Once back to school hits, there is no holding the kids back — from extracurricular activities to reconnecting with friends, as parents we understand that it can be a whirlwind.
On top of having to get back into the school routine, you may also have to deal with setting up a new schedule and potentially a new co-parenting routine.
Establishing a custody schedule that works for everyone and aligns with any new activities that the school year may bring will make your life and your kids’ lives easier.
Checking in on your custody schedule as you are embarking on a new school year can be a collaborative process between both parents. By working together, you can develop a plan that accommodates everyone’s needs and gives your children the stable and loving environment they deserve.
1: Start Planning Early
As you’re navigating the new school year, be sure you’re discussing any upcoming plans with your co-parent. This will give you both plenty of time to make any necessary arrangements, such as coordinating extracurricular activities, planning around the school calendar or for upcoming holiday breaks.
Remember, this is not just a week-to-week schedule — you should think ahead about all the one-time events that will come up. This includes holidays, birthdays, family events, and more.
Negotiating these beforehand, as much as possible, will make conflict less likely in the future.
By starting the planning process early, you can avoid last-minute scheduling conflicts and ensure a smoother transition into the school year.
2: Communicate Openly and Clearly with Your Co-Parent
Effective communication is key to any co-parenting relationship, and it becomes even more important during the school year.
Keep the lines of communication open with your co-parent, and be honest about your plans, expectations, and any potential conflicts that come up.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a shared calendar to keep each other informed and updated — however, even texts and calls are better than nothing.
And if you run into a conflict, try to keep your emotions out of it and focus on being as clear and open as possible about what is going on. You can acknowledge their feelings, but you should also stick to your boundaries and the rules the court has set.
Remember, the goal is to work together to create a great experience for your kids throughout the school year. Arguments and fights that come up from a misunderstanding or a lack of communication ultimately hurt them much more than either of you.
3: Establish Clear Expectations and Boundaries
One of the biggest drivers of resentment and conflict is uncommunicated expectations — unclear boundaries are a close second. When both parents are clear and upfront about what you expect as well as what is and is not acceptable,, conflict and resentment can drop drastically.
This includes discussing how you will handle any changes to the custody schedule, such as last-minute vacations, school obligations or family emergencies. It should be completely unique to you, and your co-parent’s needs.
Another good idea is to set guidelines for how you will communicate, how you will make decisions together, and how you will work together to solve any issues or conflicts. That way, when inevitable conflicts come up, you have a clear, simple structure to work within to get them solved.
4: Be Flexible and Open to Adjustments
Flexibility is essential when it comes to co-parenting. Plans can change, and it is important to be open to making adjustments to the custody schedule as needed.
Being flexible does not mean letting them cross your boundaries or push you around — it just means you try to find compromises when it makes sense.
For example, if your co-parent has a last-minute work trip, offer to switch weekends or adjust the schedule in another way that works for both of you.
However, we all know that it is possible for your co-parent to abuse this, especially if they are a narcissist or have behavioral issues. If you sense that you are being manipulated or lied to, it’s better to err on the side of being firm with your boundaries than to give in. You can always consult with your attorney if you need additional guidance in this area.
5: Involve Your Kids in the Planning Where Possible
Kids do not run the show, but that does not mean they should be kept out of the discussion. You should both consider their needs and preferences where possible when making the schedule.
After all, even if school festivities and commitments sound like a good idea, if your kids are totally against it, you may be setting yourself up for battles that you just do not need.
If possible, try to bring your co-parent into the discussion. Make it as collaborative as possible so that your kids feel like they get a say, your co-parent feels the same, and the outcomes are, at the very least, not a surprise to anyone.
6: Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help if Needed
If you are struggling for any reason — your co-parent is unreasonable or you cannot seem to get anywhere with any discussions — there is no shame in asking for help.
A family therapist or counselor can provide guidance and support as you work through any conflicts or difficulties. This can be a great tool — a third party who is completely objective can help each side see where they could make improvements.
Let’s Talk About How We Can Help You Today
If divorce is looming in your life or you are dealing with custody issues, we are here to help.
Contact us today to set up your initial consultation, or call us directly at (214) 646-3253.