Back to school is such a mixed bag of emotions. With feelings of excitement and joy to stress about how it will go for the kids, this is a time of change that can feel hectic. Add divorce to the mix and back to school just got even tougher! In this article, I want to offer some back to school tips for parents who are divorced or separated.
Co-parenting after a divorce or separation can be challenging any time of the year, not just during the back to school season. However, by focusing on effective communication, cooperation, and putting the best interests of your children first, creating a successful co-parenting relationship is much easier than you think.
Here are some 10 Back-to-school Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents:
1. Establish Open Communication:
• Establish and maintain open and respectful communication with your ex-spouse. Share important information about school schedules, activities, and events promptly.
• Use communication platforms like email, text messages, or co-parenting apps to ensure both parents are well-informed about the children’s school-related matters.
2. Create a Joint Calendar:
• Maintain a shared calendar that includes school schedules, extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and other important events. This way, both parents are on the same page and can plan accordingly.
3. Attend School Meetings Together:
• It’s not easy, I get it. When going through a divorce, feelings of resentment and anger can cause you to want to avoid your soon-to-be ex. But, attending school meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and school events together will show your children that you can work together as a team to support their education. It will also foster productive communication between you and your ex and you might be surprised at how well you can get along, despite your differences.
4. Discuss Homework and Study Routines:
• Again, having conversations with your soon-to-be-ex isn’t easy. But, if you can, discussing and agreeming on homework and study routines that are the same at both households is so wonderful for your children. Children thrive on consistency and routines. These things will help them academically and emotionally!
5. Share School Information:
• Share important school information with each other. This helps both parents stay informed about the children’s academic progress.
6. Be Supportive of Extracurricular Activities:
• Encourage your children’s participation in extracurricular activities, and work together to ensure they can attend practices, games, or performances without conflicts. I realize that sports, band, theatre and other kinds of after-school participation can be challenging for divorced working parents, but these things are what drive passion and bring joy to children. When you see their happiness, you will be so glad you went the extra mile to have them participate!
More Back to School Tips for Parents:
7. Avoid arguing in Front of the Children:
• Again, not easy to do! But, try to keep any disagreements away from your children. Maintain a united front and show them that you can work together respectfully. If you want to discuss something with your ex, write down some notes so that you can bring this up later, when the two of you talk–after the kids are asleep or the next day when they are at school. What I mean is, you don’t have to have the argument right then and there. Save it for later.
8. Plan Pick-Up/Drop-Off:
• Determine how transportation to and from school will be managed. Make a clear plan for pick-up and drop-off times to avoid confusion. If you have to hire a driver, there are lots of college aged kids or older moms looking for this kind of work. Ask around in your neighborhood! Also, remember that schedules change often and you have to be ready for that. It’s stressful, I get it! But believe it or not, you do get used to learning to adapt to change.
9. Respect Each Other’s Time:
• Respect probably isn’t the word you think of when it comes to your ex. But, for your kids’ sake, respecting his or her time is beneficial. Try to be punctual when it comes to drop-off and pick-up times, and if you know you are going to be late, text your ex or your children so that they aren’t sitting there waiting and wondering. Remember that both you and your ex are busy and trying your hardest. That makes it easier to be kind if/when your ex is late.
10. Celebrate Achievements Together:
• Celebrate your children’s achievements, whether academic, artistic, or athletic, as a team. It’s not easy to do, but this positive reinforcement shows your children that their well-being and success matter to both parents. When kids see parents sitting at opposite ends of the gym, it’s upsetting. So, if you can sit together, great. If you can’t, at least try to make sure you both congratulate your children together after the game.
Remember that co-parenting requires ongoing effort and compromise. While it may not always be easy, prioritizing your children’s needs and providing them with a stable and supportive environment will ultimately benefit their emotional well-being and academic success.
Cary Jacobson is a trained Maryland Collaborative Divorce Attorney. She begins working with you by listening to your concerns and helping you identify your goals and interests for the divorce process and the future beyond it. Collaborative divorce is an excellent choice for many families, but it is not for everyone. Cary is skilled in a variety of dispute resolution options, and will help you identify what divorce process is best for your needs. If you decide that Collaborative divorce is right for you, Cary works with, and advocates for you throughout the process, from helping to assemble the Collaborative team to finalizing your final divorce documents.
Cary graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law with her Juris Doctorate magna cum laude. She is admitted to practice law throughout the State of Maryland as well as within the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Cary is a certified mediator, Best Interest Attorney, Child Advocate Attorney and Child Privilege Attorney. Prior to founding Jacobson Family Law, Cary was a senior associate at The Drazin Law Center, specializing in divorce and bankruptcy.
Cary is actively involved in the legal community, including the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Maryland State Bar Association Family Law and Young Lawyer Sections, Howard County Bar Association, and the Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence. Cary is also a current board member of the Howard County Collaborative Professionals and the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland of Howard County. Since 2016, Cary has been recognized as a SuperLawyers Rising Star in Family Law; each year no more than 2.5% of the lawyers in Maryland are selected.