The back-to-school season is always a stressful time for children and parents. The change in household schedules will inevitably result in some hiccups. For those co-parenting after a divorce or breakup, getting children ready to go back to school can be even more stressful than it would be in the average two-parent household.
Not only do the adults in the family need to support and guide their children, but they have to do so while navigating a rapidly-shifting relationship with each other. The three steps below can help reduce how difficult the transition back to the academic school year could potentially be for the entire family.
Review and revise (if necessary) one’s parenting schedule
Every year when the children return to school, their daily schedule will be slightly different. Class times differ between elementary and middle school, for example. Additionally, as children mature, they will likely begin pursuing extracurricular activities. Adults will therefore need to discuss the schedule for each of the children and how the parents will manage drop-offs, pickups and unexpected challenges, like children sent home due to illness.
Address likely financial expenses
From class trips and yearbooks to sports equipment and high school dances, there are many expenses associated with the academic year that parents will need to find a way to cover. Those expenses are typically beyond the basic cost of living addressed with child support obligations, so parents may want to talk about how they will handle those costs as they arise. Having a pre-existing agreement for extra expenses will help reduce conflict and ensure the children have the highest possible standard of living.
Communicate with the school
Particularly when a separation or divorce is still fresh, there’s reason to anticipate a child having behavioral issues or possibly a slump in academic performance correlated with the separation or divorce of their parents. Individual teachers and support professionals like school social workers or psychologists who know about the change in family circumstances will be better able to support the children in the family during this difficult time.
When the adults in a family are proactive about addressing matters that could arise during the back-to-school season, they can potentially help to reduce how stressful the upcoming changes will be for their family and can limit the likelihood that they will end up in embroiled in a conflict with their co-parent over scheduling matters, school performance or finances.