“Where are we going to live?” That was a fun question, in a line of many, when telling our child that we were no longer all going to be living in the same house. I stayed in the home where we all had lived and my ex moved to a condo. Life felt like it was crunched up and flipped around. Our poor son was being shuffled around and trying to learn how to deal with his new life in two houses. It’s not easy and I don’t know anyone who would say differently. Eventually you will settle into your new routines, but here are five tips to help make the transition easier:
1. Consistent Rules: Your ex and you have to be on the same page. Easier said than done, right? One house cannot limit the iPad to one hour and the other house has unlimited screen time. And don’t be lenient on the rules so yours can be the “cool” house. It actually isn’t cool. Kids like consistency and moving between two houses is anything but that. So, what are at least three rules that you and your ex can agree upon and both enforce? Here are a few of ours: No talking back to grownups. No swearing. No getting in trouble at school. We both try to limit screen time, but hey, nobody is perfect.
2. Chores: A couple of years ago I bought two sets of the chore magnets off Amazon. It was a great decision. We definitely agreed that our son needed some responsibilities around the house and this way we knew he would have the same exact chores. Some are daily and some are weekly chores. When he completes them, he puts takes them off the fridge. Keep it simple.
3. Nighttime routines: Pick an appropriate bedtime and stick to it. My son is going into 2nd grade and his bedtime is 8:30pm. Some people think that is too late for a seven year old, but this is the time that works for both of our households. We both work and we both want to spend time with our child before he goes to sleep. Our son’s nighttime routine carried over from when we all used to live under the same roof. Brush teeth, go to the bathroom, read a story, lights out. In that order.
4. Picture of other parent: I am sure I’ll get some backlash for this one. But, the picture isn’t for you to stare at and reminisce about a better time, it’s for your child. My son says that sometimes he just wants to see his daddy’s face. Fair enough. So I bought a double frame and put a picture of my son with his dad on one side… and a picture of my son with me on the other side. I wanted equal face time.
5. Something that they get to pick out special for their room at each house: My son wanted a bed with a slide more than anything. It was a more extravagant purchase than I probably should have made considering the situation, but it made his room at my house special. For his dad’s house he asked to have a trophy area to display all of his awards. Maybe it’s the paint color on a wall or an Ikea art piece that they pick out. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but just something that they get to pick out for each of their homes.