Many people notice that there are significant changes in their child’s behavior before and after extended visits with the noncustodial parent. There are set visitation schedules so that children have some structure and understanding of what they are going to do, but it’s a greater benefit to brief your child for an extended amount of time living elsewhere. When a child is used to living in one area and is uprooted to be able to visit with the other parent, things can be incredibly hard for them.
There are many things that you are going to want to do in preparation for your child’s summer away. These are all simple things that can really help your child to feel secure and stable as they are transitioning between the two homes.
Tips to Prepare Your Child for Summer Visits
Help Your Child Get Excited
As much as you might want to keep your children with you forever, the other parent deserves to spend time with them and build a relationship. If you want to help your child to be more emotionally prepared for their summer visit, the best thing that you can do is encourage excitement. Talk to your ex about the things that he/she will be doing with your child and let your child know that fun is planned. Also, talk about all of their favorite activities with the other parent. This is going to really help them extinguish any feelings of nervousness that they might have. While it might be hard for you to watch, you need to be able to understand that this is in their best interest.
Make Something to Help Them Know When They’ll Be Home
You can get as creative as you want. Take the time to make a little something special to help your child know what is going on, and track when they will be back with you. A calendar or a special series of boxes, bags, or cards that they take with them will help them to know when they’ll be home. You may also find that this is a great way to share with your children everything that you love about them and all of the little things that you will miss while they’re gone.
Discuss Options for Communication
You should certainly agree to terms of communication with your ex, before you talk to your child about how you’ll communicate while they are with the other parent. Once you have come to terms with how communication will work, you can talk to your child and let them know the plan. Ask your child what would help them and let them know that you will do your best to be available for regular phone calls, FaceTime, or anything else that they need.
Be Careful with Communication
There are things that you might say that will actually cause your child to have a harder time. If you say things like, “I miss you,” your child might feel like they are the cause of your pain. This could lead them to feeling responsible for your unhappiness when they are not home. You should instead use phrases like, “I love you” and, “I’m thinking about you.” These are all more helpful phrases that you can use to communicate your feelings.
Work with Your Ex on Routines & Activities
Another thing that you should think about is how you can make the transition between homes easier. This will require you to have thorough communication with your ex. You will want to write out and then discuss everything that is normal day-to-day routine for you and your child while they are at your home. Talk about daily activities and things that your children enjoy doing. If your child lives in an area that is far from where they will be spending summers, then help the other parent look for their favorite activities local to them. This can really help your child to make friends and have a great time on their visit.
Teach Your Child that Both Homes are “Home”
When your child feels like one parent’s home is “home” and the other parent’s home is a place to visit, it can cause the child to feel left out and like a stranger in the home where they are visiting. Stress to your child that they have two homes and teach them from the beginning that they are just as welcome at one as they are the other.
Being divorced is hard work. Sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings and really work with your ex to do what is best for your children. You will have to work to find things that you can agree upon for the betterment of your children. Both parents will have to give and compromise in order to make sure that your child lives the best life possible.
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