School is back! Our tips for separated parents during the back to school rush
It can often be a hectic time getting children ready to return to school. This means getting them back into their normal routine and resettled while also dealing with new teachers, friends and challenges. It may involve a new school and it often involves a lot of anxieties for the children.
At this time it is particularly important for separated parents to be prepared and work together for the best interests of the children.
To help separated parents, we’ve come up with some ways to ensure you are focused on getting the best first day of school photo (in an oversized uniform no doubt), rather than running into unwanted issues.
Prepare for the first day of school
The first day is obviously particularly important. For separated parents, the first question often is: who has the children on the first day of school?
Regardless of who it is, both parents should be working together to get the children ready for the first day before it comes along. This means adapting the children’s routine beforehand, including enforcing bedtimes, sleep routines and eating habits. This is crucial to ensuring the children transition smoothly into back to school! Discuss the plan with the other parent and try to make it consistent in both households.
It is also important to ensure you are discussing back to school with the children. Find out if there is anything they are feeling anxious about, or anything they need. Reassure them that everything will be okay and let the other parent know if your children have disclosed their anxieties so that you are both working towards making back to school more seamless.
Whoever has the children on the first day also has to ensure the children have their uniforms and everything on their back to school list so that they are ready for the first day. This leads us to our next tip….
Make sure the children have everything they need
Back to school means there is a school list of items, backpacks and uniforms to buy. This can all add up, so with separated parents sometimes it’s best to share the costs.
Discuss this beforehand to avoid any cat and mouse chasing of costs, or arguments about recouping funds when they haven’t been discussed first.
If you already have an agreement about who is paying for what, you should stick to it. However, don’t sweat the small stuff – the most important thing is to make sure the children have everything they need. This may mean having separate sets of items (like stationary and uniforms) at each home so that there are no issues getting homework done or lugging items from one home to the other unnecessarily.
Plan in advance!
Make sure the children know that their schedule is changing as the holidays come to an end. Children benefit from having a set routine in place and they should be aware of what that is.
Extracurricular activities will recommence with training and weekend games, and important events should be diarised so that nothing is missed.
There are some great apps that can assist separated parents with knowing what’s on, see our previous blog ‘Apps for separated parents’ for more information on these!
If you have Orders or a Parenting Plan in place, revert back to that to ensure you and your ex are on the same page about how your arrangements will work during school term.
Contact the school
If the school isn’t already aware, let them know that you and your ex are separated and tell them if the children are having any difficulty dealing with your separation.
You will also need to update you contact details to ensure the school has details of both homes in the event of emergencies or in case they need to contact you. Make sure you are also on the school mailing lists so you know about events, fairs, fundraisers, mufti days, parent teacher interviews, etc.
Don’t just leave it up to the other parent to be aware of what is going on, be actively involved. On the same note, don’t withhold information so if you know something is happening and the other parent isn’t aware, let them know. Avoid situations where your child misses out because of a lack of communication between separated parents.
Talk to your children about what extracurricular activities they want to be involved in and discuss them with your ex.
Sometimes parenting plans or Orders require separated parents to agree on what extracurricular activities the kids are enrolled in. Don’t let the children miss out on a trials or registrations because it hasn’t been discussed.
We hope these tips help and if you need further assistance, do not hesitate to contact one of the lawyers in our Family Law team for assistance.