Perhaps the biggest tragedy in the whole divorce process is the effect upon children, especially young children. The one thing that one can be sure of in a divorce is that you and your spouse will not be living under the same roof.
Having said that it's becoming not unheard of for divorced couples to stay under the same roof because there just isn't enough money to afford somewhere else to live. That makes for an even trickier situation for the kids.
Two homes are not better than one
This usually means that they will have to get their heads around the idea of living in two homes sometimes not even in the same area. This is never going to be easy and will require the cooperation of both of you plus a great deal of love, kindness and patience.
This can only be achieved by both of you placing your children's physical, emotional and psychological needs at the centre of the divorce process.
Talk to your kids about it early
It's always a good idea to talk to your children early in the divorce process about starting a new chapter in their family life. Emphasise that some things will remain constant whilst others will change. The keystone of the transition is to allow them to feel equally loved and wanted by both parents in both homes.
That way you will make decisions that are child-centered and not based on your needs for getting back, proving your point or hurting your children's other parent. If you did that during the divorce those times are over it's now down to making it as good as possible for the kids.
Very often it's the small things that really make the difference
Things that appear small or insignificant to adults especially those caught up in the maelstrom of the divorce process can often be extremely significant to young children. Here are some thoughts and ideas that may help your kids make the transition to the uncertain world of two homes.
They need to know that they are still loved
All children need to know that they are equally loved and wanted by both parents in both homes. The disruption of physically moving from one to another can be reduced by avoiding the need to pack a suitcase when children move between Mum and Dad's homes. This also fosters a sense of belonging to both households rather than being a visitor in each.
Private space in both homes is vital
Ideally each child should have some private space in each home where they can keep their things. A space that will always be there and that remains undisturbed whilst they are away. This process will be a great deal easier if the relationship between the former spouses is both positive and cordial.
This should allow the family to get together to divide up their stuff by letting the kids make some of the decisions about where certain items will remain or be moved. This will give a greater sense of involvement in the process of transition rather than it being imposed solely by events outside of their control.
Get some new stuff
Many parents start by taking the kids shopping for some new things so they'll have their own set of stuff in each of their homes. Little things like new pjamas, underwear, towels and shampoo can make a big difference in helping your children feel more involved in the whole process.
Helping the kids feel more comfortable at this crucial time in the divorce process is really important as getting it wrong will make this transition all the more difficult and stressful for them.