Back to school is upon us, and for most parents, it can bring a whole new set of challenges not to mention new routines and managing schedule changes. For divorced parents, there are even more details to figure out such as who is responsible for back-to-school shopping or paying for school lunches? Are you going to follow a consistent schedule in both households?
Here are some tips that have worked for me when planning for back-to-school with my three kids and their co-parent.
Plan and Communicate Early
The earlier you can discuss your expectations, the better! The next few months can be terribly busy, and if you put off planning with your co-parent, issues may arise. If possible, I recommend sitting down face to face with your co-parent and going over what you both expect for the upcoming school year. If your kids are older, they can participate in this meeting too. The discussion should include school breaks and extracurricular activities, and any personal commitments each of you have. Planning early will also help you both easily see if there are any gaps in childcare that need to worked out.
Who’s Paying for What
School supplies, clothing, lunches, birthday party gifts, teacher gifts, and even yearbooks, all add up. Talking about which parent is financially responsible for each expenditure can save great deal aggravation, and at times, awkward conversations. Having a list of your financial responsibilities will result in everyone being on the same page, right from the start.
Check in with Your Kids
Kids may get excited about all the changes that back-to-school brings, but for other kids, the changes make them anxious and unsettled. You know your kids best so be sure to take their feelings into account when school starts. After the first week or two, check in with them. See if your arrangement needs to be tweaked and do your best to check in with your former spouse to make sure they are aware of your kids needs so that they can address them in their home as well.
Use a Shared Calendar
If you do not already use a shared calendar, now is a wonderful time to start. Kids and parents have so much going on. A shared calendar is a straightforward way to limit miscommunication when it comes to dates and times. It’s easy to create a free Google calendar or if you are on an apple device, share a joint calendar just for kid activities. Our Family Wizard is also an immensely helpful shared parenting communication app with a built-in calendar.
Schedule changes are bound to come up throughout the school year. When this happens, it is best to discuss these changes as soon as possible and make any adjustments to your agreed upon calendar. These times can be challenging when you are co-parenting, but by setting forth expectations, planning, and effective communication, you, your co-parent, and your kids can have an enjoyable start to the