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Making parenting time transitions easier on your kids

Most divorced parents share custody of their children. Whether the kids transition between their parents' homes every weekend or only during holidays and vacations, these transition times can be stressful for both the parents and kids -- particularly at the beginning.

It's normal for parents to feel sad and perhaps even angry when they have to turn their kids over to their co-parent. However, your focus should be on making these transitions as easy, stress-free and guilt-free as possible for your kids. Following are some tips for doing that.

First, assure them that you and their co-parent have all of the details worked out. Having a calendar noting which days they'll be at each home is helpful. Let them know when they'll be picked up.

Let them know when you'll be checking in with them (mornings, bedtime, etc.). However, don't infringe on your co-parent's time with the kids by constantly calling and texting. Let them enjoy that time. As long as you reassure them that you'll be thinking about them, they shouldn't mind a daily check-in.

Make the transitions smooth, both logistically and emotionally. It's important for both parents to have their kids ready to go or to pick them up at the designated time. This isn't the place to punish your ex. Keep your emotions in check.

Don't make your kids feel guilty for leaving you. Tell them that you hope they have a great time and express enthusiasm and interest in their activities with their other parent, even if you don't feel it or your co-parent can give them experiences you can't.

Use this time when your kids are away to do something for yourself, whether it's a night out with friends, a spa day, a round of golf or just curling up with a good book. If your kids know that you're not sitting around pining for them, they'll be better able to enjoy their time with their other parent.

If your transitions become problematic (for example, if your co-parent repeatedly cancels or is late), try to work through those problems so they don't impact the kids. If necessary, your attorney can help you seek changes to your parenting plan.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Tips for Handling Parenting Time Transitions," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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