The end of summer can be stressful for both parents and children alike. For parents who are separated and must co-parent the children in two households, there is an extra layer of stress for everyone. However, there are many things both you and your co-parent can do to relieve some of the stress. Below you will find a few tips to make the back-to-school season run smoothly.
- Use a Shared Calendar or App: If you don’t already, a shared calendar with the kids’ activities and appointments can make communicating a lot simpler. Thankfully there are several free and paid apps such as Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents which have great calendars for both parents to use.
- Communicate as Much as Possible: Communicating about your children is a very important part of co-parenting as it helps both parents avoid frustrations about not knowing certain things. A co-parenting app may be a good solution. Also, you may want to make it a habit to email or text the other parent a rundown of important things from the children’s time with you so they are kept in the loop.
- Decide Who Pays for What Expenses Before They Occur: Back-to-school can become very expensive and sometimes sharing the cost with your co-parent eases that burden. Deciding a few weeks in advance about upcoming expenses and splitting them will help both of you budget and feel less stressed when these expenses pop up.
- Attend the School Events Together: Sometimes you may not want to see your co-parent but remember that most custody orders give both parents the right to attend school activities. This is a great time to show your children that you’re still there for them and relieve any stress for them about not having one parent there.
- Go Ahead and Buy Two of Things: Children tend to always forget something at the other parent’s house and remember the night before they need it for school. A simple solution is to buy two of those important things if possible such as uniforms, supplies, and favorite clothing items. Split the cost of this with the other parent and agree that these items stay in each house and do not get carted back and forth.
- Share a “Co-Parent Bag”: Some parents find sharing a bag that each parent to put in things like prescriptions, retainers, or other items that do need to be transported back and forth. This takes the stress away from the children and on the parents who make sure the items are in the bag at each exchange.
- Establish Similar Routines in Each Home: Children are much more comfortable when they have a familiar routine. Talk to your co-parent and see if you can agree on a few things at each home that you both do so the children feel less stressed. This can include a breakfast routine, similar chores, nighttime habits, or after-school schedules.
The above tips are meant to help inspire co-parents to work together in more creative ways to help both households. However, co-parenting is a two-way street and both parents do need to commit to the process in order for it to work. If you find yourself being the more committed parent who puts your children first, keep doing your best in your home to keep the stress level down so your children have at least one home where things don’t seem as hectic.