As the line from one of my favorite White Stripes songs goes, “Fall is Here, Hear the Yell, Back to School, Ring the Bell…” I know when the new school year has arrived in my house because the boys are getting the last of their summer homework done, enjoying their last days of summer freedom and we are frantically shopping for new school supplies to stuff into their backpacks for their first day.
It is a crazy time of year to be a parent. For divorced parents, however, the level of stress can be even greater and, as a result, increase the need for better planning and time management. Grab a pen and a fresh notebook because here are a few tips for the divorced parent to start the new school year.
Become Calendar Masters: Parenting time, classes, activities, child care, doctor and therapy appointments, sports, birthday parties and more. The possible scheduling coordination and resulting issues are endless, and, as a result, it is very important to be on top of your game when it comes to knowing what is going on and when. Using a web-based calendar with your ex can be invaluable to ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible, and can even be a central hub for communications when emails and texts are not working well. Consider Our Family Wizard and Google Calendar as two often used calendar options.
Talk to School Administrators, Counselors, Teachers, Coaches and More: Getting these key figures up to speed on what is happening at home can greatly help them determine how best to care for and communicate with your child. Have these conversations in-person, when possible, with the other parent and ensure that the both of you are copied on written communications so that no one is left out of the loop. When appropriate, ensure that you and the other parent are both listed as primary contacts at school, and with sports teams, other activity groups, and doctors.
Attend Conferences, Events and Activities: Know how your child is doing in school academically, socially, and athletically. Try to keep everything as positive and normal as possible by attending sporting events, school concerts and plays, and classroom activities. Try not to let these opportunities pass by without taking advantage, of course, understanding that work often takes precedent. Your child may appreciate and remember such efforts more than you will ever know.
Keep an Eye on the Kids: Growing up is hard enough without having to deal with family conflicts at home. If you see your child having a hard time adjusting to the new school year, consider school counseling or private therapy to work through the situation. School administrators and counselors may have private therapist recommendations tailored to your child’s needs.
Starting the new school year is always a daunting task for the entire household, but hopefully these tips will help you pass the test with flying colors.
Robert Epstein is a partner in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Practice Group and practices throughout New Jersey. He can be reached at (973) 994-7526, or firstname.lastname@example.org.