How to Use the Home Sweet Homes Co-parenting Journal: Guidelines, Tips and Tricks
Home Sweet Homes takes a new and unique approach toward co-parenting. While most co-parenting resources are geared toward adults, this is a tool created specifically to support children of divorce/separation. It is a physical book that combines the benefits of a journal and planner that always stays with a child in his/her two homes. Want more information? Check out our 2-minute Introduction to Home Sweet Homes video here.
Being a completely new tool and concept, I’ve put together a list of guidelines, tips and tricks that will help you get started or help guide your decision as to whether this tool is right for your family.
While these guidelines have been compiled based off my family’s experience as well as my personal advice, all family dynamics differ so what is applicable to my family may not be for yours and vice versa. It’s important that as the parent, you hone in on your child's response and reaction to the tool. If and when in doubt, seek professional advice from your therapist or counselor.
General Guidelines, Tips & Tricks for Using Home Sweet Homes Co-parenting Journal
- There is no right or wrong way to use the tool.
- Let your child know this journal is a safe space. Encourage your child to share whatever is on his/her mind.
- Determine with your child who gets to see it. Can grandparents, other relatives, or friends see it? Respecting your child’s wishes for privacy is important to preserving trust.
- In my family’s journal, we only allow positive talk and language. Lessons learned are encouraged!
- Don't force a child to participate. If a child doesn’t want to participate at that time, day, etc. put it aside and come back to it at a later time.
- We like to have a special pen and color for each person. This is not mandatory, there’s something about having a dedicated pen color that makes the process special.
- Establish a similar routine for your child to fill out the journal across their two homes (if possible). Children crave consistency! For my son, whether at his dads home or mine, we always fill it out at bedtime, right before we read books.
- Don’t feel pressured to fill out everything or do every activity. My co-parent and I don’t! As single parents there just isn’t enough time to do it all. You may come back to activities at any time.
- Stickers for everyone! Parents especially should use them to celebrate successes and achievements by your child.
- Final rule of thumb: Let this tool be a place that provides your child joy. Normally, I’d try to steer things to be uniform and consistent, but, I’ve let all that go as this tool is for my child! Let your child have fun, let your child scribble over it, write things upside down, backwards, whatever - It’s all okay and wonderful.
Guidelines, Tips & Tricks: For Parents
When beginning, have a conversation with your co-parent about using this tool including:
• Your/their level of involvement and commitment.
• How much is okay to disclose about what happens at each home.
• How it will be filled out at each respective home. See #7 above.
- Keep the focus on your child. Always, always, always!
- No adult topics allowed. Your business stays out of the journal.
- Be respectful. What is written in the journal will be there… forever!
- The journal is not a way for you to keep dibs on your co-parent.
- This is not a competition between you and your co-parent.
- Nor is it meant to make your co-parent feel bad about anything. Hopefully collaborating on this helps improve your relationship!
- Your feelings matter. Be aware of and honest with how you feel when using it. Ask yourself: Am I/my co-parent in a healthy emotional mindset to participate?
- Praise your co-parent for their participation and commitment to help your child.
- Treasure your conversations and moments with your child when you journal. Using this tool can and will help bring you closer and maintain a strong bond.