When a couple decides to part ways, it is often hardest on the children. They are forced to adjust to a new routine and a new or secondary home. To ease them into their new reality, parents need to create a warm, inviting and personalized space for the children so that they feel comfortable. Here are some tips on how to make a new or second dwelling feel like home:
1) Create a ‘Kids’ Zone’. Ensure there is a designated space for the children. Having their own bedroom will make them feel less like a guest and more like they’re at home. If finances don’t permit, try to make the shared space special to them or designate a part of that space specifically for the children. Ensure the space has the functionality the children require such as sleep space, homework space, play space, space for friends, etc.
2) Involve the children in the process. No matter how old they are, have the children help decorate. If hiring a professional, have them consult with the children too. If they are older, set a budget and partner with the children in the design of their space. If they are younger, let them pick out their own pillows, bedding and decorations. If budget is a factor, create some DIY projects they can help with to save money. If they have a hand in creating their space, they will be more excited about it and it will be a more positive experience for them despite their parents’ separation.
3) Don’t be a hotel. Ensure they have a second set of key things so that they do not have to pack a suitcase every time they come over. They need to feel like it is their home, not a vacation. They may even want their room decorated the same way as their other home – which is fine. A second toothbrush and other toiletries, a good supply of clothing and pajamas, linens, toys, school/art supplies, etc. would be great to have. If they have a specific item they are attached to, try to purchase a second one. This way when they come over, they are coming home, rather than coming to visit.
4) No surprises. Keep a calendar visible that shows the children’s extra-curricular activities, when they will be with mom and dad, any family events they will participate in, etc. This way, they will feel more in control.
These tips will help ease children into their new environment and routine. If they are in a happy space, it will definitely help boost their mood and help them better cope with some of the feelings they may be having related to the separation. Even if it takes a small investment, it will be well worth it in the end.