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Helping your kids adjust to a new home after divorce

Are your kids finding it hard to adjust to your pending divorce? Sometimes it takes quite a bit before they feel comfortable with the "new normal."

While you don't have magic powers to wave a wand and make their cares fade away, there are things that both parents can do to make their children feel at home and welcome in the parents' new homes.

Moving out of the family home

Divorce is expensive, and sacrifices have to be made in many cases. When one of those sacrifices involves selling the family home in which the children grew up, it's especially difficult.

Now, they will have to adjust to two new homes instead of just one, which would be the case if either mom or dad kept the house.

One way to flip the script is to get the kids excited about painting and decorating their new living spaces. Within reason, it is often helpful to give them carte blanche to express their inner interior decorator. If your angsty teenage goth begs for black walls, compromise by suggesting something much more temporary, like cool black lighting to make the room an eerie teen cave.

Bring comforts from old home

Not all kids are going to be excited about the changes. Younger children may be especially affected by the move and pine for the familiarity of their old room. Be sure to incorporate his or her favorite mementos from the former family home into the new setting to stave off feelings of loss.

When the kids are transitioning from mom's new home to the other parent's, pack their favorite "lovies" to help them feel secure. Tuck in the Batman or ballerina night light to make them sleep easier on nights at the other parent's home.

Initiate a "packing plan"

Inevitably, some items get left behind on occasion when shuttling between the two parents' homes. Involve the children in the packing process if they are old enough.

Provide duplicate items when practical to eliminate the need for major packing/unpacking. Special items such as sleep toys or blankets will probably need to be packed, so ask your child to be the one responsible for making sure the teddy bear made the trip.

Pack the night before so there is no frantic last-minute rush when it's easy to forget the soccer shorts or swimsuit.

Calendars are vital

Teach your child how to keep an organized calendar. Even young kids can learn to color code days with mom or weekends with dad. It gives them a sense of continuity and stability to know where they will be and when.

Ask for help

Some kids will take a separation or divorce harder than others. If your child is especially distraught or depressed, ask his or her pediatrician for a referral to a child counselor for a few sessions.

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