When kids go back to school at various ages, new demands pile on parents very quickly. New schedules, new homework, new teachers, and new schools are just the beginning. Increasing energy and stamina by parents are needed to cope with all the changes along with their kids' range of emotions about the impending school year. The households that fare the best are when the parents prepare to work together to share the wide range of responsibilities.
20 Co-Parenting Tips
1. Decide which responsibilities each parent is best at and enjoys the most and divide them up.
2. Support each others' emotions as the kids begin this new academic and social year.
3. Make a priority list of the tasks that need to be done before school starts such as clothes shopping, learning about bus pick-ups, and school supplies.
4. If both parents are working outside the home, agree on child care arrangements that work for kids and parents alike. Remember what didn't work the previous school year, so the same mistakes aren't repeated. Also, repeat what worked!!
5. Counsel each other on the kinds of worries each child may have, so you are prepared for the concerns you will need to assuage.
6. Decide which parent has an easier times talking about difficult topics with each child. Spend time alone with that child without pressure just having loose conversations about school life to field possible questions and worries.
7. Decide which parent should help each child organize their rooms so they are all set for the new blast of homework assignments. Be easy going about it, so you're child is reassured they are prepared.
8. Make sure all computers and printers are in good working order.
9. Visit new schools with your kids to acquaint them with the layout of classrooms, cafeteria, lockers, and maybe even get a chance to meet some teachers.
10. Discuss together who is the best helper with different academic subjects should your kids need a hand with homework and especially long term projects.
11. If tutors are needed, find out their schedules now so that you can fit them into your kids and your own routines.
12. Discuss how you can work together to find some family time. With extra-curricular activities and kids at different ages, it's sometimes hard to all get together once a day like for a family dinner. Don't fret, just find some time during the week when you can share a family meal or movie to keep the family members connected.
13. Discuss the amount of outside of school activities you both agree on are reasonable without having you and your kids always rushing about. Divide up the driving activities or arrange who else will be taking care of those duties.
14. Spend some time together before school starts just the two of you. It helps a great deal to feel like partners beginning a new year of adventures without losing sight of your own relationship.
15. If you are a divorced parent, make contact with your ex-spouse to discuss routines and schedules so they are in place before school begins. This way you and your kids are prepared for the transitions between houses and which parents are in charge of what activities. They also see you are both working together to help them start the year off well.
16. If you are a single parent, find other single parents who can share the load of responsibilities. Share driving, homework helping tips, and discuss together potential worries about academics and kids' social lives. Plan when you can regroup together so you feel emotional support as a parent.
17. If you are parents who live together, reassure each child that you both believe in them including their abilities to make new friends and handle new assignments. Let them know you both are behind them as they seek new opportunities. They'll feel good knowing their parents are united behind them.
18. Plan together how each family member will have some down time each day. The hustle and bustle can run away with you, so that you never feel relaxed. Make this a priority. It increases productivity and everyone's well-being and mental health stay on course.
19. Begin readjusting bedtimes for parents and for kids as the new schedules probably demand earlier wake up times. Get alarm clocks in order and decide if anyone is waking each other up. Also plan on shower times and breakfast plans.
20. Above all, remember once again you have a partnership that doesn't even include your kids. Think ahead how you will find time to talk every day, at least once a day, to support each other emotionally and share your devotion to each other regardless of the successes and mishaps of each day.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.