Having looked at a number of parenting issues that divorced parents struggle with, from discipline to compromise, we are wrapping up this series with a look at the final subject on our list of co parenting issues that divorced parents often face – maintaining stability.
“But we ate a late dinner every day last week! Why not now?”
Life is unpredictable, full of unexpected twists and turns. Even so, divorce tends to rock the boat more than normal, especially when it comes to kids. One of the most critical things a divorced parent can do to make parenting easier for themselves and their children is maintain as much predictability as possible.
Children need stability. They need to know that while their world may seem out of control and changing rapidly, everything is going to be okay. Reaffirm them regularly and remind them that you still love them very much and that they are still a vitally important part of your life. Be aware, however, that verbal assurances, while they help, are only part of creating a stable environment.
Children who have to move back and forth between two households often struggle to adapt to the changes. Sometimes it can take them several days to settle into a new routine, and for kids who spend part of a week with one parent and then the rest of the week with another, the transition can be particularly hard. You may find that about the time they settle into the routine at one home, they are required to move to the other, making settling into any kind of schedule difficult.
Creating a schedule for daily life can be very helpful. While it probably won’t help much with the issue of switching back and forth, it will help to create a sense of structure in your home. It won’t take long for your children to realize that they are safe and life is predictable in your home. Eating meals at roughly the same time every day while they are with you, and perhaps even eating together is one thing you can do to help foster that sense of structure.
Other ideas include creating an evening routine, especially for younger children. Choosing a time to have a bath, brush teeth, put on pajamas and read stories would provide an anticipated end to each day. You could also instigate things like “game night” or “movie night” where you pick one fixed evening per week to enjoy board games together, or watch a favorite movie and eat popcorn. Children enjoy these kind of rituals, which provide both pleasure and a sense of structure.
You have no way to control what happens at your ex’s house, so the best thing you can do is try to forget about it. Stressing about things you can’t control will only make you unhappy, and that will have a negative effect on your kids. Focus on what you can control – your own home, and work to create an orderly environment and manageable routine for you and your children. It will make life better for everyone.
We hope this series on coparenting after divorce has been helpful, and that your post divorce life may be just a little easier because of it. Join us next week when we will be start looking at a new topic designed to make the divorce process, and the life that follows, a little less stressful.
But while this series is aimed at helping divorced parents with communication, it takes both parents’ efforts to be successful. If you are simply unable to communicate with your spouse, and you feel a change of Custody, Parenting Time and/or Support would be in the best interests of your child(ren) contact us at 517-886-1000