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I’ll Check My Calendar: The scheduling struggle that comes with divorce

Stuff to pack for Dad’s:

1. Toothbrush

2. Deodorant

3. Pajamas

4. Clothes for Sunday

5. Homework

Put everything in the bag, kiss  hermom goodbye, and Amanda Beusse ’12 is off to her dad’s house for the weekend.

For Beusse, transferring from house to house is a process that she has had to endure ever since her parents divorced when she was four years old. This is Beusse’s life, “It’s just part of the routine,” she says.  Beusse is not alone.

With the divorce rate currently sitting at around 50 percent, many students at Staples leave school only to pack their belongings and head over to Dad’s house. Living in two homes often requires a busy schedule, which attracts numerous factors that can sometimes cause each house to become very chaotic and stressful.

One factor includes remembering to pack every belonging necessary when traveling to each of the houses. One student, who has been granted anonymity, noticed the impact of her parent’s divorce trickling into her everyday school life due to forgetting certain items at each house.

“It gets super annoying to bring everything back and forth because I always end up forgetting something really crucial and having to go back and get it,” she said. “This has also really impacted my success as a student because there are many times that I forget an assignment at one house when I’m at the other.”

Like many students with divorced parents, Beusse also has to deal with the issue of forgetting important items at each house.

“I went shopping with my dad at one point to try to get clothes that I could keep at his house so that I wouldn’t have to pack as much when I went there, but I outgrew them quickly and they never felt like my clothes,” Beusse said.

Yet she soon discovered that even with the necessary items, she still never established her father’s house as her “home.”

For her entire life, Beusse has passed the wall of family pictures that greet her every day after school, she knows where every pot and pan hides in her kitchen, and she can curl up with her old stuffed animals and her favorite bed comforter at night. These aspects to her mom’s house are what make it feel like home, and they simply cannot be transferred to her dad’s house.

She even bought other items to try to adapt to her father’s house, such as deodorant, a toothbrush, face wash, the same shampoo and conditioner that she had at her mom’s, and a hairbrush.

“It didn’t work though, it still didn’t feel like my house,” Beusse said. “It feels like I’m living at somebody else’s house for the weekend.”

Casey Haffner ’12, whose parents divorced when she was just three years old, also has experienced firsthand the difficulty of adapting to a schedule. As a child, she remembers her schedule being very confusing. She often did not know what house she was supposed to be in. After 15 years, she has finally gotten used to the schedule, still acknowledging that the divorce impacts her life.

“Living in two different homes is difficult. There are different rules in each home, and I have to constantly travel between houses to get my things. It’s more annoying than difficult,” Haffner said.

While bringing items back and forth from each house can be chaotic, another level of stress also comes from leftover family tension and the lack of stability in a household. In terms of school-life, the divorce of a student’s parents can impact a student in several ways, specifically in terms of their personality and academics.

As PJ Washenko, a guidance counselor at Staples said when talking about different circumstances that come with divorce. “No matter what, it’s going to be difficult.”

In Washenko’s experience as a counselor, he has found that there were instances in which a teacher would talk to him about a student, and Washenko would then discover, through talking to the parents or the student themselves, that they have been struggling with a divorce. He has also found that situations such as a student wanting to see their father but not feeling comfortable with their stepsiblings or another aspect of their father’s home make it difficult to move from house to house.

“For many students who do deal with that, they’re almost torn between two different worlds,” Washenko said.

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