Children from Divorced Families: Managing Life in Two Homes

Reviewed Jun 7, 2016

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Bouncing back and forth between two homes can be stressful for kids.
  • Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect.
  • When parents take steps to be consistent, the transition will be easier for children.

One of the biggest challenges for children of divorced parents is living in two homes—Mom’s and Dad’s. They have to pack, plan in advance what they need for days at a time, and then remember it all when they leave. Some children say they feel like professional packers.

While having two homes can have its perks, all of this bouncing back and forth can be stressful. You can reduce this stress by taking steps to make the transition between houses go smoothly.

Tips for kids

These ideas can help older children and teens shift gears more easily:

  • Keep a calendar of social activities and schoolwork deadlines. This will help you plan what to pack. You might want to use two colors on the calendar—one color for the days you are at your mom’s house and another color for the days you are at your dad’s.
  • Share the calendar with both parents. Keeping them up to speed will help them know the things you want to do.
  • Keep spare clothes at both homes. This makes packing easier and will help if you forget something. You might want to keep other items like your favorite shampoo or curling iron in both homes.
  • Ask your parents for a cell phone number so friends have one phone number for you at either home.
  • Tell your parents how you feel. If you feel like you are missing out on too many things because you are switching between homes, let them know. In her book Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two, Isolina Ricci, PhD, suggests kids say, “I really want to spend time with you, but can we figure out how I won’t miss so many activities?” Or say, “Is there a way we can change or switch the schedules sometimes so I won’t miss some things that are really important to me?”
  • Decorate your space in both homes. You will feel more comfortable if you make it uniquely yours.

Tips for parents

Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect. Do what you can to help with this—even if your child only stays at one parent’s home for a short period of time. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep rules generally consistent in the two households. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same, but it will be much easier for your child if you and your ex keep big issues like off-limit activities, homework issues, and curfews the same.
  • Always drop off your child at the other parent’s house. It prevents one parent from interrupting time with the other and is easier for the child.
  • Create a special routine for your child’s arrival. Knowing what to expect when she gets there eases the transition.
  • Give your child his own space. If your child can’t have his own bedroom, provide space somewhere in the house that is only for his belongings. A dresser drawer, toy bin, or closet will do.
  • Keep communication open with your ex when it comes to grades, tutoring needs, and homework expectations.

Check in with your child’s feelings often. Note when he is having trouble adjusting. Whether your child is staying at the mother’s or father’s home, he must know that one thing always stays the same—he is loved.

Resources

Co-parenting 101: Help Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce by Deesha Philyaw and Michael D. Thomas. New Harbinger Publications, 2013.

Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two by Isolina Ricci, Ph.D. Touchstone, 2006.

By Melanie O’Brien

Summary

  • Bouncing back and forth between two homes can be stressful for kids.
  • Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect.
  • When parents take steps to be consistent, the transition will be easier for children.

One of the biggest challenges for children of divorced parents is living in two homes—Mom’s and Dad’s. They have to pack, plan in advance what they need for days at a time, and then remember it all when they leave. Some children say they feel like professional packers.

While having two homes can have its perks, all of this bouncing back and forth can be stressful. You can reduce this stress by taking steps to make the transition between houses go smoothly.

Tips for kids

These ideas can help older children and teens shift gears more easily:

  • Keep a calendar of social activities and schoolwork deadlines. This will help you plan what to pack. You might want to use two colors on the calendar—one color for the days you are at your mom’s house and another color for the days you are at your dad’s.
  • Share the calendar with both parents. Keeping them up to speed will help them know the things you want to do.
  • Keep spare clothes at both homes. This makes packing easier and will help if you forget something. You might want to keep other items like your favorite shampoo or curling iron in both homes.
  • Ask your parents for a cell phone number so friends have one phone number for you at either home.
  • Tell your parents how you feel. If you feel like you are missing out on too many things because you are switching between homes, let them know. In her book Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two, Isolina Ricci, PhD, suggests kids say, “I really want to spend time with you, but can we figure out how I won’t miss so many activities?” Or say, “Is there a way we can change or switch the schedules sometimes so I won’t miss some things that are really important to me?”
  • Decorate your space in both homes. You will feel more comfortable if you make it uniquely yours.

