Divorce is a major life event that results in a range of emotions and significant changes to family dynamics. One of these changes involves adjustments to children’s schedules as they navigate between two households. Parents can use several strategies to help their children adapt to these schedule changes more easily.
Clear and consistent communication is vital during this transition period. Discuss the new schedule with your children and explain why changes are necessary. Ensure they understand that both parents love them and that the changes are not their fault.
Creating predictable routines
Routines offer a sense of security to children during uncertain times. Try to keep daily routines, such as meal times, homework and bedtimes as consistent as possible. This predictability can be comforting and help children adjust to their new circumstances.
Both parents should collaborate to create and maintain a shared calendar that tracks the children’s schedules. This can help to avoid confusion and ensure that both parents are on the same page. Tools like specialized co-parenting apps can be invaluable. Above all else: do not make the children responsible for conveying information about the schedule, or any changes. That is to be done between the parents.
Allowing for flexibility
While maintaining a routine is essential, there should also be room for flexibility. Understand that there will be times when adjustments will need to be made, such as special occasions or unexpected events. It’s essential to handle these adjustments gracefully and focus on what’s best for the children. Both parents can prepare children for these exceptions so they know what to expect, and parents should let them know when the schedule will return to normal. Again, do not use the children to convey requests for changes or for flexibility — that needs to be done between the parents, and a united front presented to the children.
Encouraging open expression of feelings
Give children the space to express their feelings about the changes. Let them know it’s okay to feel upset or confused and reassure them that you’re there to support them. Depending on the child’s age and situation, you might consider seeking support from a counselor or child psychologist.
Ultimately, both parents should work as a team to ensure that children have the stability they need to thrive despite the divorce. A solid parenting plan that includes a schedule and other pertinent information can serve as a cornerstone for this aim.