As you and your soon-to-be-ex begin co-parenting across your two homes, you may find that the days where you’re moving your child from one home to the other are the most troublesome. These are likely the days when you have the most direct contact with your co-parent, so you’re dealing with the anxiety of that as well as either making sure your child as everything they need or getting them settled back into your home.
Don’t minimize how stressful these transitions can be for your child, no matter what their age. You can help make things easier for them. Let’s look at a few ways to do that.
Minimize what your child has to bring
Co-parenting experts typically recommend that both parents have duplicates of as much as possible (bedding, toiletries and clothing essentials) in both homes so that kids — and parents — don’t have to spend a lot of time packing and unpacking. Having to bring a suitcase between homes can make a child feel like a visitor in one if not both homes.
Don’t bring your emotions into it
Of course, you’ll miss your child — but focus on helping them anticipate the things they’ll do with their other parent. Don’t make them feel guilty for leaving you. If you’re having issues with your co-parent, deal with them another time – not during the exchange. If your child comes to associate these transitions with their parents fighting, it’s only natural that they’ll dread them.
Have a plan in place
Even if you haven’t yet started working on any co-parenting documents, it’s wise to have a schedule in place and share it with your child. This includes specifying who’s dropping them off and picking them up. Some parents choose a midway point between homes for their exchanges.
As you find out what works and what doesn’t in your early days of co-parenting, you can use the lessons learned to create a parenting plan that will make things easier on everyone. With sound legal guidance, you can develop a plan that minimizes confusion and conflict.