Back to school time brings new schedules, new activities, and new responsibilities. When you are a divorced parent, it can be especially chaotic. If you follow some simple tips, though, the road back to school can be smooth for everyone involved.
Let’s take a look at ways to make everything easier for your child, yourself and your ex.
Complete those pesky forms. Update the school’s records and any necessary forms with address changes, etc. especially if you’ve divorced within the last year. Many schools require you to update forms yearly, but if they don’t, make sure you let the school know of anything that has changed with addresses, phone numbers, and contact information.
Review proposed activities and sports with your ex Sports and other extracurricular activities can become expensive and time-consuming if you’re the only one shouldering the burden. I suggest reviewing the upcoming year’s activities and sports that your child(ren) would like to participate in and get buy-in/agreement on schedules, fees, etc. Don’t assume your ex will go along with it, even if your child/children would like to do the same sports activities as last year. If you discuss it up front at the beginning of the school year, everyone will have a clear idea of expectations.
Consider an online shared calendar for you and your ex. Some people really like handwritten calendars, and that is understandable. However, when you opt for an online shared calendar with your ex-spouse, it rules out a lot of opportunity for miscommunication or “I thought it was your turn to pick up the kids.” If you have multiple kids in after-school sports and activities, things can get confusing quickly. There are several online calendar apps that can help to organize everything for you; do a quick Google review and find the one that best fits your needs.
Meet with the teacher to let them know about your child’s co-parenting situation. Your child’s teacher is there to help, so any information about your new co-parenting situation should be shared. It can be hard, embarrassing, or just plain difficult to share your recent marital change, but your children’s’ teacher can be a great help in recognizing or flagging troubles that your kids may have after your divorce. If you’re not comfortable meeting with your children’s teacher at the same time as your ex-spouse, most teachers are more than willing to meet separately with you both.
If possible, coordinate with your ex on house rules. If you have shared custody, it can provide needed stability to have consistent rules about homework, screen time, and bedtime at both homes. If bedtime is at 8p.m. in one house and at 10p.m. in another, your child may have difficulty to the adjustment in routine, which sometimes shows itself in the classroom. Plus, different rules in each home quite often leads to conflict and anger with your kids, and nobody needs more of that during the school year! Try to work with your ex to find a common ground in all areas that you can both live with.
Back to school can be a stressful time for kids, but if you and your ex-spouse can keep your child’s best interest at the forefront, it will definitely help enable a smooth transition into the new school year.