A family’s schedule almost always changes dramatically when children return to school for the year. Families often start preparing for the back-to-school season weeks before classes actually resume, and it is quite typical for one adult to absorb the majority of those obligations.
Once parents separate, managing obligations for the children can become more of a challenge. The back-to-school season can very easily strain a co-parenting relationship and cause a lot of conflict within a family. How can those adjusting to shared parenting arrangements plan to minimize those conflicts?
Have a schedule prepared
Parents who separated during the summer months will likely need to work out a new schedule for visitation or shared custody during the school year. Not only will the children’s time in the classroom diminish their availability, but parents also have to consider their social needs and any extracurricular activities. Thinking about who will be able to pick up the children if there are disciplinary or health issues during the school day is also important to address ahead of time.
Plan for likely expenses
Class trips, sports equipment and new clothes during the school year can all cost thousands of dollars per child depending on their age and preferences. Parents therefore need to address the expenses that will exceed what child support will cover and talk about how the parents can help when their children want to attend gymnastics classes or join the football team. Last-minute costs are likely to accrue, and families that don’t have a plan in place to cover those expenses may end up embroiled in a disagreement that leaves the children unable to engage in their favorite activities.
Talk about developmental needs
It is beneficial for the adults in the family to occasionally talk about their expectations for the children, including what they expect as far as academic performance and the age-appropriate requirements the child may have. Talking about when a child can start dating or using a phone, for example, can help parents present a united front when the children want something that the parents don’t believe is healthy or appropriate.
When parents talk with each other about their children’s needs and then include those details in their parenting plan, they will be less likely to experience conflicts that lead to high levels of stress for the family. Taking the time to talk about back-to-school needs before the children actually return to class can help parents better support their growing kids.