Back-to-school time can be tough for newly divorced couples, but a little planning and a lot of mutual consideration can go a long way toward smoothing the path for parents and kids alike.
Families looking to have a smooth fall (not to mention holiday season) can pave the way by sitting down with a calendar and mapping out the school year. All important dates should be recorded, including school breaks, visits with the non-custodial parent, after-school activities, recitals, trips to Grandma’s, dentist appointments – everything that will occupy the children’s time for the next several months.
Both parents (and step-parents) and the kids need to have a copy of the schedule. That doesn’t mean the calendar is set in stone, but it will mean that mom won’t schedule a sleepover at a friend’s house during dad’s weekend-at least not without checking first with dad to see if he’s okay with it.
Another important step is to make sure that both parents are on all the relevant email lists, including PTA, teacher lists, scout troops, softball teams, etc. It may seem trivial, but staying in the loop on the children’s daily activities is a key to both parents’ maintaining a healthy relationship with their children. Ensuring that both parents get those communications also means that neither parent has to rely on the child (an unreliable communication vehicle in even the best of circumstances) to tell the other parent about parent-teacher conferences or other important information.
One other tip is to consider buying (or checking out, if it’s possible) a second set of school textbooks to keep at the non-custodial parent’s house. This both eliminates the hassle of transporting those heavy books from house to house, but it has the bonus of eliminating an excuse for not doing homework!