Congratulations on getting through the post-separation or divorce summer! It’s not easy coordinating summer vacations and time off. But sending the kids back to school post-split comes with its own set of problems. The end of lazy summer days coupled with the complicated school calendar and your work schedule is crazy-making under the best of circumstances.
Here’s a few life hacks that can make the summer-to-school transition go a little more smoothly for you and your kiddos:
Plan Out Your Year:
Make sure both parents have copies of the school schedules and when any special events, field trips, games will occur. Sit down with your ex and mark both calendars. Better yet, use shared calendar systems like Our Family Wizard that you can update periodically. Things are bound to change as the year progresses, but at least you will be on the same page as the school year begins. Use a family mediator to help you if the conflict with your ex is too much to do this on your own.
Get “Doubles” of Must-Have Items:
School Uniforms, soccer balls, pencil sharpeners. These things tend to get left behind in the hustle and bustle of shuttling between mom and dad’s house. Investing in duplicates of these oft-left behind items will spare you and your child the stress of forgetting them…which the inevitably will!
Prep the Kids on What to Say:
If your divorce is brand new, the kids may feel stressed by having to explain things to their friends and teachers. Help them come up with simple responses like, “ Sometimes I stay at my mom’s and sometimes at Dad’s.” to explain their living situation.
Inform the School:
Let the school know of your divorce. They can watch the kids for signs of distress, acting out or academic problems. Plus, the school needs to know that information must be sent to both parents. Make sure they have both parents’ info. Also, make sure the school is aware if one parent cannot be involved due to distance or court order.
Avoid Using School as a Place of Exchange:
Kids may feel stressed about their parents’ behavior during exchanges. It’s best for them if they don’t have to worry about their peers and teachers observing this conduct. If you can’t get along with your ex- pick a different place to exchange the child.
Compile a List:
Sit down with your spouse and compile a list of trusted friends, family and paid sitters who you feel comfortable caring for your child. Agree that should their be an event, field trip or emergency that neither parent can attend, that you will choose someone from the list to stand in your place.
Do the Homework:
If you are the non-domiciliary parent, it is tempting to leave the homework for the domiciliary parent to deal with. But helping your child with homework isn’t a chore, it’s a privilege. Working together is bonding time where the child learns that they can count on their parent to help them when they need it. As they grow this translates to other areas of their lives. Don’t miss out on this experience. Resist the urge to be the good-time parent.