Establishing parenting routines is difficult enough when you are married but even more so after a divorce. You want to do what you can to make things as easy as you can on the kids, but you also want to avoid confrontations with your ex. We have put together some guidelines to help you make this parenting adjustment and hopefully avoid some common problems divorced couples with children face.
- Establish House Rules – ideally, the rules in both homes will be very similar. This will help avoid one parent being looked at as the bad guy and one that seems to be more of a friend than an actual parent. For instance, establish ground rules for TV time, video games, homework, and bed times. Consistency in both homes is ideal.
- Transitioning between Homes – constantly moving between homes can be very stressful for children. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but this is about as dramatic as their world gets at this stage. Try to make things easier by having things like clothing and extra toiletries in place so they do not need to bring everything with them all the time. Also, try to establish consistent pickup and drop off times with your ex so the transition becomes routine for them.
- Scheduling – we have already mentioned consistency and routines above, but we are going to specifically discuss the importance of maintaining schedules regardless of where the children are staying. Keep events such as meal times and bed times on the same schedule. If the kids are allowed to watch TV from 8pm-9pm at moms, try to keep that same schedule when they are with dad.
- Bedtime – we all have a routine that we follow before bedtime. Children are the same and you want to make sure their rituals are identical in both homes. Is there a toy or a doll they like to sleep with? Do the kids prefer the nightlight on or off? Do they like to have a story read to them before they fall asleep?
- Discipline – after a divorce, it is very easy to fall into the trap of wanting your kids to like you more than you worry about discipline. This is a mistake because the kids will notice this right away. It is especially important because the parent that is the disciplinarian may start to have excessive problems with the children acting up simply because they do not want to be there since they are always getting into trouble. Something else to consider is punishments carrying over from one household to the next. For instance, if the child has been grounded for a week beginning Thursday, that punishment should carry over to the weekend at the other parent’s home.
If you need legal assistance with any Family Law issues then please fill out the Evaluation Form!