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Helping your kids adjust to living in 2 homes

Photo of Karen Lavin

One of the most difficult adjustments that kids have to make after their parents' break-up is moving between two houses. Whether the custody arrangement provides equal time with both parents or the majority of time with one, it can still be stressful for a child.

Kids don't want to feel like they are visitors when they're with a parent. There are things that parents can do to make their children feel comfortable and at home, regardless of which residence they're in. This is particularly important for the parent who spends less time with the kids.

First, if possible, give your kids their own rooms. Have a room that's only theirs and ready for them any time. Let them have a say in the color scheme and the decor (bedspreads, posters, etc.). If that's not possible, at least let them have some space of their own even if it's a chest of drawers, where they can keep things that are theirs.

It's not just having belongings at each parent's home that makes the transitions easier. It's the way that parents deal with them. This isn't the time to pick a fight with your ex over whatever lousy thing he or she has done recently. Save that for when your kids aren't around. The transitions between homes should be smooth and amicable.

If possible, have clothes, toys, electronics, craft supplies and books at each home. If they have to pack suitcases full of their belongings every time they transition to a parent's home, children are more likely to feel like a visitor.

Try to work with your ex to keep the kids' routines stable regardless of whose home they're in. If that's not possible, at least ensure that your kids know what the expectations are for them in each home.

Let your kids feel free to share with you what they did when they were with their other parent without judgment of making them feel like they're hurting you -- even if it is hurtful to hear about fun times with your ex. You want your children to be honest and open with you.

Most of these challenges can be overcome if co-parents can work together with their children's best interests in mind. However, if you feel that you need to make some changes to the parenting plan you originally developed, talk to your Illinois family law attorney.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "7 Ways to Help Your Kids Live Happily in Two Houses," accessed July 28, 2017

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