The first of September is less than a week away. Summer has come to a close and school is back in session. For your kids it means early morning wake up alarms and a rigid routine which recurs with an all too familiar frequency. For single moms, the season means tiptoeing through a variety of co-parenting and other parent landmines. Several in fact, that first time single moms might not even realize exist. Words to the wise, tread lightly and follow these five rules.
1. Beware of the Married Moms. They could very well be thinking that you want to steal their husbands. You know you don't, but if they've never been a single mom themselves, they have no clue what you're juggling just to keep your household afloat, and the last thing on your mind is her man. In order to allay their fears create a physical and emotional distance from her guy. You can be courteous and friendly if you see him, but no touchy feely. That means not even subconsciously reaching out to touch his arm in order to emphasize your point. To make the other moms feel further at ease, when you do engage in conversation, mention you are starting to date or that you've met someone interesting.
2. Get a Front Row Seat. When your kids are young it is inevitable that you will end up in the same room, auditorium or sports field as your ex. To make the viewing experience more enjoyable for you, sit in front of him rather than behind. That way you don't have to watch his every move (particularly if he's with the new wife, girlfriend and/or significant other) Out of sight, out of mind!
3. Do Teacher Meetings Solo. Although teachers don't always like spending more time than necessary in parent/teacher meetings, you are entitled to request a conference independent of your ex. That way you can focus on what you need to understand about how your child is doing in school, rather than how uncomfortable you feel around your former spouse.
4. Request Your Own Copy of Report Cards. Many school systems only send out one copy of your child's report card. If your address is the primary household, you'll receive it no problem. If not, you might not ever see it. Go to your child's school and ask for a duplicate report to be sent to your home or ask them to print out a copy for you while you wait. Thankfully, many schools have an Internet reporting system, such as Aeries. Find out if your school has a service like this. It's a secure online interface which allows parents to view a child's academic progress, grades, attendance and class schedule daily.
5. You Don't Need to Don the Red Cape Everyday. You can only do so much and be in one place at a time. Don't feel like you have to commit to every PTA committee, team sport booster club, and be the weekly classroom mom, etc. in order to make up for any misguided guilt. Pick one thing you think you will enjoy, have adequate time for and can do well. If you have multiple children find a school activity that supports all your kids efforts in one fell swoop. Make your best effort to support your child, and attend his or her activities. If you can't make every single rehearsal, performance, or game, explain why to your child. Reinforce your unconditional love and support for them. Let them know if Daddy will be there and that you'll attend the next event. They will understand.
For more tips on how to be a single mom superstar. Join in the conversation at the Single mom superstar webinar.