For parents who are ending their marriage, the first back-to-school season after the separation or divorce can be particularly challenging. You’ve likely been doing your best to keep these challenges away from your child.
If you’re co-parenting, maybe you’ve been vigilant about working out important things like how drop-offs and pickups from school will be handled, how expenses for uniforms and supplies will be split and making sure that the school has contact information for both of you. Maybe you’ve already committed to maintaining the same rules about homework and expectations about grades across both homes. You’ve also both agreed to attend parent-teacher conferences together and to be present at school events for your child.
However, it’s the things you might consider less important or don’t think about at all that can end up causing conflict for you and stress for your child. Let’s look at just a few.
Field trips and classroom responsibilities
Decide how you want to divide duties like helping out with classroom holiday celebrations and chaperoning field trips before you volunteer yourself (or your co-parent). Even if you’ve always been the one to do those things, your co-parent may want to get more involved since it means spending more time with your child.
This might not seem like a big deal, but if you haven’t been the one to prepare your child’s lunch, do you know how to do it on the days they’re with you? That means having the necessary lunch food and containers on hand in your home.
You likely have holiday schedules and even scheduled miscellaneous school days off worked out, but what if schools close for a snow day (or week) this winter? It’s good to have a plan in place so you’re not arguing over which one of you will stay home or which grandparent or neighbor will take care of your child.
Of course, all of this requires communication between co-parents. Nonetheless, documenting as much as possible in your parenting plan can help minimize conflict and confusion – and help your child see that their parents are still a team when it comes to caring for them.