Divorced Parents: Keep Your Cool During Back to School

This may be the first school year that you experience as a divorced single parent, but you’ll make it happen! Getting everyone ready for back to school is tough enough when a couple is still together and in one household, but the degree of difficulty ramps up when there are two households. Each parent should commit to providing the best environment for their child when it comes to studying, eating a healthy breakfast, and providing a healthy lunch.

Try to get your child to the bus stop on time or drop them off at school before the bell rings. Your kids don’t need that added stress as they are figuring out how to cope with new schools and/or a new normal.

If your ex-spouse is picking up your child for school in the morning, please don’t make your son or daughter intentionally late so that your ex must wait outside in the car. The other parent’s time is just as valuable and precious as yours. Be considerate and you will be treated with the same consideration. Plus, your child will learn about healthy negotiation and responsibility.

When the kids stay with you on school nights, give them a quiet space to do their homework, and make sure they aren’t distracted by a loud TV or phone conversations. I know there may be lingering ill feelings and hurt after a divorce but try to put these emotions on the shelf. Remember that just because you are no longer husband and wife, you are still parents.

If you and your ex-spouse share school pick up duties, make sure the school knows you both are authorized to pick up the kids. That may sound like a no-brainer, but you have to realize that teachers and administrators are very cautious, especially when the situation involves divorced parents. One parent may not have the legal right to be with his or her child.

If it is your night to have the kids over during the week, have them lay out their clothes the night before and make their lunches. This is a great opportunity for your child to learn planning and preparedness and to see the benefits. In the morning, the kids should be well-groomed and dressed appropriately. What you want to avoid is having a homeroom teacher say something to your disheveled child like, “Oh, did you spend the night at your dad’s/mom’s?”

Children always are going to need their mom AND their dad to help them excel during each new school year. Even though your marriage ended, your parenting job is lifetime employment. You can fulfill this precious role by bringing your kids to their doctor and dentist appointments, bringing vaccination records to school, and chipping in some extra cash for school supplies. If you start feeling overwhelmed, remember to keep on smiling and chopping wood. It will get better for everyone.