One of the most important things that divorcing parents sharing custody of their children can do for them is to help them feel at home in both of their residences. Often, couples sell their home in the divorce and each move into apartments, condos or smaller houses.
It’s crucial that even if a child is going to spend more time with one parent than the other, they have a bedroom and other spaces that they can call their own. As one parenting expert says, “Physical space is a concrete representation of emotional space.”
Kids of almost any age can have some input
The best way to start is to get them involved in setting up their new room. A teen or preteen likely will have strong opinions about everything from paint color to wall art and furniture. Even a younger child can choose things like a new bedspread and sheets or a night light. This involvement can give them a sense of control when they may feel like they have little or none.
If your child’s new bedroom is much smaller than they’re used to or they have to share with a sibling, you can make additional space in the living room that they can use for study, reading or play. A small child may be happy with a place to spread out their Legos. An older one may require a more personalized space.
Minimize the need to pack and unpack
Many divorcing parents can’t give their kids their own bathroom when they downsize. However, you should keep toothbrushes and other toiletries there for them at all times. It’s also good to keep at least some basic items of clothing in both homes. The less a child has to pack and unpack as they transition between homes, the less they’ll feel like a visitor in either one.
You’ll likely be going through this process of settling your child into their new home(s) while you’re still in the divorce process. If issues come up that are worth including in your parenting plan (like what items each parent will have on-hand for their child), you’ll be able to negotiate with some legal guidance.