“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
The crispness of fall indeed brings new life–the smell of a bonfire, the vision of changing leaves, and the feel of a chill in the air. Yet, the new life fall brings also challenges children. And their parents.
New classrooms, new friends, and new schedules confuse children. That confusion leads to fear. Helping children navigate these changes tests parents’ resources and patience.The task increases exponentially for parents in different homes.
Parents can address the challenge by setting routines.
Routine offers security to children in divorce
Children thrive under routine. When children experience a steady pattern to their day, the predictability brings security. Much like muscle memory for an athlete or pianist, daily routine offers experiential memory to children.
The routine tells children what is expected and when. They learn that:
- when they get up they make their bed, eat their breakfast, and check their backpack,
- when they get home from school they do their homework, play outside for 30 minutes, and set the table for dinner, and
- when they get ready for bed they put their homework in their backpack, bathe, brush their teeth, and pick out clothes for the next day.
Knowing what to do when gives children the tools to succed. They know when to do homework and when they can play. They know what chores to complete so they can relax into their game. As routines become second nature, children begin to coast through their day.
Routines create connection between homes
When divorced parents follow similar routines in both homes, children navigate transitions between homes more effectively. Similar wake-up, homework, chore, play, and bedtime schedules allow children to continue coasting no matter which home they are in.
More, children who follow similar patterns in each home experience a connection between their homes. Rather than feeling that they have lost their family, children see their family as redefined but still whole.
Routines also define the individuality of each home
Consistency in routines creates predictability and security for children. At the same time, parents are different.
While parents do their children a huge favor when they follow the same general pattern, children also enjoy each parent’s unique twist. Dad may have a homecooked meal on the table at 6:00 while Mom serves a favorite take-out at 6:00. Dad’s bedtime routine may be wrestle, bathe, brush teeth then bed begininng at 7:30. Mom’s may be bathe, brush teeth, and read a book beginning at 7:30.
Each parent’s unique expression of the general routine nurtures children’s understandings of their parents’ individuality and shapes their relationship with each.
Fall brings new life. When adjusting to the new life challenges children, setting a routine that governs both homes brings security and peace.
If you have questions about parenting in divorce, call The Resolution Center at 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We look forward to helping you create healthy homes for your children.