For many two household families, back to school means adjusted parenting schedules, alternating holidays and vacations, organizing school pickups and planning after school activities. It is important to remember that these changes in your parenting schedule may affect your child no matter their age. Therefore, it is up to you to make the transition into the new school year and adjusted parenting schedule as seamless as possible for your child. While all families are different, you can use these ideas as a starting point and personalize them to fit your family’s needs.
Back to School Calendars
A calendar is a great way for your child to know when and where they will be at any point during the week. You can set out which nights they will be at each of their two homes. If you have a flexible parenting schedule, then using a calendar can be beneficial for marking the child’s activities so that your child will know when they are available to have time with the other parent and can feel more in control of their own schedule. You can use a printout calendar or buy a fun wall calendar that your child can help you fill out or make it fun by using different color markers and stickers to denote the parenting schedule, holidays and activities. Your child can even add in their own play dates, birthday parties or other activities they are excited to partake in.
Back to School Shared Folder
Using a folder that your child can bring back forth to each of their homes is a great way to exchange information. Just like a take home folder at school, this folder can be used to transfer photocopies of important or informational documents you would like to the other parent to be aware of such as school forms, sign up forms or medical forms. Encourage your child to decorate and personalize their folder to make it their own special folder. Your child can add photocopies of their school projects or school work they are proud of and are excited to show off.
Continue to reassure your child that they can talk to you about anything. This does not mean you should repeatedly ask them questions but rather encourage unrestricted conversation. Create a conversation where open communication is about making your child feel comfortable. Let them know that you will not get angry or judge how they are feeling. Open communication is a two way street, it is not just your child that must be open; you must be open as well. This means putting away your phone or computer and giving your full attention to your child. Sometimes the best conversations occur during the car ride to school or activities where there are no electronics or toys to be a distraction. It is also important to reinforce your connection with each of your children by spending quality time alone with each child. This may entail spending a few hours at the bookstore, the park or getting ice cream. Although open communication may not come right away, it is important that your child know you are there for them when they are ready to talk. In the meantime, take your child out to shop for their very own journal. Your child may use this journal to draw or write in as a way to privately express their feelings. Reassure your child that this journal is theirs and theirs alone. No one will look in their journal unless they themselves are ready to share it.
Most of all, make the back to school experience a fun one. It is not the end of summer but the start of a new of academic year full of exciting opportunities.