The first couple months of a new school year can be a hectic time for parents and kids. However, it can be downright chaotic if your family is still adjusting to a recent separation or divorce.
You may not just be worrying about who can pick up the kids after school and what to pack for lunches. You may also be concerned about whose night it is to have the kids, who will make sure the kids complete their homework and who will receive updates from the school. Although it can be difficult to adjust to so much change at once, there are ways to make co-parenting easier during the school year.
Find common ground
Scheduling a conversation with your ex-spouse may be one of the first things you can do to improve co-parenting this school year. Your ex-spouse may be the last person you want to talk to after your divorce, but successful co-parenting will require effective communication.
When you talk with your ex, try to find some common ground regarding the children. It may help reduce problems if you can agree to both attend your children’s important events, such as sporting events, recitals and parent-teacher conferences. Also, it may help your children if you and your spouse can agree on some rules and expectations. For example, you may both agree that homework must be completed as soon as the children get home from school.
Create a shared calendar
Your children’s schedules can be complicated during the school year, and your custody schedule may only add to the confusion. Juggling every family member’s schedule can be a nightmare during the school year unless you get yourself organized.
To try to avoid mishaps, you and your co-parent may agree to using a shared calendar. Technology offers many ways you and your spouse can keep track of your custody schedule and everyone’s activities. Some options even allow you and your spouse to cut down on the time you spend communicating face-to-face by allowing you to share information or send reminders electronically.
Routines can be comforting to children after divorce, but they can also help keep everyone organized during the school year. You may have little control over the routines your spouse keeps in his or her house, but you can establish routines in your own home that can help support your child’s success in school.
Consider your children’s routines in the morning, after school and before bed. Try to set routines that support your children’s success at school. For example, you may set a specific bed time for your children to make sure they get enough sleep on school nights. You may also require your children to bathe and brush their teeth each night before bed.
Talk to teachers
You can also help make parenting easier during the school year by updating the school on your family’s situation. Although you may want to keep family matters private, it can be helpful for your children’s teachers to know in general what the dynamic is at home.
When teachers are aware that there has been a change at home, they may be more alert to any changes in your child’s behavior or school performance. Also, if you and your ex are living separately, you may ask to both receive a copy of updates or newsletters from the school.
A new school year can present many challenges to families that are still coping with a recent divorce. However, by getting on the right foot now, you can help ensure that your family will continue good habits throughout the school year.