Divorced parents are not the same as single parents.
Single parents are those who have either chosen to have their child without a partner OR those who have been left widowed. Single parents have their own set of issues and to deal with, but they are not burdened with co-parenting dilemmas.
Like it or not, divorced parents are CO-parents-particularly if they share custody of the children. What happens at dad's house does not disappear when the kids are at mom's. Rules, routines, discipline, even FOOD are different at each home. It might be difficult for a four year old to remember that it's ok to eat on the sofa a daddy's but not a mommy's... And with a schedule that has meant a shift every other day, MY children are really having a hard time of it.
Yes. Due to their dad's new teaching schedule, and our commitment to 50/50 custody, the children are sleeping Monday & Wednesday at Dad's and Tuesday and Thursday here. Still switching off Fri/Sat/Sun. It's not working.
Changing this schedule will mean that the kids will be with me a bit more than with their dad, but I believe it will end up being better for them. Making the transition is hard enough without having to do it every single day.
OH - the transition ... it's not just a changing of the guards, a handing off of responsibility.... It's bigger. Remember the KIDS. They have to adjust their entire being to live in a different home with an entirely different set of rules.
Over the last year I've learned some techniques to help ease transition days. Listed here are five that I find particularly helpful:
1. Be waiting for their arrival with a big smile and open arms.
2. Do not take it personally if they are grumpy or whiny or angry upon arrival. They (especially older kids) are pissed that you guys separated in first place and put him into this position of having to switch houses every day. Additionally, they could have been up all night, or doing errands all day ... you need time to gauge their moods and adjust accordingly.
3. Give them an hour to just chill out in their room or play with their toys. They need time to make the place their own again - they've been gone for many many hours. Sometimes days. They must make sure things stayed the same while they were gone. Consistency, when available, is vital.
4. Do not have guests on the transition days. The kids, even if they don't say it, really just want to spend time with you alone. To be with the parent they've been missing and to have that parent all to themselves.
5. Be prepared for the worst (overtired, grumpy, unhappy child). If the child comes home well-rested and happy, it's a bonus.
What do you do to help ease this kind of transition for your kids? What can you add to the list?