Parents in two-home families often wonder what works best for kids: should the parent coming on duty pick up the children? Or, should the parent on duty drop the children off to their co-parent?
Since parenting plans often require that transportation arrangements be specified, we suggest that the current residential parent drop off to the receiving parent.
So if Mom has the kids, she should pack them up and take them to Dad’s when it’s his turn, instead of him coming and waiting for them to be ready.
If we look at transition from the children’s perspective, having Mom or Dad arrive in the driveway to “take you away” from their current comfort zone is often difficult. If children dawdle and resist transition, the parent waiting in the driveway or doorstep and the parent in the home may feel increasing stress, which gets telegraphed to the children.
When the duty parent works with the children to pack their things, prepare for the transition, get into the car together, and facilitates the transition to the children’s co-parent, the children often feel more supported by both parents. The receiving parent can be truly ready to receive he children, whether that’s with ample time to help them place their things in their rooms, or to sit down to a meal together.
Transitions are stressful for kids under the best of circumstances. Allowing a half hour or so for the adjustment from one home to another is common and needed. Plan to receive your children with nothing else to do but to help them resettle into your home.
Giving them time to arrive: body, mind and spirit, is part of your job as a parent.
Once children are comfortable in their two-home family and both homes are fairly stable, parents will often do whatever makes sense and is easiest. Great! No worries. Just know that when children are struggling with leaving one parent, that parent can help the child transition by walking from start to finish through the transition with lots of support and love as they hand off to their co-parent.