When summer begins to wind down and the new school year is just around the corner, most parents are focused on all the many tasks associated with back to school. There are school supplies to be bought, school clothes to be shopped for, annual health, eye and dental exams to schedule as well as signing the kids up for sports and other after-school activities. All in all, it can be a stressful time for parents and children.
When you add a set of newly divorced parents into that mix, back to school time can become much more complex. Issues which have never been dealt with before, now must be tackled. If the children are splitting their time somewhat equally between two homes, the logistics of getting to and from school—with all the necessary items—can become frustrating. If the custody arrangement was primary custody for one parent with visitation for the other, there will still be issues associated with the children having what they need at each home.
If the children are going to a new school as the result of the divorce, then they are facing changes in making new friends and settling into a new environment. The newly divorced parents may be going through similar stressful times. If a move was part of the divorce, then one or both parents may be dealing with a new job, new neighbors and changes in their home. Juggling a job, children and complex schedule while caring for a home—once tasks shared by two—can be an overwhelming job for a single parent. While the parents are likely just as stressed as the children, it is the parents’ job to make these new transitions easier on the children. Newly divorced parents can make the back to school transition smoother by following these helpful tips:
- If you are the parent who has moved into a new neighborhood, it could be helpful to host an end of summer barbecue in order to get to know your neighbors. As a single parent, there are often times when you might need an emergency babysitter, so it helps to have a good idea of what kind of people your neighbors are.
- If your children are remaining in their same school, it is important to let teachers and counselors know about the divorce as well as your current custody agreement.
- If your children are entering a new school, you must also let teachers and counselors know about your children’s new situation.
- Take the time to sit down with your children prior to school starting in order to go over their new schedules. Children tend to feel more secure when they know what to expect, and, as a parent, you will also feel better when there is a plan in place.
- As hard as it may be (depending on how contentious your divorce was) try your best to be flexible with your ex. This is new territory for all those involved, and it could take some time to get things running smoothly. Don’t play games, “hoard” information or create obstacles for the other parent. As much as possible, put the past behind you and look to the future. When parents are “ok,” the kids are much more likely to be ok as well.
- Spend plenty of time talking to your children about their days at school and their lives in general. Open communication between all involved is key as you make sure to focus on the children.
- Have an emergency plan with your ex in case of a sudden change in schedule, discuss pick-ups and drop-offs, after school activities, how homework will be handled, meals, weather and anything else which could become an issue. Write everything down and share the plan with all involved. Hopefully there is a firm Parenting Plan in place and a calendar reflecting times spent with each parent. Keep this calendar where the children can easily see it so there are no surprises for anyone.
- Be upfront with your ex about school expenses, which can be significant. If you are the parent doing the purchasing, keep copies of receipts so you have a record of what you are owed.
- Make sure both parents are on all school email lists and mailing lists so information is received by both parents.
While going back to school can be fraught with obstacles for parents and children alike following a divorce, these tips can make the transition easier on all involved.
If you have questions regarding child support, child custody, or a separate parenting issue, we can help. Contact the Boulder child custody attorneys at Goff & Goff today for a free initial consultation.