Transitions are always difficult for divorced families. I know because we are in one. And the start of a new school year is no exception. There are many details to handle, and for parents, the stress and confusion is even greater. We always try to make things as smooth as possible for our son. Before the school year starts, we always get everything figured out and a plan in place for what will happen during the school year. It makes it so much easier for all of us.
With that being said, Judge Bender has developed an essential back to school “To Do” list for co-parents, that we follow in our family:
- Update the School. Take time before school starts to reach out to the school and explain the family situation. Make yourself available to answer any questions they may have and let your children know that the teachers and school administrators are aware.
- Start an Online Shared Calendar. There are many activities that occur within the school year and it’s hard for everyone to keep up and stay organized. A shared calendar can be a perfect solution, so both parents (and children, if age appropriate) know the schedule and can plan accordingly. We do have good communication with our co-parenting so it is nice to be able to organize these types of things.
- Arrange for Duplicate Notifications. Although information should always be shared between the parents, it helps to arrange for separate, duplicate notifications about academic progress and school activities, so one parent is not responsible for copying and sending information to the other. It fantastic that our school does this and we both get emails.
- Review and Split the Supply List. There’s no need for both parents to run out and start buying school supplies. Review the list and agree to split it up so the children can accompany one parent for the first 10 items, and go with the other parent for the remaining 10.
- Drop the Kids Off Together. The first day of school can be a scary, overwhelming experience for even the most confident of kids. If at all possible, both parents should free up their schedules to be there together and show their support. If you can’t be there together, take a photo and send it to the ex. This is something that we always do! It’s for our son, he needs the support from both of us.
- Keep Consistent House Rules. When the children are splitting their time between both parents’ homes, it’s important for the “house rules” to be consistent at both residences, especially during the school year. If bedtime on school nights is 8:00 pm at one parent’s home, then it must be the same at the ex’s.
- Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences Together. While this may be difficult, it’s so important to attend parent-teacher conferences as a team. It sends a strong message to the children that no matter what happened in the past, today you are united and have your child’s best interest at heart. We have always done this together and it really does help our son.
The fact that you have an ex for whatever reason, doesn’t mean that you can not co-parent and communicate on a good level. It is important to set your differences aside and parent together for the sake of your child. I know it can be hard, but it’s something that we feel is best for our son.
I always think of how we can make it better for our son, regardless of our feelings toward each other. I hope these tips will help someone else have a good back to school!