Title image How to make transitions between co-parent households easier
Title image How to make transitions between co-parent household easier

You can make transitions between co-parent households easier for your children. Realizing that they are struggling to adjust is the first step in finding ways to make transition days easier for them.

The main thing you can do for your children as you follow the parenting plan is to find a few ways to help them adjust on their own time and terms. This can include an activity you do before going home or just giving them the space and understanding they need to adjust. When you lower your expectations for their first few hours or day with you they can relax and fit back into your home in a gentler way.

Transitions Between Co-Parent Households Can Be Easier for Your Children

Rule #1 It’s not about you. Going from one parent’s house to another can be difficult even if you are a perfect parent. If you co-parent with a difficult person transition times can be even more challenging for your children.

Acknowledging that children are struggling to adjust to different people, rules, and expectations can help you empathize with them and find ways to help them during this change. With time it may become easier.

When you have a positive attitude it can make your children’s transition to new surroundings easier. Custody exchanges with the child’s other parent can be kept as calm as possible so the children don’t feel as stressed about their parenting time in each home. 

Photo of a father and child walking together

Children of Any Age Can Have a Difficult Time Moving from Home to Home

Moms and dads may run their homes differently, especially after divorce. The kids have different bedrooms, clothes, people, toys, and neighborhoods with each parent and can change places as often as twice a week according to some parenting plans. That can be a lot to deal with. I don’t know how many adults would like to live that way and we expect our children to navigate it with the least amount of stress possible.

Keep the Child’s Needs in Mind

What do your children need? Ideally, each home would be as similar as possible with the same rules and people. In reality, we know that their two homes can be complete opposites.

They may have a stepmother or stepfather or both. And how about some step or half-siblings to make it even more interesting? Let’s ask them to share a room with children they don’t know very well. That can make for a difficult and uncomfortable situation for children of any age.

Your children may come back to you full of complaints about their time with their other parent. Many times they want to be heard as they download their feelings. You can ask them if they need to be heard, hugged, or helped and then act accordingly.

As your children get older they may want to take a favorite blanket, pillow, or other item with them to help their beds feel similar at both homes. Sometimes, they have a completely different wardrobe at each home and may want to make their clothing styles more consistent by bringing clothing from your home with them.

There are many ways to help them meet their needs at the other parent’s house. It is important to let them lead with their ideas and requests. You should consider the other parent and how they may respond to the children bringing things from your home. They may have rules against certain toys or electronic devices in their home and it’s important that the children honor those rules.

Photo of a mother and son

How to Help Young Children Come Home Peacefully

it’s a good idea to have low expectations for their first day back with you. Younger children may be more prone to cry or whine about things that don’t usually bother them. Extra hugs and snuggle time can help them feel safe as they let go of the feelings that have built up during their time away.

You can help little ones by taking them to a park so they can work out some of the energy they are feeling before going home. Being outside can help them become grounded and calm again.

When you get home having an easy meal to prepare and clean up after will give you more time to spend with your children. You may find a movie night where they can snuggle up on the couch with you a lovely tradition to begin for your first night together again.

An early bedtime helps them catch up on sleep. They should wake up feeling much better the next day. Follow your usual bedtime routine so they can have the comfort of their normal daily schedule to relax into after being away.

How to Help Older Children

Older children may act more defiantly or rudely than usual. Most of that behavior comes from stress and letting go of the tension of being somewhere they can’t relax and be themselves.

Realizing that children may dump some emotions and angry words on the way home can help you let it go instead of taking it personally. Giving them the day of their return to reacclimate to your home as peacefully and calmly as possible helps them to know you love them and they can trust you.

Your children may want to talk or they may be quieter than usual. Just be available and willing to give them your full attention. Being a good listener can help your children settle their own emotions. Letting them know you love them and are glad they are home will give them the reassurance they need.

Photo of a father and child

How to Handle Different Rules and Family Dynamics at Each House

Once your children understand and accept that there are different rules and expectations at each home they may start to do better with transitions.

It can take a few years of their new lifestyle before they settle in and accept it as much as possible.

You can support them by listening and affirming. They may ask how to handle certain situations. They may ask that you communicate with their parent about things as well.

Talking to them about how mom and dad are different people with different ways of running their homes may help them understand why each home is not the same. You can talk about their favorite things about each home and parent to help them feel more positive about the situation. You can let them know it is similar to how each teacher at their school has a different look and feel to their classroom.

If you are co-parenting with a narcissist it is probably best for all if you follow parallel parenting. This will keep difficulties between parents to a minimum which will help the children live more peacefully in separate households.

If you co-parent with someone who is abusive you may never have open communication. You must learn other ways to facilitate effective communication that keeps you safe.

Photo of a mother and child in a car

Co-Parenting Issues and Co-Parenting Counseling Sessions

If things are not going well for the kids in their two homes because of inconsistent rules, difficult step-parents, sibling rivalry, or other reasons you may want to try a co-parenting session.

If your children have gone to counseling their therapist may be willing to hold a session with you and your co-parent. This can give the counselor a space to speak to both parents about the observations they have made during sessions. This may open you and your co-parent up to problem-solving to make life easier for your children.

Sometimes, each parent being given time to speak and be heard can go a long way in helping things improve for everyone involved.

If your co-parent is highly narcissistic a co-parenting session may not do much to help make transitions between co-parent households easier. At least you know you did your best to improve the situation. You can always seek legal help if needed.

Keep pursuing a life of freedom and peace.

Similar Posts