Co-parenting can be tricky; there are lots of emotions, many people to consider, and a wide array of schedules to coordinate. But with effective cooperation and communication, it is possible to make it smoother. Here are some tips to co-parent successfully through the school year.
How to organize the schedule between both parents:
Start discussing the school schedule well in advance to avoid any last-minute conflicts. Consider the following:
-Doctor and dentist appointments (especially any that may impact your ex’s days or pick-up times)
-pick up and drop off’s
-Special days (pink shirt days, pizza days etc.)
Make sure it’s on everyone’s calendar and that any adjustments to the calendar or schedule have been discussed in advance. Make sure everyone is aware of what each day entails and has the items needed.
Coordinate supplies and schedule:
Coordinate your shopping trips to avoid duplicating purchases or missing out on essential items at the beginning of the school year. Share information about what you plan to shop for, and what you have already bought. Some items will work best if doubled up, others not so much. (Don’t forget to add labels to your list!)
Have a plan for coordinating the schedule and making sure that they have everything they need when they need it. For example, if they have dance class, make sure the dance gear is where it needs to be regardless of who’s house, they’re sleeping at. Putting this responsibility on your kids is too much, you need to help them sort it out. Having a set plan and open communication will make everything go smoother.
So make a schedule and post it somewhere that’s visible to both parents. That way, when it’s dance night, they won’t be without their clothes and shoes.
Co-parents and how to communicate with the school:
Always have open and respectful communication with one another, with your kids, and with the school. Make sure all important information from the school is shared with both parents. Discuss any concerns, but try and keep the kids out of any potential conflict.
Have budget expectations for each parent:
Agree on a budget for school expenses and discuss how you will split the costs. This will help avoid any financial disagreements. For example, school trips, new clothing and back-to-school supplies, extracurriculars etc.
Decide on which parent will attend your child’s school or sporting events:
Ideally, both parents can attend sporting games, parent-teacher interviews, school open-houses etc. But if this will cause too much tension, it’s best to create a schedule of who attends what ahead of time, and let your kids know so they’re not disappointed.
If you can manage to put your differences aside and both attend, it will have a positive impact on your kids. It will also help everyone in the family know who the teachers are, meet the coaches, and communicate effectively. If one parent doesn’t attend, the other parent will become the default opening the door to future confusion and conflict.
Understand one another’s house rules:
Recognize that your ex may have different preferences or ideas about certain parenting ways. It’s important to have a conversation with one another about what happens in each home, and how to be open to compromise.
Screentime and kids’ on social media are often areas of conflict, share your thoughts privately (not in front of the kids) and try and find a common ground. Respect the rules you’ve created for each home. Use a mediator for any situations causing tension that may impact the kids.
Keeping routines similar between homes is important for the well-being of the kids; so try and work towards similar:
Children do better at school when their parents Work together to maintain consistency in both homes.
Keep the child’s best interests in mind:
At the end of each day, the goal is to provide the best possible experience for your kids. Put their needs first and prioritize their comfort levels, their preferences, and most of all, their well-being throughout the school year.
Co-parent as a team:
Always stay focused on cooperation and teamwork. Your kids will benefit from seeing their parents working well together, and this can have a positive impact on their mental health.
Seek mediation if you’re experiencing conflict:
A new school year is tough for any family. But especially those newly separated. When you add in the scheduling conflicts that co-parents have to deal with, shared parenting during the school year can be very stressful. If you are having trouble working as a team, mediation is a great way to problem solve and create a plan for the best interest of your kids moving forward. If your child is showing signs of struggle, make sure to get them help too. Here are some tips of your child is experiencing anxiety about the school year.
Co-parenting requires patience and compromise. It will look different for each family, of course, but a few things are for sure: open and respectful lines of communication and prioritizing your kids’ needs will help your child have a positive school year!