Preserving a Routine for a Child of Divorce


  • Between school life and home life, children of divorce need the consistency of a routine.
  • Studies show students do better when having a set bed time.
  • Communication can be beneficial among co-parents attempting to preserve a routine.

For a child of divorce, there’s always a little bit steeper of a hill to climb during the transitional period. Depending on their age, the changing landscape of their life could leave them focused on either the uncertainty of the future or in agony over losing the two-parent household construct. Either way, they are forced to adjust to changes that are based on the decisions of others.

The day-to-day of a child is important to their overall development. Depending on a child’s age and maturity, it can be a vital component to how they function at home, at school, with their peers, and even with their family members.

Routine research

The link between having schedule and structure at home and academic success is consistently being studied. For example, with adding a set time to go to sleep, almost six in 10 pupils achieve at least five grades of C- or better, according to a study from the Prince’s Trust, the Prince of Wales’s youth charity.

In addition, children with lower grades also were twice as likely as children with higher grades to not have a regularly scheduled family meal time.

Academic success

Having a set time for homework also can be beneficial. When children are aware that they are coming from the safety of school toward the uncertainty of their home life, they need an outlet to retreat to. They need to be able to focus on something constructive to help block out aspects of their lives that they cannot control. That starts with homework.

It also can be beneficial for a parent to engage in their studies with them. Understanding what is going on in their school life can help a parent make sense of how they feel about specific subjects, teachers, or topics in the classroom. While studies have shown the negative aspects involved in a parent doing a child’s homework, lending a helping hand can add a sense of comfort during the often tumultuous struggle of a divorce.

Bed time

Many times, children of divorce are sent into another room, while the adults in their lives hash out many of the issues that they face. While the television or computer that awaits the child may provide routine comfort in the way that it provides the fleeting consistency that they are looking for in their day-to-day, the television or computer is not the one who is supposed to be raising their child, nor should these outlets be allowed to keep children awake at all hours of the night.

This issue actually has an effect on child’s performance at school. The Prince’s Trust found that a quarter of the 2,136 younger individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 years old did not have a set bedtime while growing up. Of those surveyed, 39 percent left school with fewer than five grades between the range of an A to a C.

For children who are going through the upheaval and uncertainty that divorce and a subsequent custody battle can entail, going to bed is a consistent outlet, that allows a child to recharge and regroup each and every day. It gives them the clarity and focus to achieve better grades school, giving them the tools necessary to strive for more in the future.

Sense of normalcy

The size of a change in a child’s life matters to them. Children tend to adapt better to bigger changes like parental divorce, when they are applied in the context of their existing routine, according to Aha! Parenting, a parenting resource site. Continuing the routine and structure of their daily life gives them the opportunity to learn how to constructively control themselves and their environment.

With the chaos of a divorce consistently looming during this difficult period in their lives, kids still need the basic structures of putting things away or cleaning up, in order to hang onto a sense of normalcy. Self-care routines, such as bathing, grooming, and brushing one’s teeth, also create a structure that feels familiar and safe.

The sensitivity required to pull off keeping a child of divorce’s sense of normalcy intact is rather great. It will also require the ability to communicate on some level with your co-parent. It can be challenging and sometimes impossible trying to maintain a sense of normalcy spanning two houses with two parents and possibly, two sets of rules.

Discipline and communication

Discipline and consequences for bad behavior are two aspects of co-parenting among divorced couples that can be challenging, but ultimately, staying on the same page for the sake of the child or children involved will offer the most future growth and benefit.

While a child may not have their previous vision of what they believe a family entails, it’s important to reassure them and let them know that despite all of the difficulties involved in the divorce experience, they are loved and accepted. They are a part of your family, and you are a part of theirs. Creating that larger frame can offer a child comfort in their moments of fear and uncertainty, giving them the reassurance they need to continue their routine and continuing growing as a person.

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