Tips for parents

Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect. Do what you can to help with this—even if your child only stays at one parent’s home for a short period of time. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep rules generally consistent in the two households. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same, but it will be much easier for your child if you and your ex keep big issues like off-limit activities, homework issues, and curfews the same.
  • Always drop off your child at the other parent’s house. It prevents one parent from interrupting time with the other and is easier for the child.
  • Create a special routine for your child’s arrival. Knowing what to expect when she gets there eases the transition.
  • Give your child his own space. If your child can’t have his own bedroom, provide space somewhere in the house that is only for his belongings. A dresser drawer, toy bin, or closet will do.
  • Keep communication open with your ex when it comes to grades, tutoring needs, and homework expectations.

Check in with your child’s feelings often. Note when he is having trouble adjusting. Whether your child is staying at the mother’s or father’s home, he must know that one thing always stays the same—he is loved.

Resources

Co-parenting 101: Help Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce by Deesha Philyaw and Michael D. Thomas. New Harbinger Publications, 2013.

Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two by Isolina Ricci, Ph.D. Touchstone, 2006.

By Melanie O’Brien

Summary

  • Bouncing back and forth between two homes can be stressful for kids.
  • Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect.
  • When parents take steps to be consistent, the transition will be easier for children.

One of the biggest challenges for children of divorced parents is living in two homes—Mom’s and Dad’s. They have to pack, plan in advance what they need for days at a time, and then remember it all when they leave. Some children say they feel like professional packers.

While having two homes can have its perks, all of this bouncing back and forth can be stressful. You can reduce this stress by taking steps to make the transition between houses go smoothly.

Tips for kids

These ideas can help older children and teens shift gears more easily:

  • Keep a calendar of social activities and schoolwork deadlines. This will help you plan what to pack. You might want to use two colors on the calendar—one color for the days you are at your mom’s house and another color for the days you are at your dad’s.
  • Share the calendar with both parents. Keeping them up to speed will help them know the things you want to do.
  • Keep spare clothes at both homes. This makes packing easier and will help if you forget something. You might want to keep other items like your favorite shampoo or curling iron in both homes.
  • Ask your parents for a cell phone number so friends have one phone number for you at either home.
  • Tell your parents how you feel. If you feel like you are missing out on too many things because you are switching between homes, let them know. In her book Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two, Isolina Ricci, PhD, suggests kids say, “I really want to spend time with you, but can we figure out how I won’t miss so many activities?” Or say, “Is there a way we can change or switch the schedules sometimes so I won’t miss some things that are really important to me?”
  • Decorate your space in both homes. You will feel more comfortable if you make it uniquely yours.

Tips for parents

Children and teens feel best when they know what to expect. Do what you can to help with this—even if your child only stays at one parent’s home for a short period of time. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep rules generally consistent in the two households. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same, but it will be much easier for your child if you and your ex keep big issues like off-limit activities, homework issues, and curfews the same.
  • Always drop off your child at the other parent’s house. It prevents one parent from interrupting time with the other and is easier for the child.
  • Create a special routine for your child’s arrival. Knowing what to expect when she gets there eases the transition.
  • Give your child his own space. If your child can’t have his own bedroom, provide space somewhere in the house that is only for his belongings. A dresser drawer, toy bin, or closet will do.
  • Keep communication open with your ex when it comes to grades, tutoring needs, and homework expectations.

Check in with your child’s feelings often. Note when he is having trouble adjusting. Whether your child is staying at the mother’s or father’s home, he must know that one thing always stays the same—he is loved.

Resources

Co-parenting 101: Help Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce by Deesha Philyaw and Michael D. Thomas. New Harbinger Publications, 2013.

Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two by Isolina Ricci, Ph.D. Touchstone, 2006.

By Melanie O’Brien

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.