Alejandra Gutierrez, LCSW

5 Ways to ease the transition between homes

Coordinating the transition between each parents’ home is one of the toughest parts of coparenting. Taking care of these little details can make all the difference on your child’s ability to emotionally regulate and develop healthy attachment towards both parent figures. The transition is a ritual of connection between each home, communicating to the child that they are safe in your combined care.

 

Many parents don’t realize this- but the child doesn’t view your two separate houses as two homes. In a child’s mind the concept of home is tied to all of their safe spaces at once. In short, Daddy’s home + Mommy’s house = your child’s idea of “home.” When they think of home they have to find a way to integrate these separate spaces. It’s your job to help them.

Parent’s tend to miss this connection because they aren’t accounting for the developmental stage of their child. Parents also tend to focus solely on their home and space. Effective coparenting relies upon parents collaborating for the good of your children.Let’s examine some tips to ease the transition for your child and promote wellness in your family.

The receiving parent picks up

When you drop the kids off they can often get the feeling that they are being left. From an attachment standpoint this can be harmful. If you’re curious about this idea of attachment,  everyone has a different attachment style and it is tied to your early experiences with connection. You can read more about attachment here.  Your goal is to help your child develop a secure attachment. Secure attachment will meet your child’s need for security, calm, and will allow for healthy development of your child’s nervous system. This is one of your main tasks as a parent. At the start of your parenting time you should pick up your child. If you have this sort of relationship I’d recommend you coming to the door and greeting your co parent and child warmly. When you have the receiving parent pick up the child it can create a sense of expectation and excitement. Instead of “mommy/daddy leave me” it’s “mommy/daddy always comes back for me.”  

Duplicate everything

One tough thing about having two homes is the lack of consistency. I’ll give a quick example. For adults, sleeping with a different blanket or without a comfort item isn’t a big issue. For your child it matters.  Consistency and predictability is everything for tiny humans. Depending on the age of your child it can create emotional distress.If you and your co-parent are close enough, coordinate convenient buys such as sheets/comforters, toothbrushes, bedtime book, and comfort items. 

Transition rituals

The transition is a ritual of connection between each home, communicating to the child that they are safe in your combined care. Maintain a specific routine that you are able to realistically  keep EVERY time no matter how tired you are. It can be really simple such as taking off your bag and shoes, getting a snack and asking “how was your time at your _____’s house.” Usually when children transition into your home they can benefit from a small amount of dedicated attention. Fifteen minutes of undivided attention usually meets this need.

Patience with tantrums

The first day transitioning back into your home will be difficult.  You’ve chosen co parenting because it’s the best fit for your family. Still, create space to acknowledge the messiness. This will validate your child’s experience and create an avenue for clear communication when they’re older. If your kids are younger this will come in the form of tantrums that make you want to claw your eyes out. If your kids are older they may be more withdrawn and disinterested in spending time with you. Expressing these emotions of withdrawal or frustration  is how they make sense of a changing family dynamic . They need you to be calm and steady so they can experience their emotions safely. 

These 4 steps are a great way to start. If you’re looking for weekly resources to keep you in the process of promoting wellness in your family subscribe to the blog. There are so many aspects to promoting wellness in your home. It’s an ongoing pursuit  of striving towards the different aspects of the wellness wheel. For an easy guide check out or Modern Family Wellness Checklist.


Kandyce McConico, MS, LPC