Divorce is tough on families, and there’s no simple way around that, but there are ways you can ensure the process is as smooth as possible for your children—and the home is where this begins.
For children whose parents are separating or divorcing, it’s important that the home remains a safe place, one where they can ask questions, process changes, express their emotions, and maintain the routines of normal life.
Here are three ways that you can ensure the home remains a safe, comfortable, and secure space for your kids during a divorce.
Making the Divorce Process Easier for Your Children
Give kids plenty of notice before a parent moves out
Once you’ve told your children about the divorce, be sure to give plenty of advance notice before any parties move, whether that’s the children themselves or one of the parents. Kids will need plenty of time to process the information, ask questions, and adapt to the change.
Because you want the home to remain a place where children feel comforted, normal, safe, and secure, ensure that you openly discuss any changes in living arrangements—let them know clearly what will and will not be changing—and make sure your children know they are free to ask any questions they may have.
Maintain a regular routine
Because your children will be experiencing a great deal of change, it’s important to maintain a regular routine so that your children are able to lean on the normalcy of their day-to-day.
Establishing a regular morning routine, after-school routine, and evening routine that include self-care practices, regular day-to-day obligations (like chores, homework, etc.), and fun, will help maintain a sense of security and reduce anxiety.
Make sure your kids know that they can carry on with being children as best they can—engaging in normal play at home and inviting friends over for playdates and sleepovers. By keeping the home a predictable place, you have helped ease the stress brought on by the changes.
Make space for communication and expression
Allow kids to have open communication with both parents, as long as its safe. Make sure they know that lines of communications remain open, even if one parent has moved out of the house.
Make sure they are able to see, call, text, or email with parents as they like. And parents should take care to not create communication obstacles for each other. Conversation between parents and children should be encouraged and facilitated by all parties.
Be sure to discuss co-parenting arrangements and strategies before the divorce is finalized, and communicate these plans with your children as early as possible. Give them time to process the information and ask questions.
Part of open communication during divorce is about making the time and space for bonding activities between parents and children. Spending time with your kids cooking, playing sports and games, creating art, going on walks, or playing at the park are all ways to open those lines of communication with your child and express your love for them in the midst of a tough time.
Bonding activities will also give your child avenues for expression, which is important for processing the complicated emotions that accompany divorce. Make the home a safe space for children to express and process their feelings.
Matilda Davies lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is a health and wellness writer and artist. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs. A child of divorce herself, she believes that children can not only survive but thrive during the transition.