By Sheryl J. Seiden
It’s Back to School time, and with that comes a whole host of responsibilities for parents to juggle. Divorced parents may find this time of year particularly challenging, but a good parenting plan will provide a full binder’s worth of guidance to help anticipate and plan for just this kind of co-parenting situation.
Working on your own parenting plan or simply determined to make sure this Fall goes smoothly? Here are some tips to deal with some of the financial and logistical challenges that divorced parents may face when the kids go back to school.
First Day of School
It’s always a milestone to see your children off to their first day of school in their extra nice outfits with backpacks on their backs, ready to hit the books. Best co-parenting practice would be to invite the other parent over or to meet at the school to take photos if your relationship permits, but even if both parents can’t be there with cameras in hand, that doesn’t mean one of you needs to miss out entirely. Emailing or posting photos to a shared digital album that both parents can access will help everyone feel the excitement of the day, and the kids should be encouraged to share all the details of the new school year via phone when they get home from school.
From the school-provided list of supplies to other school-related items like lunchboxes, locks for gym lockers, and even new clothes, Back To School Shopping is a big deal – and a big expense. Parents can try creating a shareable Google Doc to keep track of what the children need. Consider divvying up what each of you has to purchase so that you are splitting the costs. Each parent should let the other know right away if they receive any notifications about what is needed for school, and these items can be placed into the Google Doc to keep both parties involved in the process of purchasing school supplies.
Back to School Night
The annual Back to School Night provides a chance to meet the teachers your children see every day, and that means it’s an event both parents may wish to attend. As soon as one parent receives the notice about Back to School Night, that information should be shared so that both parents can calendar the event, and the parent who has the children that night should make arrangements for childcare. If there are specific issues you want to address with your childrens’ teachers, it’s important to talk to your co-parent before Back to School Night to ensure that you are both on the same page. The notice for Back to School Night and details regarding this event can also be shared between the parents in a Google Doc.
Many activities begin when the children go back to school, and that can mean a dizzying number of sign-up deadlines, registration fees, and scheduling challenges. From sports and music or dance lessons to math and science enrichment classes, co-parents need to discuss before the Fall which extracurricular activities the children will be participating in and who will take responsibility for their involvement. Once you’ve got a plan that everyone agrees on, it’s important not to let these activities fall through the cracks or wait until right before the deadline to sign-up.
Nobody ever said co-parenting was easy, but with a bit of advance planning and some proactive communication, the childrens’ return to school can and will go smoothly. Keep your parenting plan and these tips at your disposal, and remember to prioritize your kids so that they can have a happy and stress-free start to the school year. We wish you the best of luck!