chat. Resist the temptation to keep calling and keep conversations short. Make sure you sound happy, even if you aren’t, so that your child doesn’t pick up on your anxiety.
Use a parenting app
There are plenty of parenting apps available to make more organised. It means you won’t forget important dates and you can keep track of expenses and communicate with your child. They are especially beneficial if both parents use one. Three popular apps are 2 Houses, Coparently and Our Family Wizard. Each app has a useful calendar, expense management tool and communication access. Using the app means that can schedule visits and share important information, reducing conflict.
Spend time with your child
At the beginning, try to make sure it’s you who’s at home when your child arrives. He or she might feel uncomfortable with your new partner. Talk to them about their day, look at their schoolwork if they bring or admire a new toy or game. Make sure they are settled before you take your attention away from them.
Take care with step siblings
If your new partner has children, then make sure that the rules are the same for your own child or children and your new partner’s. Plan family activities which will help them get to know each other. For example, visit an activity centre, go bowling, have an ice cream in the park or play family board games at homes. Treat all the children equally.