Help Kids Adjust to a New Home After Divorce

Navigating life following a separation or divorce is emotional and full of challenges. Moving out of a shared property and establishing a new home can be one of the hardest parts, especially if children are involved.

It’s difficult enough for children to see the dissolution of their parents’ relationship and the family unit they knew; it can become even more difficult if they have to move out of the neighbourhood, switch schools, leave familiar friends and places, and/or get used to moving between two homes.

In an article for TD Insurance magazine, Andrew Haines, a representative for the One Parent Families Association of Canada, recommends that a couple stay in the family home at least until a “separation agreement is defined.” The extra time can help both parties sort out their finances and figure out the best solution for the children.

When one parent is ready to move, Haines recommends trying to stay within or close to the same neighbourhood – even if it means renting. This will help reduce the upheaval that kids experience. School and friend routines can remain the same, causing much less of a disruption to established routines.

To help children feel comfortable in a new home, involve them in the process of getting set up, and try to create a sense of familiarity, particularly in their own bedrooms. Bring them along to help pick paint colours and furniture, let them select their own bedding, and be sure to add touches from the previous family house to create a sense of home.

If custody is shared, shuffling between two homes will take getting used to. Help children feel less anxiety about switching by keeping some essentials (underwear, pajamas and toiletries) at both homes. Create a packing list or a plan that children can follow when it’s time to move from one to the other.