How divorced parents can make going back-to-school less stressful
With just a few weeks of summer break left, it’s time to start preparing to go back to school. This time of year can be stressful for all parents but for those who are co-parenting, and their children, things can get a bit more complicated. Un-complicate things with these 7 back-to-school tips for divorced parents.
1. Review your parenting plan
In many parenting plans, the residential schedule changes between summer and school year, and/or when the child(ren) hit a certain age. Be certain that you are aware of your designated days and times as well as transportation obligations.
Bonus tip: Communicate any anticipated schedule conflicts with your ex, as soon as possible.
2. Split the cost of back-to-school supplies
If you’ve ever gone school shopping before, you know that it can be expensive and not to mention daunting! Splitting the list of school supplies means that one parent isn’t shouldering the entire financial burden, or spending hours navigating the aisles of parents in search of a specific brand of pencils or the coveted backpack of the year.
3. If possible, drop the kids off together on the first day of school
First day jitters are normal, and having both parents there gives children an extra boost of confidence and shows them their education is a top priority. (And if it’s not possible, send a pic to your ex.)
Bonus tip: When possible, both parents should attend activities such as school plays, recitals and/or their sporting events. (And if it’s not possible, send a pic to your ex.)
4. Use technology to facilitate easy and clear communication
Apps like Cozi, FamCal and Google Calendar make it easy for everyone to stay in the loop regarding schedules, activities and events. Keep older children in the loop, by sharing the calendar with them as well!
Bonus tip: Review the school calendar and note early dismissals, school closures and activities on the calendar, and designate transportation and child care responsibilities for those days ahead of time.
5. Whenever possible, keep consistent school day schedules and house rules
When parents have a united front and consistent guidelines when it comes to school matters, things run more smoothly for everyone. Bedtimes, homework, electronic device usage, etc., should be negotiated between parents and shared with your child(ren) as the rules for both houses.
6. Inform the teachers and school of your blended family
Make it easier on everyone, by informing your child(ren)’s teachers of who is who in your family. This simplifies communication, drop-offs, and pick-ups. Teachers will often send home 2 packets, or provide 2 sets of school books, if they know their student splits time between 2 homes. If you or your ex are remarried and a step-parent shows up to pick your child(ren) up it may cause confusion, if the teacher isn’t aware. It is also helpful for the teacher to be aware if your divorce is recent, or still in progress. They can help monitor and handle any issues that may arise with your child(ren) as they are going through the transition.
7. Attend parent-teacher conferences together
Again, this shows your child(ren)—and the school that their education is a top priority. It also keeps both parents in the loop with their child(ren)’s education and facilitates an open line of communication between the teacher and each parent.
The bottom line: back-to-school season can be stressful for children of divorce in ways that it isn’t for children whose parents are still together. Communicating clearly and presenting a united front on school and education issues will minimize the stress on everyone.
Now, take a deep breath… you got this!
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