Beginning the school year can be stressful as the lazy days of summer give way to a more rigorous schedule. The hectic pace of school, extracurricular activities and parental work schedules is especially challenging for divorced families where children shuttle between two homes.
Many children have had the unfortunate experience of being at one parent's home and needing something that is at the other parent's home. These situations create stress for everyone involved, and now is the perfect time for divorced parents to think about how to avoid them.
The most basic tool for parents is the calendar. In addition to the academic schedule, each parent needs to calendar extracurricular activities for each child. It is the responsibility of each parent to keep track of each child's activities including times, dates, locations, transportation, and equipment.
Ongoing access to information is important, but do not use your child as a messenger. Parents should be on an e-mail list and/or mailing list for every activity that each child is involved in. Parents need to be proactive regarding their responsibilities, and allow children the freedom to flourish during their childhood.
What if your child receives an invitation to a birthday party or a notice of a school trip? Make sure your child's other parent knows about it by calling, sending a fax or e-mail. Does the event conflict with prior plans? Consider the value of flexibility and the best interests of your child.
Sometimes, the Marital Settlement Agreement (also known as the Divorce Agreement) includes a comprehensive parenting plan. Often, however, divorced parents must work out parenting issues that are not specifically settled in their Agreement. Communication is critical, especially between divorced parents. Now is the time to make sure the lines of communication are open, to make a fresh start for the school year.