The summer break is over and going back to school can be stressful not only for children, but for parents who are separated too! Here are a few tips to make going back to school as smooth as possible…
1) Establish a regular routine
Everyone relaxes during the summer break – we don’t eat at regular times, go to bed late and are free to do as we please. Sophie Dierick, a teacher and separated mom of 2 teenagers, is convinced that “a lot of stress and conflicts could be avoided if parents were stricter on kids going back to school”. The first piece of advice is therefore to progressively regulate your child’s routine by, for example, bringing bedtime forward by 15 minutes every day in the week before they go back to school and suggesting some intellectual activities (reading, puzzles, etc.).
2) Plan your back-to-school expenses
Review the situation with your co-parent: what does your child need in both houses? Are there any shared expenses? Can anything be reused? Think outside the box: going back to school isn’t just about buying school stationery, but also renewing bus passes, sorting their wardrobe, replacing old trainers and even budgeting an allowance for school dinners. Avoid peak times when planning your purchases or, better still, buy everything online! Don’t forget to discuss your respective expenses as well as your views on how these should be allocated.
3) Find an extracurricular activity
Extracurricular activities, such as plays, music, sports and scouting, are vital in helping a child build their self-confidence and channel their energy. Find out in advance about activities in your area that your son or daughter would like. Add any subscription fees and doctor’s visits for medical certificates to your shared custody schedule.
4) Put their mind at ease by keeping things tidy
A tidy and well-stocked desk can also motivate your child to get back into the school mindset! If your child is old enough for homework, it is important to show them that you want to help them work comfortably by setting up a quiet area, away from any distractions. Having a tidy backpack in class will also reassure them. Our teacher can’t stress this enough: “On the first day back at school, children need to have all the necessary supplies. If they don’t, they will slow down the group and this will scare them, especially the little ones.”
5) Update your diaries
Doctors, coaches, the parents of their (new) best friend… Have you added all those handy telephone numbers to your address book? A shared diary for separated parents means this information can be accessed stress-free at any time!
Do you have any other tips for making going back to school easy for your child and co-parent? Share them in our comments section!
©2013, 2houses the co-parenting facilitator.