Any change in family situation is an adjustment to a child. A divorce, while unavoidable most of the time can be a huge change for a child. When one of the parents suddenly isn’t there, it take a lot of sensitivity to help the child understand and learn how to reason thru what’s going on around them.
Even further, in the ideal situation, a child will get to spend time with both parents in their homes.. which is MORE adjustment for the child. At the end of it, it’s no wonder why the poor child is confused!
Being an adult, who as a child, went thru divorce and was shuttled from school to school myself, I am constantly thinking of how to maximize my son’s comfort and to help ease the transitions for him.
When my son comes to stay with mommy, he is in one school and when he goes back to daddy’s he is in another school. The first time he came to stay with me, I took a day off of work his first day of school. He and I went to his school and met his teacher, walked around the playground and sat and observed his new classroom for a little while. When he was ready, we went home and spent the rest of the day together. Occasionally, he would ask about his new school and we would talk about it. The next day, he was ready to face it on his own.
Coming to Mommy’s House
When my son came to my place for the very first time, I had lots of new stuff for him. He got a new bed set, some new toys, some new clothes and some new bathroom stuff. That made the change more exciting for him. He of course brought lots of his things from his dad’s house, so we spent the first day unpacking and letting him claim his space and put his things away into his new toybox and drawers. I sat with him so he could showme all of his toys as he unpacked them and I could help him fold his clothes. Next time he comes, he will find his bed the way he left it and his toybox the way he left it and we will spend some time unpacking together again.
For me, it was important to help him PACK at his dad’s house too. He and I and his father all packed together and it gave it a sense of adventure before the big airplane ride!
I go easy on him for a few days to let him get back into the swing of things around our house. He’s usually pretty high strung and maybe a little cranky. We try to plan it so that he has a couple of days before school starts so we arent putting too much on him at once, as well.
Communicate about Habits
His father and I exchange information about his habits every time he goes from one of us to the other. The things we focus on are what he’s been eating, his schedule, what he’s been learning, what he’s having difficulty with and his behavior. We bring each other up to speed on the day to day things that we might have failed to mention before. That way the other parent has all of his new favorite foods ready and knows what he is accustomed to doing daily.