Expert after expert have touted the importance of both parents playing an active role in raising children. These include medical experts throughout the nation as well as the Texas Attorney General. In theory, this sounds like a great plan. Each parent takes a relatively equal amount of time in rearing the children. This can include getting kids to and from school and activities as well as actual time in the home. The responsibilities are shared and the children’s relationship with each parent continues to grow.
Unfortunately, what we put on paper does not always translate smoothly into reality. A notable example is the start of a new school year.
The transition back to school is difficult, this is true even for families that live in one household. Add in navigating two households and back to school can give parents an extra dose of stress. The school schedule itself is one thing, especially if there is more than one child and the children are in different buildings. The parents must figure out how to get the children to the right building on time and ready to learn. But the school schedule itself is rarely the end of the story. After-school activities are also important. Sports, music, and clubs can help our children build social networks and explore new interests.
But how do we manage it all? For those who are co-parenting, the following tips can help.
#1: Re-evaluate communication.
Take a moment to review how you communicate with the other parent. If you have been co-parenting for a while, review how it went last year. If new to the process or working on an initial co-parenting plan, try to look ahead and consider how you will share information with the other parent. This can range from the basic schedule to sudden changes.
There are online apps, like a shared calendar, that can help.
#2: Put together a plan.
If you decide to use a shared calendar, make sure the other parent agrees. Find an app or other communication tool that works best for both of you to better ensure success. Then use that tool to get the schedule in place and start discussing who takes on what responsibilities.
In Texas, a parenting plan can be an informal form or formal legal agreement. When used, the parenting plan should generally provide a basic outline to help guide these conversations.
#3: Avoid common mistakes.
Everyone gets frustrated when trying to get a new schedule up and running. Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children. They pick up on conflict and may think they are the cause. This could trigger anxiety or other mental health concerns for the children.