Making their second house a homely one
It would help if you could think of their perspective and try to understand what would make the Saturday more appealing for them in your new home (eg making sure they have some of their belongings with them, considering inviting over familiar friends and family, etc).
Simple things like involving them in the choice of furniture in their bedrooms or doing a family decorating project can make a difference.
You need to start new interesting routines with them in your new home, such as cooking together or going for a walk in a local park.
At six and eight years old, your girls are at a good age to talk through options. Sit down and talk to them and listen to their ideas and feelings. Things seem to be going well on the Wednesday night. Think about what works in the routine that night.
Could you consider a second weekday night as an alternative?
The key to moving forward is negotiating an agreed solution with your girls’ mother. Children generally toe the line with what their parents decide once there is an agreement between them.
If you are in dispute, try to seek meditation in order to reach resolution. The important thing is to focus on your children’s needs which includes a quality relationship with both their parents; for their parents to co-operate and co-parent constructively; and their need for security to be understood (and thus changes post-separation to be minimised).
There are a number of creative solutions that you can bring to the table. For example, you could agree with your children’s mother that you will spend Saturday and Sunday in the “family home” when she can go out or spend time elsewhere. This can be at least for an initial transition period as you work to establish your new home and a good routine for the children.
In some modern thinking about parental separation, some people propose that the original “family home” should be seen as the children’s home rather than belonging to the parents, and that the parents can take alternate times being responsible for the children in this house.
This can break a common post-separation scenario where you might have a residential parent who is burdened by the challenges of parenting largely alone and a non-residential parent who is struggling to stay involved.
Finally, do seek support in trying to resolve matters. There are many good organisations that support families post- separation such as One Family ( onefamily.ie) or Relationships Ireland ( relationshipsireland.com). The ParentsPlus Charity which I am involved with has developed a Parenting when Separated course that is being rolled out nationally that people can attend for low cost or free of charge. See parentsplus.ie/separationfor more details.
Dr JOHN SHARRYis a social worker and psychotherapist and director of Parents-Plus charity. Questions should be emailed to email@example.com