Making transitions between homes easier
Changes and transitions can be stressful for both children and adults. You can meet the challenges of living in two homes both practically and emotionally. Below you will find out more about what you can do to ease the transition.
A summary of this article is below.
Parents are and must be responsible for the communication
Communication in the coparenting team is important for interpreting children’s reactions. Help each other to understand what your child needs. What can you try if the child is sad? Does your child need to be prepared for the move? How will you arrange contact with the one your child is not spending the upcoming days with?
Do not make the child a messenger. If you want something said, say it yourself.
If you see different things – make it a strength in your coparenting
We often see different sides of our child. When one parent thinks the child seems stressed, the other may mean that everything is just as usual. Different perspectives can both deal with our own parenting and the child showing us different sides of themselves. Try to avoid polarization between you. The trust can increase if both parents are engaged in facilitating the transitions. Describe to each other how the week has been and how you have supported the child. Keep your dialogue going and listen to each other.
Help your child with all practical stuff
It can be a big help for the child if the parents help with packing the bag with clothes and things. Help with carrying the bag on the bus to school is usually appreciated, as is extra encouragement when the child does things that have to do with the transition. Avoid blame and reproaches. If you need to talk about logistics or planning, do it when you yourself feel in a good mood and can have the conversation in a safe and positive way.
Help your child with cozy routines in transitions
It can be helpful for children to have a warm lap to cry on when they are going through changes. Some children need a lot of affection to feel comfortable, and having cozy routines for bedtime can help. Perhaps you pick them up from school or an after-school activity and make their favorite dinner that every Monday night when they come home. It may be wise to schedule activities and socializing later in the week, so that you can reconnect with each other first. Maybe it’s easier to move on Fridays than at the beginning of the week. That way, you have time to settle down together before the week starts again.
Don’t take it personal when your child wants to “land” on their own
Children can be rejecting and need to land themselves before they are able to take in their parent after a transition. They want to lie on their bed with the door closed and play or chat with their friends, and it can feel frustrating when you’ve been longing for them. My advice is to respect the child while continuing to offer closeness and attention. Maybe it will open up at dinner. Some children keep the door closed to their other life and don’t want to tell you what has happened during the time spent with your coparent. In these cases, it is especially valuable to have a positive relationship with the coparent to check in with how the child has been.
Sometimes a change is necessary
If a child repeatedly, to parents or others (in school or to friends), expresses that it does not want to move or be with a parent, of course you need to take it seriously. Similarly, if behavior changes so that the child is constantly naughty or sad. Children who do not benefit from their shared parenting solution often express it overall and not just in connection with the move itself. If a child experiences that the relationship with a parent is problematic for a long time, the parent must change the way they take care of the child or the housing solution must change.
- It is you as parents who are responsible for the communication, not the child.
- You can increase trust between you if you both engage in helping the child at the transitions between homes. Keep the dialogue going!
- Help the child with packing and carrying. Focus on what works and avoid blame.
- Meet the child with cozy habits when it comes home. But don’t take it personally if the child needs to land a little.
- If the child shows signs of not feeling well over time, you need to find out what it is and help the child to a change.