Every Wednesday night and every other weekend my children have to spend time with their dad. This is normal for parents who divorce. Fortunately the time they spend away from home isn’t very much. It is a great thing for children to have a relationship with both parents, which is why the court system requires this, even if it’s the minimal amount of time that’s allowed, they still need to spend time with the other parent.
The only problem is when parenting is not the same in each household. This lack of harmony tends to lead to a struggle when the children return “home.” Everything is different between my house and their dad’s house: bedtime, play time, even mealtime is sort of polar opposite. The hardest time is on Sunday nights when they return home. It’s around 7:30pm (bedtime on a school night) and they are so excited to be home and have to tell me all about what they did over the weekend. Then comes the struggle. It’s a constant battle to deprogram what they were used to the last 48 hours. Deprogram is the exact word for what takes place during the next day or so. It’s not that they are treated badly or anything, the children have to be kindly reminded that they’re with mom now and the rules are a little different. Every set of separated parents knows what I am referencing.
When they are away for the weekend my kids are allowed to eat things I would never purchase, and I don’t believe they have any sort of bedtime. So when they come home it’s back to healthy meals and a clockwork bedtime. I have always had to prepare healthy meals for my children consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grain everything. I was raised this way because unfortunately my family has a long history with heart problems.
So how do I reverse the routine of the weekend?
I try to remain as calm as can be, cuddle with them as much as possible (something they love to do that doesn’t always happen at dad’s house), and return to a routine.The more stability I can offer, the better it is for them.
It’s so common now for parents to split up and a split can have a range of effects on the children. If we approach these matters with grace and remember that little ears and eyes are watching and recording everything we do, I think it makes these changes easier. To calm my kids and remind them where they are, we read books and we talk. Communication is key, and letting kids learn how to express their feelings through talk and play really helps. I have been doing this with my children for almost 3 years now, and because I practice these things with them it has made the traveling back and forth much easier for all of us.