After separation or divorce, children need time to get used to living between two homes and sleeping in different environments. During this period, they will need understanding and support from both parents to help them adjust to the changes but there are also a few practical things you can do as well to make their sleep transition easier.
Make a Buddy Bag
Your kids should have clothing, shoes, personal items (toothbrushes, etc.) in each of the homes but if they have a special blanket, stuffed animal or other important item they need as part of their sleep routine, make a Buddy Bag. This is a bag that stays by the front door and is packed with the special items right before they leave so it’s not forgotten when they go back and forth.
Create the Right Sleep Environment in Each Home
It’s hard for your child to fall asleep (and stay asleep) if their room isn’t one that’s favourable to sleep. Make sure both the rooms your child sleeps in are dark, cool, and quiet (and for younger kids, one with a consistent low-level noise like a fan or white noise machine). The best temperature is one that is comfortably cool, somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have Similar Sleep Schedules
Keep bedtime and wakeup times as similar as possible at each house. It can be confusing for the child if they have different sleep rules at each home. For instance, they can stay up late at one house and have to go to bed earlier at the other.
Routines Can Be Different
While you want to keep the schedule similar (the times your children go to sleep and wakeup), the things each parent does with the child before bed can be different at each house. Children are very good at managing different routines so long as you are clear and predictable.
Keep Your Child Updated on The Schedule
Just like an adult, stress can affect a child’s sleep. A consistent routine helps make them feel secure. Be sure to always keep the kids updated on any changes in the daily, weekly, and monthly schedules you and your ex-partner follow.
Lastly, it’s important that both parents keep the lines of communication open to let each other know if there are any sleep problems occurring at home but also to stay on the same page when instilling sleep rules at their homes. Making the transition between households should be a priority for your child and there are professional family support services that can help you arrange family meetings and mediations.