Tips For Surviving Back to School As A Recently Divorced Parent
Back-to-school season is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and bettering yourself. It’s also one of the most stressful times of the year for parents. After all, juggling work and kids, figuring out new schedules for both and finding the money for backpacks and school supplies is not easy. Back to school can be a trying time for recently divorced parents. If you’re going through this process right now, you know how difficult it can be to balance custody schedules while trying to think of cost-effective ways to keep your kids happy, healthy, and well-adjusted during this major transition period in their lives. Here are some tips that will help you successfully navigate this challenging period.
Communicate Your Child’s Schedule With Your Ex
It takes time to adjust to any change in your life. For recently divorced parents it can be especially challenging to get used to your new parenting plan. When your child starts school and they have a new schedule it is important for both parents to understand what this schedule looks like so they can plan accordingly. It’s difficult for an entire family to keep up with everything that happens during the school year.
Sharing your child’s schedule ahead of time will enable parents to plan for after-school activities, as well as the items and transportation required for them. This will also allow for both parents to be aware of important events such as conferences, exams, report cards, permission slips, and other pertinent information. Not only will this allow for an easier adjustment for both parents but it will provide a smoother transition to the school year for your child as everyone will be on the same page.
Using a shared calendar (there are loads of free apps out there) really helps with scheduling.
Notify Your Child’s Teacher
Prior to the start of the new school year, it is important to notify your child’s new teachers of your family situation. Teachers should be made aware of the family dynamic, the custody arrangement you have in place, and to be on the lookout for any emotional impacts they might witness in your child. You can also take this time to make sure that both parents are added to any mailing lists for school newsletters, updates, fundraisers, and field trips. Teachers will accommodate separate parent-teacher conferences if they are requested. It is in the best interest of the child that both parents set aside their differences for the sake of the child in addition to the meeting, but if that is not possible, they should hold two meetings. You should require two copies of any paperwork like forms, report cards, and letters that are sent home.
Don’t Do It All Yourself
Getting ready for a new school year is surely going to bring additional stress to an already tense situation. The best way to get through this is not to put the entire burden on yourself. Get your child involved in their own packing, explaining what they will need for school and why. Your child may have items they need to bring that you don’t have or forgot about, like a certain type of pencil or a certain type of backpack. This is the best way to avoid last-minute shopping sprees and keep your costs down. You should separate the list of required school supplies with your ex to minimize the amount you need to purchase.
Discuss How To Answer Questions From Other Children
Before the beginning of the school year, prepare with your children a strategy for how to respond to queries about your separation or divorce. Tell them that they may be faced with some questions from curious schoolmates and that it is okay to politely decline to answer any questions that make them uncomfortable. Discuss how to politely rebuff overly personal inquiries as well as what to reveal to their friends and acquaintances. It can even be helpful to roleplay so they are comfortable with how to respond to potential questions.
Give Your Kids Time To Cope With Your Divorce
Children usually require about a year to adjust to their parent’s divorce (if parents are co-parenting well. It will take much longer if conflict remains high). This does not mean that they are no longer feeling sad or angry, but rather, by the end of the first year after the divorce, they should cope adequately with these emotions. It is important to be empathetic and understand this is a difficult transition period for them as well. You should allow them time to deal with their feelings and try not to panic or overreact if they get a bad grade or into some trouble at school. This could be completely unrelated to your divorce or a natural part of the adjustment your child is making. Unless you notice a pattern of severe adjustment issues you should allow your children time to come to terms and adjust to their new situation.