Children of families going through a divorce face upheaval on various fronts. One parent likely moved out or the child moved with a parent to a new home. Normal family time spent together changed to time spent shuttling between two homes. Along with numerous household changes emotions run high and tension abounds. During this period of uncertainty, routines provide a much needed sense of normalcy for the child.
A need for normalcy
The unfamiliar circumstances of the initial separation process lead to anxiety and tension for children. While a transition time will not be without hardship, taking steps to help your child transition will make the process more manageable. Routines provide structure and stability to minimize tension and fear.
Whether parents decide to create a new routine or modify one already in place, it needs to be sustainable. Appropriate routines will vary for each family, but things like a reading a bedtime story or a Friday movie and pizza night provide consistency. Whatever you choose, it should be mutually enjoyable so both the parent and child look forward to it.
Make the unfamiliar feel like home
Recognizing the importance of regularity and routine brings new normalcy to a household. While home used to mean a single residence with both parents, after a divorce a child has two homes. Parents must remind the child that home now means a residence with each parent, which may feel unfamiliar initially. A routine allows the child to feel at home with the parent they are spending time with.
Routines do not need to be the same at both households, although consistency with basic household rules helps. Routines function as a marker of time and bridge the child from previous lifestyle to a new sense of normal. The best thing you can provide for your child during divorce is stability and something to rely on as they adjust.