Back-to-school season is just around the corner, and that brings additional challenges for co-parents who are newly separated or divorced.
While it can be difficult to set aside all the negative feelings associated with your situation, working with your ex-partner to make the back-to-school process smoother will benefit your children and set the stage for a better co-parenting relationship in the future. These are some tips that can come in handy in this regard.
Share back-to-school expenses
Child support only goes so far, and every parent feels the financial crunch of back-to-school expenses. Be willing to share the burden with your ex-partner for things like school supplies, shoes for the kids, school uniforms or clothes, band instruments and sports fees. This doesn’t mean handing over your credit card, however. Talk to your co-parent about the budget, and decide how you can prioritize your dollars.
Get a shared calendar for the school year
Whether it’s Google Calendar or a co-parenting app, you and your co-parent should use a shared calendar to keep track of school holidays, vacation times, custody schedules, band concerts, choir performances, theater productions and anything else that might be important. More importantly: Remember that you need to still act as a unit in your children’s lives. Both of you should show up for parent-teacher conferences and any special events that involve your children (no matter who has physical custody that day).
Make an agreement about homework and routines
Children thrive best when their lives are predictable and they have good routines, so talk with your co-parent about developing some shared expectations regarding homework and other school projects. If you are able to agree on a set of rules that have to be followed at both houses (like homework has to be done before the video games start), there will be less room for resentment or conflicts.
Navigating the back-to-school season when you’re learning the ropes of effective co-parenting requires a lot of communication and collaboration – and the best interests of the children always need to be prioritized. If your co-parent seems unable or unwilling to put the children first, you may need to explore your legal options.