It is the time of year when kids and teens start returning to the hallways of the nation’s elementary, middle and high schools in droves. Whether kids attend school in person or virtually, the start of the school year can be an exciting time, and it can be an anxiety-inducing time for kids and parents alike.
While all parents of school-age children and teens have challenges to navigate at this time of year, co-parents who are no longer romantically involved tend to weather some unique stresses. Most of the time, there is a significant parenting time shift that occurs when school starts. One parent who may have seen a lot of their kids during the summer may be seeing far less of them during the school year and vice versa.
Even when this kind of switch isn’t relevant for a dual-household family, getting used to the scheduling realities of the school year is not an insignificant undertaking and can cause a great deal of stress. Knowing how to address potential stressors proactively can help make the transition to the school year easier for everyone.
A few tips to keep in mind
From coordinating who is responsible for pickups and drop-offs to who will handle signups for extracurricular activities, it can be very helpful for co-parents to develop regular, effective communication. Co-parents who struggle to communicate without fighting – and those who are prone to being straight-up scatterbrained – can particularly benefit from streamlining their communications on a co-parenting app or platform. Using a communal calendar, financial tracking hub and notes section of such platforms can help to ensure that everyone remains on the same page.
Additionally, families that haven’t already integrated virtual visitation terms into their parenting plans can benefit from making this adjustment. Virtual visitation can allow kids to remain connected with whichever parent is not currently residing where they are. Legal guidance is important when modifying parenting plans.
The start of the school year is a stressful time. However, as long as everyone works to remain connected, the challenges of co-parenting during the fall, winter and spring will be minimized to a significant extent for most families.