As a parent, you’ve weathered the back-to-school season before – but you’ve never done it as a divorced parent before.
To make things easy for your child and keep your co-parenting relationship running smoothly, here are a few things you should consider doing:
1. Review your parenting plan.
Don’t rely on your memory. Typically, a child’s residential schedule will change between summer and the school year, so you need to be aware of your designated parenting times.
2. Put some technology to use.
Whether it’s Google Calendar or some app you like, you need a way to coordinate schedules with your ex when it comes to your child’s school schedule and extra-curricular activities. You’ll need to work out transportation and child care (if necessary) for days when school closes early or there’s a holiday.
3. Split the back-to-school bills.
The school year can be expensive, and parents are expected to spend an average of $597 per child – and that’s only for the regular school supplies, uniforms and other essentials that your child needs to get started. Work out a plan for how you and your co-parent will share the costs, whether that’s 50/50 or some split that’s more reflective of your disparate incomes.
4. Agree on who will pay any ongoing fees.
From school lunches to instrument rentals and sports fees and field trips, your child is going to have ongoing extra expenses throughout the school year. You and your co-parent should talk about how to divide the costs so that neither of you is unfairly burdened (and your child doesn’t go without).
5. Plan to attend most school events together.
Your child needs both parents to be visibly supportive of them, so you and your co-parent should be willing to share all the important school events together, like the first day of school, parent-teacher conferences and their choir performance.
6. Have a united front on the school day schedules.
Co-parenting means teamwork, and children thrive on stability. Try to negotiate some agreements with your ex-spouse on things like bedtimes, electronic usage and homework that you’re both willing to follow.
Hopefully, this transition period will go smoothly. If you run into problems, it may be time to get some help refining or clarifying your parenting plan.