Dr. Amy Stark
Child Psychologist, Author & Speaker
Teaching Families How to Live Divorced
and Self-Esteem for Girls and Boys
Food For Thought
Two Bedrooms To Clean
The majority of the teens that come to see me for therapy live part time with each of their parents. They have had to learn which days they are at dad's house and which days they are at mom's. Although they love both of their parents, the going back and forth thing is sometimes challenging. Chances are, you to go back and forth between two homes and you also know how hard it is to adjust to. There are some things you can do to make it easier for yourself:
1. Since you live at each parent's house part of the time, you now have two bedrooms. This means that you have to keep both rooms clean. Since you are not in either room full time and you might be running to school or the other parents house, you might have a tendency to tell yourself that you will pick things up the next time you are there. Trouble is that the mess gets worse when you don't keep on top of it. When you wait too long you might find yourself spending an entire Saturday cleaning, instead of doing something more fun. Try to keep on top of things in your room. Pick up as you go along. It really only takes five minutes or so every day to make the room orderly...and to put away your clean clothes. Although you might think it is easier to throw the clean clothes back in the hamper to avoid putting them away, let's face it. Your mom and dad know they just washed those clothes and make you put them away anyway. Save yourself some time and spend those few minutes right away.
2. Keep the items that go between households together and in the same spot. You might think you will remember where you put something, but chances are you won't. Pick one spot in your room where you put your things every time...that way you won't need to remember...you will know where your things are. This should include your sports uniform and equipment, your school uniform and your school materials.
3. Sometimes you might find yourself missing the parent you are not with. Even when you love both your parents, it's natural to feel this way. Try to find something you like about each house to focus on. This also helps you adjust as you go back and forth between the two rooms.
4. Sometimes you might have a hard time sleeping when you first go to your other parent's house. Make sure that you have pillows that are the same at both houses. For some reason having a pillow that is comfortable really helps you get to sleep.
5. I know how important it is to have your dog around you and how comforting that can be. If you have a dog that you love, sometimes parents will let you bring the dog back and forth when you visit. Talk to your other parent about having dog visitation. Some parents are okay with this. If your parent can't have your dog at their house, (sometimes because landlords won't allow pets), take a picture of your dog to their house.
6. Stay in touch with the parent you are not with. It helps you feel more connected when you get back. However, you should not be spending the majority of your time talking with your other parent on the phone. When this is happening something is wrong and your family needs some help working things out. You should be able to talk to your other parent on the phone for a few minutes then get back in the swing in the house where you are staying. When you feel that you miss your other parent too much it means you need help feeling more comfortable in the other parent's house.
7. Try to do things in the same order at both parent's houses. Have a snack and then do homework before anything else. If you take a bath or shower at night, do that at both homes. Go to bed and get up at the same time. When you keep things the same it helps you get in a routine even if you go back and forth.
Dr. Stark's Web site is not intended to take the place of a court-ordered advice or the advice of another professional. Although you may use the input found here to your best advantage, we recommend that you do so in conjunction with the work that you are doing with your individual therapist. Remember: this Web site is not therapy; it's knowledge and support.
Psychologist License PSY7828, California213 E City Place Drive
Santa Ana, CA 92705