There are a lot of challenges involved in co-parenting. Communication and coordination are necessary. And, often, this may be with someone you dislike at best.
It is crucial that you and your ex co-parent successfully regardless of how you feel about your ex. After all, there's almost no doubt that your divorce will affect your children just as badly.
When your children get back to school after summer vacation, be sure to demonstrate a united front as you work to put aside any differences you might have with your ex. In preparation for their kids' return to school, here are a few things divorced parents need to keep in mind.
1. Consistency is key.
Co-parenting conflicts usually occur when one or both parents begin "winging it" with their schedules. To avoid these problems, a clear, preplanned structure is essential. At the minimum, it's important to inform your children where they will stay every night, who will pick them up from school, and who will drop them off.
Try to stick to your schedule as much as possible after you create one.
2. Communicate regularly.
It's vital that both parents keep up-to-date on their children's health, academics, and social development. It is therefore necessary to establish a weekly communication schedule.
Regular and frequent communication regarding your child's education can be done in a variety of ways. In terms of communication avenues, there isn't necessarily a right way, but understanding them is crucial.
The right communication tool may depend on the relationship you have with your co-parent. Keep in touch about your child's progress in school by e-mail, text, or phone. Communication can also be streamlined with an app, such as Our Family Wizard or WeParent, that reduces confusion and disorganization.
3. Create a shared calendar.
If you have a shared calendar, you can minimize direct communication between you and your ex -- especially if the relationship is tumultuous. More importantly, a shared calendar can help aid in information disclosure and maintaining a routine.
For parents who want to share planning, there are many options, such as Google Calendar or apps like Cozi. Both parents will benefit from the ability to record extracurricular activities, conferences, field trips, exam dates, and so on. And, as a result, they don't miss any important dates during the school year.
4. Talk about how much back-to-school supplies cost.
It is obvious that there are financial considerations when splitting custody of your children. Make sure you plan ahead for how school supplies will be handled. You don't want your child's schooling derailed by confusion or conflict when they need something for school.
By discussing this beforehand, you will ensure that your child doesn't end up with duplicate supplies or miss out on important items.
5. Be focused during homework.
When your child needs help with something, including homework, you are one of the most important people in their lives. Take time to chat with your child when they’re with you, as well as learn what they're working on.
As a result, you demonstrate your willingness to assist them in every aspect of their lives. Coordination with your co-parent about how to help with their schoolwork can also be beneficial.
6. Attend school events together.
There are times when you may not want to see the other parent, and that's okay. If your child is involved in school functions, such as parent-teacher conferences, or performances, try to put these feelings aside.
In addition to showing your child that you care about them, this effort prevents you from relaying important details secondhand to the other parent or receiving them yourself from the other parent. When attending one of these events, walk away if you sense that problems are brewing. And, make sure the other parent is not engaged.
7. Get all the information you need.
Each parent should be aware of everything from lunch menus to afterschool activities to test grades to major projects.
Non-custodial parents do not have the right to withhold school records and information unless there is a court order prohibiting them from doing so.
It will be much easier for both parents if they send each other copies of schedules and important deadlines.
By providing regular updates about your children's education, you can reduce hostilities and keep both parents on the same page.
8. Be flexible.
Keep an open mind when coming up with alternative solutions. For example, maybe you have a work emergency and can’t meet with your child’s teacher. In this case, you could ask your ex if they can attend and report back to you. However, make sure to return the favor as well.
Even though consistency is important, and we tend to get stuck in our ways, you also have to be flexible when plans don’t work out.