Going from one house to two can be tough for any child after a divorce or separation in New Mexico. A family transition such as this means the child has to deal with not seeing both parents each day and also adapt to new surroundings in the home of the parent who moved.
That’s why the changeover between parents needs to be handled with care and attention. Children may feel more vulnerable and emotional when making the switch between their parents’ homes. You can help make this transition a little less frightening by following these four simple rules.
Help your children understand the schedule
When your child knows about and is prepared for a changeover ahead of time, it can really help him or her adjust by removing some anxiety from the situation. You can hang a simple calendar in the home with the parenting schedule on it for your kids to see. Try using stickers or magnets to mark the days for younger kids. For older children, an electronic calendar they can access on their devices could do the trick.
Don’t just let your kids know about the changeover days; they should also know about permanent updates or one-time changes in advance. If you are still discussing those changes or updates, however, wait to tell your kids until the plans are all finalized.
Skip the bags
It’s best to have duplicate sets of what your children need in each home. Having them pack a full bag each time they go between houses will enhance the feeling that they are not settled, and missing items will add unnecessary stress and frustration to everyone’s experience.
Keep the atmosphere free of tension
This should be obvious, but it bears repeating: a changeover becomes extremely stressful for a child when there is apparent and open conflict between his or her parents.
You and your co-parent will not agree all of the time, and there may be times when you don’t want to see each other at all. However, any conversation regarding those disagreements needs to be kept between you and your co-parent only.
Assume your kids can hear everything you say to your co-parent in their vicinity, even if you whisper. Keep your language and tone respectful and appropriate at all times when they are around.
Be mindful of everyone’s time
One parent being late can immediately make a changeover go south, and even the most patient parent may become annoyed if this happens regularly.
In many cases, changeovers are a common part of the co-parent relationship, so it’s important to get off to a strong start and maintain consistency. To do this, you must respect your co-parent’s time, and he or she needs to respect yours.
Of course, there may be a random occasion when you find you are running late. When that happens, give your co-parent notice as soon as possible, and encourage him or her to do the same. Be mindful of how you schedule other things around the set changeover times so you are not putting yourself in a position to be late.
Changeovers for parenting time will be a new and potentially confusing task to deal with at first. Do your homework beforehand to make your child’s transition into two-home living as smooth as possible. Always keep your children aware of their schedule, make both houses feel like family homes, and protect your kids from conflict between you and your co-parent. When you stick to the simple rules above, you will be able to help your children adjust to their new schedules with more confidence and less stress.