I have always loved the start of a new school year and all the excitement, buzz, and positive energy that comes - with one exception. For the divorced family there is an extra challenge that comes with the new school year: making the new school year schedule work within the complexity of a two-household family.
Over the years, our two-household family has figured out a coordinated co-parent school year schedule and life that works for us. We have had our share of bumps and adjustments, but we make it work for us and our daughter. Keeping her and her development front and center has been key. Sharing a few of our tips here to help you and your divorced family get off to a smoother school year start.
Reset goals, priorities, expectations, and boundaries for your children
Combine all calendars and schedules into one online calendar for the upcoming school year
Communicate early and often
Establish similar school night routines across both homes
Make tracking expenses easy and stress-free
1. Reset goals, priorities, expectations, and boundaries
Talk with your co-parent about your child’s anticipated school year - academics, physical and/or mental health, use of electronics, and involvement in extracurricular activities.
As a united front, schedule a family meeting to discuss school year goals, priorities, activities, etc.
2. Combine all calendars and schedules into one online family, school, and activities calendar
Decide which parent takes the lead in managing the custody management/family activities calendar.
If you haven't yet chosen a custody management calendar, check out 6 Questions to Help Find You the Perfect Co-Parenting Custody Calendar System.
3. Communicate early and often
Keep teachers, coaches and tutors informed of any dual household challenges that can impact your children’s participation or behavior.
Try to attend teacher-parent meetings together so no one is responsible for “reporting back”.
With your co-parent, decide how the two of you will work with children on homework and school projects and manage any special issues impacting your children’s well-being. If family meetings are possible, get them on the family calendar and set a few minutes aside to keep things on track and communication open.
4. Keep similar routines when possible
As we all know, children love routine. With your co-parent, try creating similar school night routines such as before bed and lunch preparation. If this is not possible, focus on one or two things that can be implemented in both homes.
Share some successes you’re experiencing at your home. If playing outside for 30 minutes after school helps homework go smoother, share this win.
5. Make Tracking Expenses Easy and Stress-Free
If your parenting agreement does not include school-related expenses, try to discuss sharing these expenses with your co-parent and track them in an online shared system.
Consider getting a credit card solely for the use of shareable children's expenses. Check out How to Manage Child-Related Expenses with Your Ex.