THE BLOG
08/31/2011 01:59 pm ET | Updated Oct 31, 2011

It's Back To School: Developing Routine And Structure For Parents

As I prepare my children to transition from the spontaneity of life in the summer to the structure of school, it occurred to me that they need to get back into a routine. Not only is it important for our children to be in the habit of schedules, but the aspect of shared parenting needs to be formalized once again--especially if life has been a bit off kilter as our children are at camp, have their own activities without parents, or are in holiday mode.

If you are the resident parent where the children live most of the time, not much will change. However, if your children don't live with you most of the time, here are some ideas to consider for maintaining involvement in your children's lives.

Make A Family Calendar:
Hang it wherever the children will see it, to show that you care. Make your children see that their lives are important to you and that they are your priority.

On the family calendar, list:
- Birthdates
- School schedules
- Other dates, such as dental appointments, dance recitals, sports games, and so on.

Establish Rules Such As The Following:
- Each parent must order his or her own tickets for children's events.
- Each parent must make his or her own arrangements at school to get information. It is not up
to your former spouse to do those things or provide information for you. It's up to you to take
the initiative.
- Don't make your son or daughter into the man or woman of the house.
- Don't turn your son or daughter into your best friend and confidant.
- Don't fill the void in your bed by allowing your child to sleep there. If you eventually start a
relationship and no longer allow your child into your bed because you are sharing it with
someone else, the child could feel displaced.

If You Are The Noncustodial Parent, Here Are Some Ideas To Help You Maintain A Positive Relationship With Your Children:
- Some schools allow children to leave the grounds for lunch; you may be able to take them out
to lunch without affecting your co-parent's time.
- As much as you can, duplicate at your home the little things that your kids love at the
custodial parent's home--things like special Barbie dolls, books, and so on. Send out the
message that you care. Duplicating items will remove the stress children may feel about
taking their favorite things to the other parent's home or about forgetting to bring them (but
keep in mind that some items, like the favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can't be duplicated).

Remember, your children still have two parents. They still have a family. It's the dynamics that have changed and it's up to parents to minimize the conflict and make transition as easy as possible.

Copyright ©2011 The Smart Divorce® and Deborah Moskovitch
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