Transitioning Between Homes

You Need a Really Big, Durable Bag

Each Friday, our kid’s transition between homes and what may be the world’s largest tote bag makes the transition with them.  You will be amazed at the amount of stuff you will likely be lugging back and forth for some years to come. You’re going to need a really big bag.

Do yourself a favor and find the biggest, most durable, open tote-bag you can find.  I stress that the bag should be an open, tote-style bag. You’re not going to want a bag that you have to close or zip up; I have yet to find a closable bag that works as well as the mother-of-all-totes that we use.  Having an open, easy-to-access bag makes for a quick-and-easy packing (something you’ll be doing a lot of as a co-parent).

transition between parent's houses

You don’t need a bag that is fashionable or expensive.  What you do want is a functional, durable, and convenient bag.  Here is an excellent example of what I’m talking about (available from Amazon.com).  I do not have these particular bags, but they appear to be similar to the one we do have.  They are about the same size and are made of a durable material that is resistant to wear and tear.  This seems like a decent deal for three of these bags; keep an extra in the trunk of your car. They always come in handy.

The Transition Checklist

I can distinctly recall getting a call from my ex just after I had crawled into my comfy bed on a cold mid-winter night.  I had forgotten to put our daughter’s medicine in the BAB. Great. Within five minutes I was out of my comfy bed into the arctic night air, making the 10-mile drive to the ex’s house to deliver the medicine.  This wasn’t the first time that I or my ex had had to make such a trip. It took a while, but I finally wised-up and put together a checklist of the items that needed to go with the children.

Some of these items may or may not apply in your particular situation, and some of these items are season-specific.  It’s always a good idea to check the upcoming weather forecast to be sure your children have everything they may need.  This checklist of items is a starting point, but it should give you a good idea of the types of items that will need to transition with your children:

  • Prescription medications
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, hair brush, etc.)
  • Clothing
  • Boots
  • Hat and gloves
  • Snow-pants
  • Coat or jacket
  • School bag
  • Lunch box/bag
  • Homework, permission slips, etc.
  • Favorite comfort item (stuffed animal, blanket, pillow, etc.)

What Goes Forth Must Come Back

My ex and I allow our children to bring toys, books, and other item between homes.  The only real rule (and not a strictly-enforced one at that) is that the items eventually come get returned to their place of origin.  I think it was a bit tough on my ex and I initially because we had the mindset that if we purchased something for our children individually, then it belonged at our respective houses.  The problem with that mindset is that it is self-serving and only punishes our children.

Why should your child have to be without their favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or toy, just because it wasn’t a shared parental purchase? That’s lame.  Haven’t the children had to put up with enough crap already? To deny your child a simple, comforting favorite item, that gives them sense of stability during what is already a difficult experience, all because you feel a sense of ownership, is a petty thing to do.  That being said, I would not agree that sending a favorite large or heavy item back-and-forth; the bicycle and collection of 20,000 baseball cards is not something I would agree to regularly lug around.

For occasions and holidays such as Christmas and birthdays, when your children will be receiving gifts from you and your family (or from your ex and his/her family), how will you and your ex handle that?  Your children are going to be excited about their new gifts, but may need to leave the celebration and go directly to the other parent’s home or event. If there’s a new gift they really want to take with them, my ex and I would let them take it along.

Try to be patient and practical.  Your children need to understand that it’s simply not practical or possible for you and their other parent to be their personal movers.  Conversely, you and your ex need to understand that children are going to want to have their things at-hand and may be very excited about a new gift.  Pick your battles, and try to compromise if you can.

TIP:  A good working rule that we use (and often make exceptions to) is: If it fits in the BAB (Big-Ass Bag) or they can carry it, it can come along.

Label the Clothing

My ex has an amazing ability to remember clothing.  Her ability is both creepy and weird, but it comes in handy on occasion.  I am often at the mercy of my ex telling me which of article of kid’s clothing belong to me.  Though she denies it, I swear she keeps the hip-est of our children clothes at her house, hoping I will forget about them (yeah, I’m kidding).  The only way for me to keep track is to label their clothes.

Do yourself a favor and buy a Sharpie to label the clothes that belong to you.  I truly don’t think my ex steals our kid’s clothes, and the only reason I label them is so I can tell which clothes don’t belong to me.

Continue Reading: Handling the Finances as a Co-Parent