Co-parenting is perhaps the biggest challenge couples face after separating; it is a minefield of emotions and can occasionally feel like an organisational nightmare, especially once children start school.
Suddenly, a routine centered largely around play and flexible pick-up times becomes a lot more rigid and there are many more things to remember. However, there is no situation that can’t be wrangled into submission with cooperation, and the handy hacks below.
Review your Schedule
Depending on your co-parenting arrangement prior to your kids going to school, you might have to make some small changes to make sure the transition is as stress-free as possible.
Mid-week change overs, where the kids move from one parent to the other during the work week, might throw out their school routine, so it might be wiser to re-schedule their moving day to the weekend.
Also, check out the dates for public holidays and term breaks to make sure both parents know when to take time off work.
Sync Your Calendars
No matter where the kids are staying any given day or week – depending on your co-parenting arrangement – both parents should have all school-related events penciled in their calendar.
Free dress day, excursion, school swimming, sports carnival, book week parade… the list of special events throughout the school year is endless and it’s easy to lose track.
By syncing your calendars, both parents are accountable, the kids don’t miss out on the highlights of the school year and everyone can relax.
Two of Everything
To avoid mad post-bedtime dashes to collect essential school stuff from your co-parent’s place, make sure both of you have (at least) one set of everything the kids might require during the school week.
Uniforms, swimmers, sports gear, lunchboxes – if you have a child in school, these items should be living at your house permanently, even if the kids don’t.
Inform your School
To ensure things run as smoothly as possible, it’s important for your kids’ school to know about your family situation and childcare arrangements.
They need to have both parents’ contact details and addresses; and they need to know who is responsible for the kids on any given day/week, so they know whom to contact if there is an emergency.
Yes, it can feel weird to explicitly lay out the details of your co-parenting to the folks at the school admin office, but try not to worry about it.
It’s in the children’s best interest – and you are hardly the first separated couple in the catchment.
Last – but not least – Communicate
Good communication is key if you want to co-parent successfully; and this becomes all the more important during the early school years when everyone is adjusting to this new chapter.
Being frank in your communications with your former partner won’t safeguard you against all conflict, but it will keep unpleasant surprises at bay and give everyone a sense of security.
You are still in it together, as far as the kids are concerned, so it’s important to be on the same page.
Yes, the start of the school year can be daunting – but don’t be scared. Remember, you’ve made it through 2020 in one piece; there is nothing the new year can throw at you, your former partner and your children that you can’t handle. You’ve got this.